Church of St Andrew FIELD DALLING Norfolk



Church of St Andrew FIELD DALLING Norfolk
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
Church of St Andrew
Fig. 1. Church of St Andrew from east with medieval cross in foreground.
Conservation-Based Research and Analysis Report
NHER 3192
North Greenhoe Hundred
Holt Deanery
Norfolk Historic Environment Service
East Dereham
November 2014
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
This report on the history and significance of the building forms part of the investigative
stage of a grant procedure. There is a separate report on the wall paintings in the north aisle.
A group of Cistercian monks from Savigny in Normandy founded a cell at Field Dalling on
receiving the gift of a manor from James de Sancto Hylario which was ratified by his
daughter Maud in about 1147 (VCH 4621). The cell received a portion of the tithe of the
church along with Castle Acre Priory which also received a portion. The community came to
be known as Mountgrace priory. It was suppressed as it was an alien priory in 1414.
However, a memory of it existed in the field names around the parish shown on the Enclosure
map of 1812 (Fig. 2).
Saveney Mountgrace fields
Fig. 2 Enclosure map of 1812
The building is of flint with ashlar dressings and the roof coverings are of lead except for the
porch which is of corrugated tile. The building consists of a west tower, a nave with one aisle
and clerestory to the north and a lower chancel of the same width as the nave. An arcade of
four bays divides the nave from the north aisle.
The Norman Church
The history of the church building reveals part of the Norman church which preceded the
present 14th and 15th century structure. The north wall of the nave of the earlier church forms
the major part of the north wall of the aisle. Just to the west of the westernmost buttress there
is a vertical break containing a line of flint and rubble quoins. This is associated with
characteristic Anglo Norman masonry of markedly coursed flints with some herringbone
work interrupted by the clear, rubble-dressed, former doorway. The Norman masonry
Victoria County History, Volume 2
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
finishes in the easternmost bay of the existing aisle (Figs4 & 5). This was a small aisleless
church with its south wall probably close to the line of the present arcade (Fig.16). There may
have been a round tower in what is now the westernmost bay of the north aisle. The wall was
heightened as well as extended in the later Middle Ages.
Fig.3.Plan by Ruth Blackman
Fig 4. North doorway showing line of rubble quoins which was the n w corner of the nave
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
Fig. 5. North aisle from north east showing coursed rubble masonry and former doorway.
A carved prokrossos in the angle between the north aisle and the tower may be related to this
early work. It may be ex situ but it could have been part of an eaves corbel table and it
corresponds to the original height of the Norman nave. The mouth blocked up with a flint
suggests that it was a gargoyle (Figs 6 & 7). It is expressively carved and could well be of
Romanesque date. There is a block of ashlar immediately next to the head.
Fig. 6. West wall of north aisle
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
Fig. 7. Corbel in corner between north aisle and tower.
The Tower
Fig. 8. The Tower from south west
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
The tower has diagonal buttresses and is of three storeys with a tall bell chamber and a very
tall ground floor level (Fig. 8). The latter allows a tall tower arch which has discreet responds
of simple half shafts with most of the arch continuing uninterrupted its moulded outer orders
to the jambs of the opening (Fig. 9). Thus the tower becomes almost an extension of the nave
rather than an adjunct. This is accentuated by the fine inserted 3-light west window with
panel tracery and up-turned daggers to the sides. The importance given to the window is
demonstrated on the interior by the most unusual emphasis given to the internal face of the
west window arch with a complex stone moulding springing from embattled imposts (Fig.
Fig.9. Tower arch.
Fig.10. Detail of inner arch of west window
The middle storey of the tower has tall cusped single light windows on each of the three
exposed sides (Figs 8 & 13). These have been part blocked. The bell chamber is defined by a
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
moulded string course and the bell openings are each simple two-light openings with a
quatrefoil at the head. There is a crenellated parapet marked with a moulded stringcourse. On
the interior the surviving bell frame and bells are of considerable interest (Figs 11 & 12).
