Martin J. Harding David Herbert Somerset Cranage.

An architectural account of the churches of Shropshire, Volume 1, Parts 4-5 online

. (page 17 of 19)
Online LibraryMartin J. Harding David Herbert Somerset CranageAn architectural account of the churches of Shropshire, Volume 1, Parts 4-5 → online text (page 17 of 19)
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and a chapel of St Thomas in the vill of Clun itself. Hugh
Foliot, Bishop of Hereford, confirmed the monks in their
possession by a charter which was probably issued between
1 2 19 and 1224. The income derived from the rectorial tithes
was to be for the fabric and maintenance of the church of
St Milburge, — an interesting fact when we remember that
the splendid nave of that church was probably not finished till after the
charter was issued.

Of the present church of Clun, parts of the nave and chancel
are still Norman. Very late in the Norman period the western tower was
built and aisles were added to the nave. Early in the 1 3th century the north
aisle was rebuilt on a larger scale : in the Perpendicular period a splendid
new roof was put over it The church suffered greatly in the Civil War, and
in the reign of Charles II. (in 1665-6) a Brief was issued to raise money to
repair it It states : —

" Whereas the Church of the Borough and Parish of C/un, in
Our County of Salop^ being the ancient and Mother-church of the Deanary
and honor of Clutty (heretofore large and strongly built) in the late unhappy
wars happened to be burnt, some of the walls thereof onely remaining, but
the Steeple with four large Bells, and all the Roof, Seats and Timber-work,
utterly destroyed ; And the Inhabitants of the said Borough and Parish being
by means thereof bereft of their publick place to assemble in, for the worship
and service of God, have raised a yearly Assessment amongst themselves of
threescore pounds to preserve the small remaining part thereof from absolute
ruine: but the Fire so shattered the stone of the walls, that the repairing
and amending thereof will be to little purpose ; so that the whole Fabrick
must be taken down and new built, or else they shall be left without any



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publick place for the service of God : the charge of new building of the same
Fabrick, by the judgement and estimate of skilful Workmen delivered upon
their Oaths before divers of Our Justices of the Peace in Our said County,
and herein named, will amount unto the sum of Five thousand pounds and
upwards, which is far beyond the abilities of the said Inhabitants to raise
amongst themselves."

The Brief was granted " with the advice of Our Privy Council,"
and was evidently an important one, for it was to be read in England,
Wales, and Berwick-on-Tweed, a collection to be made from house to house
from those who were absent from church. John Walcot of Walcot, Salop,
was collector.

The language of the Brief is a good deal exaggerated. The
roof was not " utterly destroyed." Much of the present roofs of nave and
north aisle is mediaeval. Unfortunately we do not know how much money
was raised, nor how much was spent The churchwardens* accounts do not
help us, as the book only commences with 1686, and is very imperfect after
that It throws, however, considerable light on some points, as will be seen.
A parish meeting held on December 14th, 1748 decided that the roof of the
church should be repaired. Another meeting was held on May 24th, 1755,
at which certain persons were given the direction of the repairs of the east
end of the chancel " in which the said Vestry is now & hath formerly
been holden": the money was to be raised by a general rate on the parish.
Shortly afterwards a more ambitious reparation of the church was projected,
for in 1756 a Brief, to be read throughout the county, was issued for
£1420. This is not specifically mentioned in the accounts, but an entry of
1758 doubtless refers to it: — ^** N :B: Mr. Heighway when the above Acc^
were settled, did not bring in the Expences he had been at relating to the
Brief" Unfortunately we are again left in the dark as to the amount raised
and the work done. The condition of the nave was evidently serious, for : —
" $1^} May 1759 Agreable to y« desire of y^ Parishioners the Walls of y«
middle He of y^. Church were plymed by Tho? Bore & Rich^ Gough the
Wall on y« North Side is given way from Top to Bottom two feet Six
Inches & three quarters the Wall on y^ South Side is given way two feet
two Inches & a half" This state of things was not remedied, for : —
" March 4^ 1777 By an Order from the Bishop the Church was plimm'd,
and found to be exactly the same as in that taken above in 1759." Between
these two dates something important must have been done, for at a vestry
meeting on April 29th, 1771 it was decided to repair the church. On
July 27th, 1 77 1 "the repairing and Beautifying of the said parish Church of
Clun " was again under consideration, and a large number of parishioners
signed their names to the resolution that the church should " Immediately



