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St Helen's Church, Cumberworth

Reference Name MLI41986

St Helen's Church, Cumberworth

St Helen's Church, Cumberworth.


PRN 41986
St Helen's Church retains medieval features but was mainly rebuilt in 1838. The priest's doorway is 12th century, the south doorway is Perpendicular and in the north window Decorated reticulated tracery is evident. {1}{2}{3}

An excavation and watching brief recorded several phases relating to the church. Initially, a soil platform about 600mm thick was placed over the mid to late Anglo-Saxon cemetery on the site (PRN44039), sealing it completely. Evidence for a timber church, predating the stone church, consisted of postholes thought to represent external walls of earth-fast posts spaced regularly. Dating for the construction of this timber building is uncertain at present, but its demolition probably took place no later than the end of the 10th century, as no pottery later than 10th century was found in the rubble foundation for the first stone church. The first stone church was a two-cell building, measuring about 9m by 6m, consisting of a nave with a north and south door, and a chancel only slightly narrower than the nave. A series of plaster and clay floor surfaces tentatively dated to the 11th-12th centuries were recorded in the nave and chancel. The next recorded phase relating to the church was a sequence of graves confined within the walls of the first stone church, tentatively dated to the 12th-15th centuries - no specific dating evidence was recovered. Probably during the late 13th or early 14th century, the nave was extended about 1.96m westwards. A series of postholes related to the central axis of the chancel (before its reduction in size in 1671), and a foundation may be for a step backed by a screen of earth-fast posts. At some time in the late 14th or early 15th century, the entire church was demolished and rebuilt, including provision of a font and painted window glass, and the church may have been entirely paved. Some earlier features were reused, including 14th century windows and the chancel door of about 1200 AD. During the post-medieval period, an external porch, floored in brick and thought to date to the 15th or 16th century, was added to the west of the south door of the nave. Faint roof scar lines can be seen above the present south door. Putlog holes to either side of this door suggest the porch may have had a timber superstructure or been entirely timber-framed. Also during the post medieval period, the chancel was reduced in length, and width on the north side, to what may be half its medieval size. The discovery of a date stone inscribed '1671' beneath plaster on the rebuilt external north wall of the chancel probably dates the chancel rebuild. A fragment of an Anglo-Saxon grave slab of late 10th-11th century date is built into the east face of the fireplace in the former nave. The slab may have formed part of a floor, as the surface is worn. The grave slab may have originated from the mid to late Anglo-Saxon cemetery which existed on this site prior to the church (see PRN 44039). A pair of 9th century tweezers, thought to be used for turning the pages of religious documents, were recovered from a grave, but this is probably not their primary context. {4}

A parish church, which is now closed. It was built in the 13th century and underwent alterations in the 14th and 15th centuries and was rebuilt in 1838. For the full description and the legal address of this listed building please refer to the appropriate List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. {5}

3 Bibliographic Reference: Pevsner, N. and Harris, J., with Antram, N.. 1989. Buildings of England (Second Edition). Lincolnshire. PP245-6
4 Intervention Report: Hampshire Archaeology/Test Valley Archaeological Trust. 1997. St Helen's Church, Cumberworth. SHC96
5 Index: Department of the Environment. 1987. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.

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Last updated: 06-December-2017 13:52:59

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