Saturday, December 14, 2013

Long Marton, St Margaret and St James

St Margaret and St James
Long Marton

The Grade I listing text states that the nave's North and West walls, and possibly part of the South wall date from before 1066, but Mike Salter in his The Old Parish Churches of Cumbria, dates these portions of the church to the 12th century. The tower dates from the 12th century and contains a good set of draw bar slots on the doorway into the nave.

Above. View of the 12th century tower from the church yard.

Above. Carved tympana in the doorway of the tower\Nave.

The tympana shown above, are probably pre-conquest, and were discovered and set in their current position during the 19th century rebuild of the church. I originally missed this carving due to the darkness of the tower. Only afterwards did I realise that I'd managed to photograph it. See this link for more photos of these Norman carvings.

Above. Draw bar slot and rebates in the tower\Nave doorway.

There is also a set of heavy iron hinges on the wall within the tower indicating that there would have been a door separating the Nave from the tower at some point. For the draw bar slots to have been any use, there must have been a door within the thickness of the wall, but there are now no signs or remains of hinges.

Above. Draw bar slot and rebates in the tower\Nave doorway.

It's therefore obvious that the tower at Long Marton was designed to be a safe or secure location, but most likely, as Philip Davis has pointed out to me in the past, as security rather than defence. There are no signs of fireplaces on any of the floors of the tower, indicating that it was not designed as a place of refuge or as somewhere to live, though I was unable to gain access to the first floor of the tower. The staircase to this level is a later addition, as shown on Mike Salter's plans, and leads to the wooden gallery that looks out over the Nave towards the Chancel. Philp Davis interestingly points out that churches may have been permanently occupied, so there may have been instances where the church doors needed to be locked to prevent entry whilst business or services were conducted in private, or so that no one could 'sneak' in unnoticed to steal valuables. 

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