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18 September 2014
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Clues from the Past in Kirtling Parish Church

By Carol Davidson Cragoe
Anglo-Saxon church

Image of Kirtling parish church's nave
The nave - the Anglo-Saxon core of the church ©
Coming through the door, you are now in the nave. Arcades on either side separate it from the aisles. Above the arcades, the clerestory windows flood the church with light.

At the far east end is the chancel arch, and beyond it the chancel with the altar. On the west wall, above the tower arch, is the triangular ‘scar’ of the nave roof before the clerestory was added. Its height shows that the nave was very tall, another indicator that the core of the church is Anglo-Saxon in date.

'The north arcade has six arches or bays, all the same.'

There are no documents to tell us what Kirtling’s Anglo-Saxon church looked like, but the building itself provides its own record. Reading this ‘record’ may at first seem daunting, but with careful study its secrets will be revealed.

The north arcade has six arches or bays, all the same. They are similar in style to the porch opening and so also date to the 15th century. Going into the north aisle, however, we find two curious things. One is a blocked lancet window in the west wall, showing that there was an aisle here as early as the late 12th or early 13th century, long before the present arcade was built. Thesecond is that the easternmost bay is actually much wider than the rest of the aisle, and is in fact a transept. Keep these clues in mind – they might be useful later.

Published: 2005-02-01

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