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434 THE CHURCHES OF SHROPSHIRE.



be repaired and New pews built and the several Ayles be New flagged
the Windows New Glazed a New pulpit and Reading-Desk the top and
walls of the said Church to be plastered and Ornamented." The particulars
of the expense are not given, but the money was to be raised by a " lewn "
in the parish. The work seems to have gone on for some time, for the
vestry meeting of October nth, 1776 agreed "to assess a Lewn of one
shilling in the Pound towards the reparation of the Church for the
ensuing year."

Some of the money raised by the Brief of 1756 must have
been spent but not all. In the accounts is a copy of a letter from Messrs.
Goslings and Sharpe, bankers of London, to " Rev^ M^. Morris," which
says: — "in Janry 1791 we find we purchased £336 . 14 Consols in the
Names of Lord Clive the Rev^ M*^ Edmonds and yourself at SoJ^^ " " which
cost <jf27i — and we presume it was the Balance of the Brief Money — We
have not received any Dividends upon this Stock for want of a Power of
Atty — A Letter of Atty may possibly be found among your Papers relating
to the above as one was sent down at the time and never returned to us."
This was a nice state of things! And there was no immediate remedy, for
a note states : — " Lord Clive being now on his Passage to India, it will be
a considerable time before any letter of Atty can be signed by him for
receiving the Dividends."

There is nothing further about the Brief money in the
accounts. I have not thought it necessary to mention all the small sums
which were spent in repairs, for such repairs are constantly needed in an old
church. In 181 1 and 18 12 the churchwardens* disbursements were ;£^2i3 . 15 . 11
and £i37 . 14 . 11 respectively. Even the former is more than twice the
average amount, but we are not told what the money was spent on : it was
raised by a rate of 3s. in the pound in 181 1 and 5s. in 181 2.

In more recent times Sir Gilbert Scott was requested to advise
the custodians of the church as to its preservation. From his report, dated
June 2 1 St, 1856, we find that the nave was still in a very precarious state: —
"The internal arcades present now the most extraordinary appearance, each
of them leaning outwards to a degree which I have never seen in any other
instance." Huge buttresses and props were supporting both arcades. Sir
Gilbert thought that rebuilding "might be avoided by building strong but
compact buttresses against each of the pillars." This, with a careful
reparation of the rest of the church, he estimated to cost ;^i8oo to ;f2000.
The reparation, however, did not take place, and it was 20 years later before
Mr. Street was commissioned to " restore " the church. What was done will
appear in the course of the following account The total cost of the
alterations was about ;f 8000. There are no Briefs in the present day by



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which to raise such amounts, but the late Vicar of Clun, the Rev. Prebendary
Warner, actually discovered that the sum of ;£'222i . 12 . i in Consols was
due to the parish under the Brief of Charles II. I have shewn that
a Brief was issued in 1756 for ;^I420, and that on other occasions a church
rate was levied. Why such a large sum was allowed to remain idle for 200
years I cannot explain. The churchwardens of Clun did not take the trouble
to apply for the dividends on £336 . 14 between 1791 and 1798, and a
more serious lethargy seems to have gradually dissipated all knowledge of
the much larger sum. It is not a common failing when over ^^2000 is at
stake ! The present Vicar of Clun is unable to discover any particulars of
the way this money was made available or to prove that it was really the
Brief of Charles II. which produced it. The lamented death of Mr. Warner,
just before I began to study Clun church, dried up a source of knowledge
which would have been most helpful.

THE CHANCEL

was rebuilt under Mr. Street's direction in 1877. In the east wall are three
lancets with Purbeck shafts internally: there are pairs of similar lancets in
the north and south walls. The oak stalls and screen date from the same
period. Over the latter is a small rood recently removed from the east end.
In its place is a beautiful oak reredos, continued all along the east wall.
It was carved by Mr. Robert Bridgeman of Lichfield, and erected in memory
of one to whom this church owes much, the late Prebendary Warner, Vicar
of Clun from 1868 to 1897.