Fig. 11. Bell frame from south east before re-hanging. P. Cattermole, 1990 between pp144&145
The king post trusses with double bracing and long frame-heads were originally in a frame of
three pits increased to five in 1750 in order to hang a new peal of five made by Thomas
Gardiner (Cattermole, 1990, 199). The bells are no longer ringable but remain in the frame
hung from new transverse struts (Fig. 12). The frame is now supported underneath on two
steel beams. The reveals of the north bell opening have been rebuilt in brick work.
P. Cattermole, Church Bells and Bell-Ringing: A Norfolk Profile, Woodbridge, 1990
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
Fig. 12. Bell frame from south-south-east with the Gardiner bells fixed. 2014.
On the middle storey there is a re-used shaft with axe tooling in the north reveal of the west
window (Fig. 13 & 14). A further reminder of the Romanesque predecessor.
Fig. 13. Tower. Middle storey west window
Fig.14 detail of west window
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
The Nave and Aisle
The tower is slightly at an angle and out of alignment in relation to the nave suggesting that
they are not contemporary (Figs 3 & 9).The lack of alignment and the western abutment of
the arcade suggest the possibility that there was an earlier arcade further south and which was
formed by cutting openings through the original Norman south wall. The former nave was
also extended to the west just short of the present west wall. This took place during the 14th
century as part of a new nave and tower. The chancel was also built during the 14th century.
The present western abutment of the existing 15th-century arcade is given mass by the
extended west wall of the aisle abutting the north wall of the tower (Figs. 6 & 16). The east
abutment of the new arcade may also explain the angled north wall of the chancel (Fig. 16).
Therefore the tower and the chancel were built when the original arcade was further south
with the tower arch in the centre of the west wall and the chancel north wall at right angles.
This analysis proposes that the Norman former nave was first extended to a position in line
with the west wall of the nave. The only evidence in the fabric for this is the two pieces of
limestone ashlar in the correct position under the eaves of the north wall (Fig.4). This would
represent the remains of the quoins and possibly diagonal buttress of the north west corner of
the first extension (Fig. 16).
The south wall of the nave has three identical large 4-light panel-traceried windows set
beneath quite shallow two-centred arches (Fig. 15). To the east is the rood stair projection.
This wall has been heavily re-pointed and is difficult to interpret but it is probably a 15thcentury rebuilding of a 14th century south wall necessitated by the desire to have the very
large windows. The wall was heightened later in the 15th century to correspond to the added
clerestory on the north side and to accommodate an arch-braced roof structure. There are four
clerestory windows each of two lights. These are barely visible from the exterior.
The three north facing aisle windows are of plain panel tracery, each window of three lights
(Fig. 5). In contrast, the west window of the north aisle is the best window in the building
(Fig. 6). It is of three lights with the side lights each topped with a pair of mouchettes and
up-turned dagger above. The centre light has an embattled transom surmounted by a pair of
small lights and filled at its head with radiating small quatrefoils. This sophisticated window,
in contrast to the other aisle windows, lends support to the later date proposed for this wall.
Of the same build as this window is the magnificent four-bay arcade with a fifth bay, blocked
in the chancel north wall. The latter corresponded with a now demolished chapel (Fig. 16).
Fig. 15. South wall of nave.
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
Fig 16. 3 plans showing development of church from 12th – 15th century
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
The interior of the nave is dominated by a graceful 15th-century3 arcade of four bays on
lozenge-shaped piers with shafts carrying facetted bell capitals and shallow two centred
arches of two orders (figs. 17 & 18). The inner order in is of simple hollow chamfers and the
wide outer order is flat bordered by a hollow roll at the inside and a projecting roll on the
outer edge. Both are uninterrupted at the springings of the arches. Of the lozenge type piers
these at St Andrew’s are the slenderest in the region and a remarkable example of reducing
the masonry to a minimum in order to achieve an impression of weightlessness so important
to the architects and patrons of the late Middle Ages. This type of pier is most closely
paralleled at Wiveton and Blakeney where just a single pair of shafts and wide outer orders
are similar (Haward 1995,10-114) but probably not by the same mason.5
Fig.17. Nave arcade details by Birkin Haward
A will of 1458 leaves10 marks to ‘new work’ (Cattermole & Cotton, ‘Medieval Church Parish Church
Building in Norfolk’, Norfolk Archaeology, XXXVIII, Pt III 1983 p. 246).
