St George, Anstey, Hertfordshire

Feature Sets (3)

Description

The church comprises chancel, crossing tower, N and S transepts, and nave. The nave has N and S aisles, S porch, and clerestorey. The crossing survives from the original 12thc. cruciform church. The original transepts were rebuilt in the late 13thc. as was the chancel. The nave arcades are early 14thc. Much of the exterior has been rendered, with the exception of the tower and transepts which have rubble walls. The transept walls are coursed. The church was restored by William Butterfield in 1869-72.

History

DS does not mention a priest at Anstey. The advowson appears to have descended with the manor. In the late 17thc. it was sold to the Masters and Fellows of Christ's College, Cambridge, who still hold it.

Features

Interior Features

Arches

Tower/Transept arches

Crossing arches

The arches are narrow, round-headed, and of one order, with the exception of the the W face of the W arch and the W face of the E arch. These are of two orders and are the only ones with sculpture. The jambs of the first order of each arch are chamfered. The chamfer is incised at the edges and has a small billet stop-chamfer at top and bottom. The impost is hollow-chamfered with a roll on the angle. Each arch (apart from the W face of W and E arches) has a chamfered label. The alignment of the crossing is not square, and the chancel inclines slightly to the S, and the S transept inclines slightly to the E.

E arch, W face, second order

Attic bases on a double-stepped plinth (the first step of the plinth is chamfered) support nook shafts, as W arch. These have shaft rings at the centre and top. The plain bell capitals have necking and integral abaci.

The arch has a nook roll carved with series of bobbin mouldings with a variety of roll profiles. From N: double-chamfered; chamfered; round with rolls at sides; double chamfered with rolls at sides and top; double-chamfered with rolls at sides; chamfered; chamfered; round with small double rolls at sides; double-chamfered with rolls at sides; round; chamfered; chamfered.

The label has a shallow roll followed by a fillet.

W arch, W face, second order

Attic bases on a double-stepped plinth (the first step of the plinth is chamfered) support nook shafts. These have shaft rings at the centre and top. The capitals have necking and integral abaci.

N capital: a large volute on the angle, with an incised spiral on each face. From the centre of the volute an undercut leaf stem extends to the S and terminates in an acanthus leaf which faces the volute. On the N is a similar leaf, but the stem has broken off.

S capital: similar to N capital, but both leaf stems have broken off. Each leaf faces downward and away from the volute.

The arch has a nook roll carved with series of bobbin mouldings with a variety of roll profiles. From L: round; chamfered; double-chamfered; round with a small roll at top and sides; chamfered; round with rolls at sides; double-chamfered with rolls at sides; round; two double-chamfered rolls; round with rolls at sides, chamfered; a small roll followed by a larger one, a gap between the two.

The label has a shallow hollow chamfer, followed by a roll, then a fillet.

Furnishings

Fonts

The font has a square bowl with a chamfered, round, lower edge, supported on a central column and four slender colonnettes. The shallow, round base is chamfered. The bowl is carved with a merman on each angle. The tail of each merman divides in two, each side curving up to the adjacent face where it is gripped by the hand of the merman. The faces and hair of each merman differ slightly but all are crudely carved and stylised. Each figure is clothed in a tunic with a loose, deep collar. There is a deep crack running down the S face, which has been repaired, and there are repairs around the bottom of the bowl. One of the colonnettes has been broken and repaired. The chamfered lower edge of the bowl has a section which projects away from the bowl on the E face. The stone of the font is a pale limestone. Lead lined.

Dimensions
d. of bowl 0.33 m
h. of base and column 0.67 m
h. of bowl 0.40 m
total h. not incl. modern plinth 1.07 m
w. of bowl 0.65 m

Comments/Opinions

Pevsner compares the shaft rings in the E and W crossing arches to those found in the (reset) slype arcading from St Albans Cathedral, but feels that those at Anstey are later in date, perhaps as late as c.1200. Thurlby also makes a similar comparison. The Anstey mouldings are however less formalised and more idiosyncratic than the St Albans bobbin mouldings. Thurlby also compares the acanthus leaves on the Anstey arch with the St Albans carvings, although the St Albans carvings are considerably more refined and developed.

The font, although with Romanesque features, must be very late 12thc. or early 13thc. judging by the style of the figure carving. Bond suggests 13thc.

A font of the same type is found in the the church of St Peter, Cambridge.

Bibliography

  • The Victoria County History: A History of the County of Hertford, London, 1914, 4:12, 16.
  • F. Bond, Fonts and Font Covers, Oxford, 1908 (London, 1985), 206.
  • N. Pevsner and B. Cherry, The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, Harmondsworth, 1953 (1977), 70-72.
  • M. Thurlby, 'The Place of St Albans in Regional Sculpture and Architecture in the Second Half of the Twelfth Century', Alban and St Albans: Roman and Medieval Architecture, Art and Archaeology, British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions, 24, Leeds, 2001, 163.

Location

Site Location
Anstey
National Grid Reference
TL 404 329 
Boundaries
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Hertfordshire
now: Hertfordshire
Diocese
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: St Albans
Dedication
now: St George
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Hazel Gardiner