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All Saints, Kirtling, Cambridgeshire

(52°11′27″N, 0°27′54″E)
TL 686 576
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Cambridgeshire
now Cambridgeshire
medieval not confirmed
now Ely
  • Ron Baxter

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Feature Sets

12thc. nave with later aisles. The nave is six bays long, and on the N side the Perpendicular arcade is indeed of six bays. The S aisle, raised above the level of the nave, is largely of c.1200 with chamfered round-headed arches and moulded capitals, but the arcade is only four bays long on the inside (bay 4 is Perpendicular). On the outside the aisle is seen to continue westwards for a fifth bay, which acts as a porch for the 12thc. S doorway. This still leaves one unaisled bay, and in this is a small, round-headed, 12thc. window. The chancel has a brick S chapel of c.1500, the North Chapel, built by the first Baron North who died in 1564, and whose tomb it houses. The W tower is Perpendicular, along with the clerestorey of the nave, and it is clear that a major remodelling took place around 1500. Apart from the North Chapel the construction is of flint and pebble with a good deal of render.


In 1086 Kirtling was held by Countess Judith, the niece of William I (daughter of his half-sister Adelaide and Lambert, Count of Lens), and widow of Earl Waltheof of Huntingdon and Northumbria. It was assessed at 6 hides and included fisheries giving 5,500 eels and a park for wild beasts.


Exterior Features




The debt to the Prior's Doorway at Ely Cathedral is unmistakeable. Particular points of comparison are the two corbel heads turned to face outwards on curving necks. As at Ely the L is bearded and the R clean-shaven, while the ear of the R head at Ely is similar in form to those carved here. The figure of Christ at Kirtling uses many of the same fold conventions as the Ely Christ, including the loop at the waist, and there is a similar interest in decorative borders, although those at the Cathedral are simply drilled. The curious flying drapery strand below the elbow here makes much more sense in the Ely prototype. It is tempting to suppose that paint may originally have been used to provide, for example, the flanking angels found at Ely. The curious juxtaposition of a richly carved Christ in an otherwise uncarved tympanum would be hard to account for without it. Having followed Ely in the Christ and the corbels, the Kirtling carvers apparently found the elaborate foliage carving of the Prior's Doorway completely beyond them, and although the basic three-order design was followed, the capitals, shafts and arches of the outer orders were given a more conventional treatment.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Cambridgeshire, Harmondsworth 1954 (2nd ed. 1970), 418-20.