Birkin Haward, Norfolk Album: Medieval Church Arcades, published by author, Ipswich. 1995
See R Fawcett, ‘St Mary at Wiveton in Norfolk, and a Group of Churches Attributed to its Mason’
Antiquaries Journal, LXII, 1982 pp 35-57.
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
Fig. 18. Arcade from south west.
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
The roof structure is contemporary with the heightening of the south wall and the erection of
the clerestory probably during the third quarter of the 15th century (Fig. 19). The roof is of
Fig. 19. Nave roof looking east
eight bays of arch-braced principal trusses alternating between long and short wall posts
determined by the positions of the clerestory windows. There is a single pair of side purlins
and a ridge piece. The pitch of the roof is quite shallow and has short ashlar struts onto boldly
moulded cornices with brattishing. The purlins are also decorated with brattishing and have
carved floral bosses where they meet the principals.
The aisle roof is contemporary, with meeting arched braces on wall posts with corbels. The
spandrels are filled with tracery.
Both nave doorways are 14th-century with plain hollow chamfers and hood mould to the
north (Fig 4) while rather more busy to the south with double ogee and wave mouldings (Fig.
20). Both doorways are unmarked at springings except by hood moulds. The south porch
(Fig. 21) has a hollow chamfered arch supported on corbels displaying St Andrew’s cross on
shields (Fig. 22). The arch has a decorative brick and flint relieving arch and modern brick
copings and kneelers. Small single light cusped openings to side walls.
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
Fig. 20. South nave doorway.
Fig. 21. Porch
Fig. 22. Porch arch corbel.
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
The 15th-century chancel arch has polygonal responds and capitals. The arch is plain
chamfered. The 14th century tower arch has semi-circular responds and polygonal capitals
supporting a deeply moulded arch of waves, hollow chamfers and ovolo (Fig.23).
Fig. 23. Detail of tower arch.
At the east end of the south wall of the nave the rood stair door survives (Fig. 23)
Fig. 24. Rood stair door
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
The Chancel
The chancel has been faced with galletted flint making a uniform surface. This makes
interpretation slightly more difficult as the changes of masonry are covered. However most of
the tracery appears to have survived and there are clear indications of a former chapel which
extended from the north aisle (Figs. 25 & 26). A large arch was inserted in to the 14th-century
chancel wall and it is in line with the main arcade. It is different in detail with a 4-centred
arch and different responds with protruding shafts to front and back of each. It appears to
have had flat responds flanked by the shafts. Despite these differences there is no reason to
think that the arch is of a significantly different date. Immediately next to the arch is a
blocked doorway with a wide splay on the exterior beneath a brick arch. This was of course
the interior of the chapel. The east wall of the chapel must have been in line with the present
buttress (Figs. 16).
Fig. 25. Position of former chapel.
Fig 26. Entrances to former chapel
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
The flat responds and the separate doorway suggests that the large arch was filled with a
screen or grill and that access from the chancel was through the small doorway. It must be
assumed that the aisle side was also sealed off by a parclose screen. It was demolished at
least 150 years ago and the masonry of the blocking of the aisle extension is typical of 18th –
century workmanship. It consists of flint with regularly laid courses of brick headers (Fig.
The rest of the chancel is of 14th – century date with reticulated tracery to the east, north-east
and south-west. The east window is of three lights similar to the south west opening (Fig. 27).