The roof is a continuation of that of the nave and is modern.
At the centre of its east end is a fine ancient canopy, not curved like that
at Ludlow (see p. 125), but simply pedimental. It is highly panelled, with
carved bosses at the intersections of the ribs. There are pinnacles at the
north-west and south-west corners, and three angels adorn the front. Most
of the car\'ing is old and dates from the Perpendicular period. I am told
that this fine canopy was moved from the east end of the north aisle, where
it doubtless covered a mediaeval altar.

The south wall contains three sedilia, piscina and credence, all
modem ; but there is one ancient feature, the round arch which forms the
entrance to the continuation of the south aisle, used as an organ chamber.
This is clearly Norman and has part of its original impost on each side, but
what is it doing here in the middle of modern stonework? I cannot find
out if it is in situ, but it was not moved in 1877. The matter is referred
to again later on.



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436 THE CHURCHES OF SHROPSHIRE.



THE NAVE

retains its Norman west wall pierced with a Norman window. This has a
square head over the arch, and the splay starts from the former. The pointed
doorway below is an insertion of the date of the tower.

The western part of the north and south walls is probably
contemporary with the west wall, and there is one arch of the same date —
the most easterly of the north arcade (see Plan and Plate L.) It is round,
once recessed and unchamfered, and looks early Norman, though plain work
is not necessarily early : the respond supporting it on the east side has been
renewed. It is difficult to explain its presence there, for the other three
arches are pointed and Transitional. The only explanation I can think of
is that it formed the entrance to a north transept, which was removed when
the north aisle was built, the arch being naturally incorporated with the
arcade which was erected to divide the nave from the aisle. Dwelling on
this theory one naturally looks for some evidence of a south transept The
corresponding arch on the south side is entirely new, and one cannot help
wondering if the Norman arch farther east (see Plan) has been moved at
some period from this position. If so, we may well suppose that there was
originally a south transept as well as a northern one, and that it was altered
at the same time and for the same reason. If the arch is in situ it would
seem that there were long aisles before the Transitional period, and that all
the dividing arches but two were then renewed. This is very unlikely.
Possibly, we have here the Norman chancel arch, which was too small for
the larger church of the Transitional period, and was moved to its present
position at that time or later to suit a long south aisle. I cannot find out
when it was blocked up and the aisle shortened to the length Mr. Street
found it in 1877. None of the theories I can think of to explain this arch
and the one round northern arch are satisfactory.

The north and south arcades must be further described. They
were in such a precarious state in 1877 that rebuilding was necessary. The
old material was, however, used up, and it is clear that the arcades are
Transitional or very late Norman with pointed arches of two orders.
The outer order is ornamented with a well cut zig-zag and there is a good
half-round on the inner order, and on the hood-moulding. The abaci are
of a characteristic Norman form, similar to that shewn in Fig. ID : the capitals
are deeply scolloped (see Plate L.). One of the latter is slightly different
from the others, — that on the most westerly column of the south arcade : it
has a carved head, in the middle of the scolloping, at the north-west comer.
Above this column is a grotesque and mutilated animal figure as a termina-
tion to the hood-moulding. The most easterly column on both sides is



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Plate L.



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CLUN. 437



entirely new, and, as mentioned before, the eastern arch on the south side is
new, and so is its eastern supporting respond. All the bases, of the Attic
type, are modern.

On the south side are six round-headed clerestory windows, the
easternmost being in the chancel and over the round arch. The others are
not over the arches as usual but above the columns, an unusual feature which
at first inclines one to think that the windows are earlier and lighted the
Norman nave. I think this is not so, but that the pointed arches were too
high to allow of windows being inserted between them and the late I2th
centur>' roof Like so much else at Clun these windows have been greatly
renewed (one is shewn in Plate L.), but the original form is more or less
represented, as may be gathered from the view in Ey ton's Antiquities, taken
long before the restoration of 1877.

There is no clerestory now on the north side, the lofty north aisle
making it impossible. There were, however, blocked clerestory windows in
1877, which were removed when the wall was rebuilt. The wall over the
south arcade is covered with plaster, and it is impossible to say whether it
dates from the Transitional period or whether it is the Norman wall shored
up while the Transitional arches were inserted.

