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Towcester, Northants

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

As so often, the visual impression is of a C14/C15 building, with only clues to indicate that one of only slightly lesser scale – still aisled N and S, for example – existed here in the C13 and probably before. The chancel is a well-cut thing (nice overhangs on the buttresses) of the mid/late C14, with an excellent Dec/Perp E window (how one wishes one had a date) and Perp clerestory stuffed in later with little regard for its predecessor. An unusual, smooth-formed C12 column to the S chancel chapel; a nice arch here has great little C14 peasants holding it up and some battered wall-painting (female saint): also a niche containing a later wall painting. Was this a Lady chapel?. The high altar rises up and there is a space beneat (in its current form?) for C19 heating equipment. The rest is now C15, but the arches reuse C12 caps, lucky they were polygonal and thus fitted future taste; one can even see the extra bands of whiter stone inserted to lengthen the columns. The simplest, Perp-stepped-lancet tracery; clerestory; tower plain as a pikestaff too, but a fine w door with  ironstoneniches and panels, and an intriguing blocked arch reveals something of this period stood in the NW corner, that nearest Sponlee’s grammar school. Inside, the S chapel window has fragments of good C14 canopywork (in one light) and C15 Sponlee-stuff in another: and here he is, his expansive and expensive cadaver, thin and smooth-faced Archdeacon above, Dead Body below, all on a handsome, open, wide-arched table. Each of these is a one-off, patrons comparing notes rather than masons; in this case, with Chichele’s college not so far away, one wonders if the communication went via that grand old man of the cadaver tomb.

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