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Zigging and Zagging at the Church

Stewkley church  Bucks

The Monday Photo

Chevrons are perhaps the most well recognised decoration in Norman buildings. This is St Michael’s church, Stewkley and it has many of them.

The church was built around 1150; masons, men not too different from us, built this church over 870 years ago. Chevrons or zig-zags are both the earliest and the most common decoration in Norman work, and there are two styles in this photo.

The horizontal string course has a double row of simple chevrons, with one row offset from the other. But around the windows there is just one row of more complex layered chevrons. These are very similar if not identical to mouldings on the West front of the church. 

There’s just the right amount of decoration in the church, somehow lightening the effect of the heavy masonry; imagine this scene with no mouldings. There’s another string course at the same height on the outside of the building.

This church, hardly altered over the centuries, shows an integrated design that gets lost when later alterations to churches (typically side aisles and larger windows) are made.

St Michael’s is one of just three Norman churches in this country that retain their original plan, in this case of a nave, a chancel under a central tower, (common on Norman churches) and beyond that a sanctuary.

This church is open every day between 9 am and 5 pm. If you'd like a foretaste, there's a more detailed post on St Michael’s church, Stewkley on the North Bucks Wanderer.

This post's photo was taken with a Pentax camera and lens.

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