The roof has been much renewed but retains several of the old
beams. It is of the collar type and dates from the Perpendicular period.
It is continuous with the modem chancel roof and has fifteen trusses in all,
of which the eight eastern ones are new, and the others mostly old.

The pulpit is an excellent Jacobean erection with sounding
board, partly renewed (see Plate L.). The carving is very good. The stone
base is modern. There is no sign of the pulpit which the parishioners of
1 77 1 decided to erect.

It is very unlikely that

THE NORTH AISLE

is of the same date as the arcade dividing it from the nave. An aisle 20 ft.
broad would be very unusual in the 12th century in a parish church. The
windows too are all later and so is one of the doorways. The buttresses
can scarcely be so early. The one feature which is clearly late Norman is
the main doorway. It is round-arched and of two unchamfered orders,
surmounted by a hollowed hood-moulding ending in heads : of these one
wears a kind of wimple and the other has a laughing face. The inner
order rests on a plain impost supported by masonry which is moulded with
a half-round similar to that on the arcades. Below the outer order are capitals
which are a good deal worn. On the eastern one is a kind of scolloping:
the western capital has undeveloped foliage. Everything fits in to a



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Transitional date, and I regard it as nearly certain that this was the doorway
of a narrower aisle of the same date as the arcades, and that it was moved
to its present place when the aisle was rebuilt on a larger scale. Its
unusual position in the extreme north-west corner (see Plan) may be due to
the fact that that part is immediately opposite the ancient street leading to
the church.

The rebuilding of the aisle evidently took place early in the
13th century, as is shewn by the character of the north windows, the buttresses
and the smaller doorway. The windows are lancets, broader than early lancets
generally are, but having lancet scoinson arches, which is an early sign.
The buttresses are of two stages, and very flat, the breadth being much greater
than the projection. They are not Norman but approximate to that form
and are what we might expect in the early part of the Early English period :
they have been much repaired. The smaller doorway, in the eastern part
of the aisle, bears clear marks of date. The dripstone has a fine row of
dog-tooth, most of which is old. This is of course an Early English sign,
and the early part of the period is indicated by the imposts, which are
almost of the Norman form shewn in Fig. 10. The arch and jambs are
chamfered, the latter spreading outwards towards the bottom to follow the
slope of the wall. I have often remarked on this characteristic in late 12th
and early 13th century buildings. In this case the outward slope is very
slight The jambs of the doorway have been greatly renewed, but one old
piece remains low down on the west side which shews that the slope is an
original feature of the doorway. The other jamb has, just below the impost,
the letters " H B R B " with date 1658. This may refer to some repairs
of that year, or may simply be an old example of the abominable habit
of cutting initials in unsuitable places. I have had occasion to point out
before that the custom is not a recent one (see p. 228). The dripstone ends
in heads, the western one being modern and the eastern one probably
original. Above is a large animal head, of bear-like appearance.

A word or two further must be said about the northern
windows, four in number. Some of the stones composing the lancets are
reddish and some greenish. The former seem to be original and the latter,
which entirely compose three of the arches, may date from the time after
the Civil War when the church was repaired. The four windows are not
all of exactly the same breadth.

The east window is a modern lancet The west window has
two lancets under one head : the detail is modern, but the opening, which
is high up in the wall, is evidently an ancient one (see Plate LI.).

Low down in the west wall, externally, is a rough blocked
arch, the use of which I cannot explain. The masonry of the east wall



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looks as if it had been disturbed : there was a debased door in its northern
part before 1877. In neither wall is there a straight joint or other proof
that two periods are represented. Both walls therefore may date from the
13th century and may retain no part of the east and west walls of the
late Norman aisle. I cannot explain why the east wall is so much thinner
than the others (see Plan).

In the north wall, outside, east of the smaller doorway is a
fine tomb recess of the 14th century. Its hood is a bold scroll, and the
arch below has two rows of ball-flowers : it is of the segmental pointed
form with cinquefoil cusping below. There is a good base table at the
bottom which has the scroll moulding. Much of the latter has been removed,
and some of the ball-flowers and jamb stones. The hood-moulding fits on
to the buttress east of it in such a way as to shew clearly that the buttress
is earlier than the recess. If the recess had been there when the buttress
was built, the latter would certainly have been erected a few inches farther
east. This is a further proof that the buttresses are Early English, and not
of the 17th century as their rough appearance might suggest.

