Astoft

Sempringham,  Lincolnshire  - St. Andrew's Church

12th Century


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Notes in italics from Lincolnshire by Nikolaus Pevsner with John Harris (1964) Yale University Press, New Haven and London.



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A proud Norman church, unfortunately shorn of its chancel and transept (pulled down in 1788) and unfortunately provided with an apsed chancel of 1868-9 (by Browning). At the same time the N aisle wall was rebuilt and extended to the E to cover the area of the former N transept. ....


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... So what remains is the Norman nave and the N arcade and the crossing tower. The latter has nothing Norman left. The arches to all four sides are C14 (round capitals, polygonal abaci),


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and the ashlar-faced superstructure is Perp.  Battlements and eight pinnacles.


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That leaves the Norman work, thrilling throughout. The N arcade is of four bays, in an alternating rhythm. The responds are tripled and keeled. The middle pier repeats the same pattern l. and r. of a flat piece, i.e. appears as two responds grown together. The intermediate piers are circular and sturdy with square abaci but nicked corners. The arches have a single step.


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In the S wall two beautifully tall Norman windows , round-headed lancets really. Also one three-light Dec window. The Norman corbel table is completely preserved. It does not run through but is divided into four separate lengths by lesenes which form panels in which the windows are set - a motif reminiscent of the lesenes and so-called Lombard friezes in C11 and C12 North Italian and German work.


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The S doorway is in situ, the priest's doorway has been reassembled in the S porch. The S doorway has three orders of shafts. The capitals have ribbed leaves, but also waterleaf. In the arches zigzag, also at r. angles to the wall, and incised scalloping. Arch with many mouldings.


Now what is the date of all this? Is it really the church in which St Gilbert's order started and which was the church of his conventual house before it moved into the valley 350 yds to the SW? As this move took place in 1139, one can say No to the question, unless building was slow. Neither keeled shafts nor waterleaf capitals can be assumed before the 1160s. 
 

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