Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Glynde, Sussex


Palladian geometry

Coming along the main village street of Glynde, past cottages and an almost absurdly quaint smithy with horseshoe-shaped doorway, there is an abrupt change of gear when you reach St Mary’s church, a Palladian structure of the 1760s, which itself acts as a kind of prelude to the cupola-topped Georgian stables of the big house, Glynde Place, just a little further beyond. The west front of St Mary’s is all triangles and semi-circles. It would be a rather severe exercise in Palladian geometry, but its small size tempers the severity and gives it charm.

The architect was an amateur, Sir Thomas Robinson, and he made good use of flint for the main walls and neat ashlar for the porch and the triangular pediments. Like virtually every church architect using this kind of classical architecture, Robinson found no real solution to the problem of combining a “classical temple” frontage with a bell turret. So the turret looks a bit odd atop the pediment, but its triangular top and semi-circular arch echo the triangles and arches below, giving the design some consistency.

The charm continues inside, with an interior full of box pews that features a wooden west gallery and other Georgian furnishings. Best of all is the plasterwork around the east window, with its rosettes set in octagons. This is a lovely touch and isn’t quite spoiled by the stained glass by Kempe, in a sort of Renaissance revival style of the 1890s, which would look better in a Victorian church. But even it includes semi-circles and triangles, continuing the geometrical theme and maintaining a certain harmony.

8 comments:

Daniel James Shigo said...

May I say how much I enjoy your writing and blog? It gives me great pleasure. Thank you!

Philip Wilkinson said...

DJS: Thank you so much.

*Maristella* said...

Hi Philip...wonderful, questi sono luoghi meravigliosi! Noi ci siamo stati in alcuni e sono davvero magici!
Un caro saluto, *Maristella*.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Maristella: Grazie mille.

Jon Dudley said...

Sussex at last!!! Hurrah.

Good old Glynde, such a dear old village with it's forge and horseshoe shaped door. And what views Eastward from behind the church! Thank you for covering it so descriptively. Next stop Glyndebourne?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Jon: No opera on this occasion and, rather than a picnic on the lawn, a picnic on the beach near Hastings with friends, one of whom was celebrating a birthday. A wander around Lewes, a glance at the Martello towers at Pevensey Bay, and a couple of medieval churches were included in the trip. So more Sussex soon, I hope!

Jon Dudley said...

The three round towered Ouse valley churches are worth a look.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thanks - I'll make a note of them, Jon. They'll take their place alongside other buildings that my Sussex friends are recommending for my next visit.