The roof is one of the finest features in the church (see Plate L.).
It is of the collar type so common in the neighbourhood, but finer than
most of the other examples. There are eleven trusses, three of which have
tie-beams in addition to the collars. The pitch is acute, being less than a
right angle. Three rows of bold quatrefoils on each side form purlin-braces,
but these and the upright panel h'ng at the bottom of each side appear to
have been renewed very largely. There are twenty-two angels holding
shields : most of the carving is old, but the wings look new.

The renewal I am so often obliged to mention has greatly
affected the font, but, judging by the view in Ey ton's Antiquities^ the old
form is retained. The bowl is octagonal, and rests on a central octagonal
shaft, surrounded by eight small columns. Above the capitals is a string-
course composed of the scroll moulding, shewing that the font dates from
the Decorated period. From the moulding of the capitals, I should further
judge that the early part of the period is indicated. On the western face
of the bowl is a nice geometrical design slightly incised.

The eastern part of the aisle is fitted up as a chapel for
daily services, and shut off" by a modern screen (see Plate L.). Against
the walls is some excellent Jacobean carving of the same type as the
pulpit, and taken from old pews. Near the south-east comer is an
elaborately carved stone shield of arms. I cannot discuss the heraldry at
length, but, from the arms in the first quarter, I judge the monument
to refer to a member of the important family of Harley of Brampton
Castle : there is no name or date. The shield is evidently not in situ.



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440 THE CHURCHES OF SHROPSHIRE.



but where it was originally, and whether it formed part of a larger
monument, I cannot say.

Above this shield of arms is the chief monument of Clun, a brass
commemorating Sir Robert Howard, Knight of the Bath, who died in 1653.
He was the fifth son of Thomas, Earl of Suffolk, Lord High Treasurer of
England, and married Katherine Nevill, daughter of Henry, Lord Abergavenny.
The Howard family ceased to have any connection with Clun till quite
recently, when the present Duke of Norfolk bought Clun Castle The
inscription on the brass is within an oval border, and is surrounded by
flower and leaf ornament. There are four shields of arms. In the upper
corners are a skull and a skeleton holding a dart. The lower corners display
an hour-glass, and cross-bones. The brass, which measures 22 by 15^
inches, was formerly in the chancel, combined with a marble monument
against the south wall. It is now placed so high that examination is
diflicult : the ornament is quite non-existent to the ordinary spectator.

THE PORCH

is built in a very unusual place at the north-west comer of the north aisle.
There is very little to indicate its date. The outer arch is almost three-
centred, but is really a segmental arch rather flattened in the middle. It
dies into the wall without imposts. The Plan marks the porch as Decorated,
but it might be a little earlier or much later. It is clearly later than the
aisle. If the porch had been intended when the aisle was built, surely the
main doorway of the church would have been placed a little farther east,
the west wall of the porch being continuous with that of the aisle ; but if
the porch was added later it would be quite necessary to build its west
wall in its present position to allow of a proper distance from the doorway
on either side. The porch, too, appears to be built against the aisle,
though the indications are not so clear as they sometimes are.

The upper part seems to have been entirely rebuilt in 1877.
Its gable is part-timbered and has an ornamental barge-board (see Plate LI.).
The chamber is approached by stairs leading from a modem doorway in
the aisle : it contains a Jacobean chest and large table : the windows are
new.

THE SOUTH AISLE

is entirely new, and, like other modern Norman work, has a very
uninteresting and machine-made appearance : the south doorway is correct
enough in its mouldings and zig-zags, but is quite lifeless. Till the
alterations in 1877, there was a broader, though shorter aisle here, whose
limits are still marked by blocks of stone in the churchyard no less than



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Plate LI.



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23 ft 2 in. from the south wall (see Plan). These probably mark the outside


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Online LibraryMartin J. Harding David Herbert Somerset CranageAn architectural account of the churches of Shropshire, Volume 1, Parts 4-5 → online text (page 17 of 19)