To the south east a different sort of window is employed consisting of a pair of ogee headed
lights beneath a shallow segmental arch with a cusped vessica to the head and tiny daggers to
the sides. There is a priest’s doorway in the centre of the south wall.
Fig. 27. South wall of chancel.
Fig. 28. Roof from north west
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
The chancel interior is graced with a restored hammer beam roof (Fig. 28). It is of four bays
with rather short hammers beams supporting posts from which the arch-braced trusses rise up
to embattled collars. The hammer beams are supported on solid braces and short wall posts.
The space between the posts and the ashlaring is filled with simple cusped lights. There are
ashlar struts on moulded cornices, double side purlins and a ridge piece. The lower side
purlin is placed close to the ashlaring behind the hammer posts, unusually.
There is an angle piscina with a plain ogee head and a sedile beside it (Fig. 28).
Fig. 28. Chancel piscina
There is some important medieval glass surviving in the upper lights of the three south nave
windows and one window in the north aisle. They represent identifiable prophets and apostles
along with angles in the small lights and architectural canopy work in the main lights of one
window (Figs 29 -31). They are dated to 1360-80.
Fig. 29. South east nave window
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
Fig.30. Detail of Fig. 29
Fig. 31. Detail of Fig. 29.
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
The church retains some interesting box pews in the north aisle as well as medieval poppy
head bench ends (Fig. 32). The easternmost box pews have 18th-century raised-and-fielded
panels whilst the others are of simpler construction yet probably similar date.
Fig. 32. North aisle box pews.
Fig. 33. Nave pews from south west
The nave pews are on raised platforms and the benches have had backs added to them.
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
There is a fine polygonal font with emblems carved on each face and a good Jacobean font
cover. (Fig. 34)
Fig. 34. Font
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
Repairs and Restorations
The churchwardens’ accounts provide some details of repair and new work. Money was
being spent on carpenter, bricklayer and glazier in 1841/2. In 1858 money was being raised
for repairs. In 1859-60 the east window and two other windows in the chancel were glazed by
Warrington. Also the steeple was glazed with rectangular quarries (Fig. 35)
Fig. 35. West window
The accounts tell us that the roof was being repaired in 1884, 1889 and 1896.
The Incorporated Church Building Society records the architect C. H. M. Mileham from
1902-09 for re-seating and general repairs to roofs and walls. A plan is included proposing
rebuilding the lost chapel and installing the organ in it. Clearly this was never carried out
(Fig. 36).
Fig. 36. Proposed re-seating etc. by Mileham
St Andrew, Field Dalling. COBRAR. NHER 3192
The pews in the chancel are of considerable interest and have been carved with Arts and
Crafts inspired designs to the poppy heads (Fig. 37).
Fig. 37. Poppy head in chancel. 1902-09
In 1935-6 William Weir undertook repairs to the north aisle roof and M & S Gooch did
repairs to the tower in 1977.
Conclusion and summary
Several accounts of the church probably copying each other mention a crypt beneath the
tower with the entrance having been blocked up. No evidence has ever been seen it would
The history proposed for the fabric is as follows:
1. Circa 1100.
An aisleless Norman church of which north wall and n w
corner survive
2. Mid 14th century.
Tower south nave wall are built and the Norman nave becomes
the north aisle. It is assumed that south wall of the Norman nave stood just south of
the present arcade as this appears to fit better with the tower and chancel. The arcade
was created by making arches in the existing wall which was a common and practical
method of adding aisles. The Norman nave/aisle was extended west to line up with
the nave west wall. Chancel built.
3. Circa 1450.
The new arcade was built and the north aisle west wall was
rebuilt further west and up against the tower presumably to buttress the lateral thrust
from the arcade. Nave south windows inserted involving some rebuilding.
4. Circa 1480.
Clerestory built and south nave wall heightened and roof
From an architectural point of view the arcade is an outstanding example of perpendicular
sophistication. The 15th century tracery of the north aisle is probably contemporary and of
similar quality.
Stephen Heywood. November 2014