Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pirton, Worcestershire


Art of oak

This is the unusual church tower I mentioned in the previous post. There are not many timber-framed church towers around, but Worcestershire, one of those western counties where timber-framed buildings are quite common, has a few. Even so, encountering this one a real surprise, not least because the church is way outside its village, so the black and white tower rears up in contrast to a background of russet trees and green and brown fields.

The wooden frame of St Peter’s, Pirton, has a profusion of uprights or studs – what timber-frame specialists refer to as ‘close-studding’. This is a form of framework most common in southeast England, but it is used in the West Midlands for high-status buildings (put up by people who could afford the oak and the skilled labour) and where the structure warrants it. It suits a tall building, giving it plenty of strength when combined with the flanking structures, almost like miniature aisles, with their sloping crucks that brace the building. These putative aisles are also unusual, although Pevsner points out that there are similar structures flanking church towers in Essex.

How old is it? This can be a difficult question with timber-framed buildings, where there is often little of the stylistic evidence that helps us to date stone buildings. The details of carpentry that can sometimes help date wooden buildings haven’t helped here, and estimates range from the 14th to the 16th century.

12 comments:

Thud said...

Thata quite a time span,has nobody done any dendro on it?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Not as far as I know. One of these days...

The Bewildered Brit said...

Beautiful! This is a church I would desperately like to visit. Not only for this astonishing tower but also because I believe quite a lot of the original 12th century Romanesque interior is still in good nick.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Yes - part-Romanesque, part-Gothic, the usual English mixture. Very well worth a visit.

martin said...

Two very disparate architectural elements,which-the more I look at it-seem to work well together.
Its slightly weird,but not as weird as the house in Stratford.

Wartime Housewife said...

It looks like a late mediaeval rocket. Oh dear, that sounds like a ghastly modern hymn:
"Put me in a rocket and fire me at the Lord!"

Greg Watts said...

What a wonderful looking church. It reminds me of an mint humbug.

Peter Ashley said...

Love that tower. Because it's so un-ecclesiastical, with none of the normal details of lucarnes or crockets etc. More like a set for Grimm's Fairy Tales.

Editor said...

Gorgeous photo and absolutely a first-rate example - I've never seen anything else quite like it...

Had to Twitter it.

Great blog, BTW!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thanks, Editor, and the rest of you, for the appreciative comments. I'll look out for more mint humbugs!

dave e said...

Beautiful. So unusual

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thank you, Dave, for your comment.