Tuesday, April 06, 2010

St James, Moulton Chapel

click photo to enlarge

Sometimes I get it wrong. When I first came upon the church of St James at Moulton Chapel, Lincolnshire, a couple of years ago, I thought I was looking at a nineteenth century building. I can only think that it was the rather industrial looking roof that fooled me, but as I stood on the path, near where I took this recent photograph, I was thinking it was a whimsical building from the period between 1820 and 1840, a time before Gothic had properly established itself as the only style for churches. However, as I walked towards it those thoughts soon disappeared as the eighteenth century details forced themselves upon my attention. In fact, I was about 100 years adrift with my initial estimation, because this octagonal church is the work of William Sands Senior, and was built in 1722 as a chapel of ease. The large, inscribed, scrolled cartouche decorated with palms above the main door was the first clue: its style is clearly Georgian. But, if I'd missed that, then the date prominently carved in it, MDCCXXII, was a bit of a giveaway! So too were the giant pilasters with ashlar capitals and bases and the details of the semi-circular headed windows and blank arches. Georgian architects occasionally toyed with novel Classical forms for churches, and if I'd remembered seeing the odd octagonal church attached to a medieval tower at Stoney Middleton in Derbyshire, then perhaps I wouldn't have been so easily fooled.

William Sands intended the building to have a cupola, a detail that would have been more in keeping with its eighteenth century origins. Another oddity of this building, and one that may have played its part in leading me astray, is the chancel (see smaller image) that was added to the octagon in 1886, using details sympathetic to the original work. It is visually quite clumsy, and detracts from the simplicity and elegance of the original concept.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 14mm (28mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f4.5
Shutter Speed: 1/640
ISO: 200
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On