A virtual walk around St Mary's Church

The West Door On to the Font Back to the South Entrance The door from outside The Nave

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You are at the West Door

Virtual Walk Index Page
South Porch
Inside the South Porch
South Entrance
North Aisle
North Transept
The Crossing
South Transept
South Aisle


Walk around the outside

History of the Church

An inside view of the West Door

The massive west doorway is typical of a Norman church. It has the typical rounded arch, a style which was confined chiefly to the period from 1066 to 1154. The Norman doorways into the church are highly decorated with concentric arches that receded into the thickness of the wall. The inside is decorated but nothing like as elaborately as the concentric arches on the outside. Decorative elements were few in the 11th century; the most distinctive being the Norman chevron (zigzag) pattern, most frequently found on the recessed borders framing doors, the arches and the windows.

The stone floor is inlaid with tile. Nowadays much of this is covered by carpet at the West end.

This is not the original set of doors. We believe the church has had five sets of doors. This set has been here since the 1850's. Engravings before this time have shown stable style doors. The current doors most probably look like the original door in the church. They are made of oak and are incredibly strong.


Standing back looking at the West door from the Central Aisle

Norman architecture tends to be a round shape style. The Normans used barely skilled Saxons as labourers and the tools they used were limited axes, chisels etc. Therefore churches like St Mary's tended to be built from rather large stones.

Norman walls and pillars had faced stone on the outer surfaces and rubble was put into the hollow between the cut stone. This method of building was not particularly strong. To get round this and strengthen them, the Normans made their walls much thicker than later styles of building which relied on specifically cut stone.

Stone cutting was a skill brought to England by the Normans. Over several generations the Saxons became very skilled as the Normans and Saxons became more integrated.

To assist in the support of the roofs, the Normans used large pillars.
These allowed the weight of the roof to be dispersed into the foundations via the pillars, saving the walls from taking all of the weight of the roof. There are twelve pillars, to represent the twelve apostles.

The Windows were built in a similar shape to the door arches but remained very small and let in little light. At the time of building the Normans did not have the technology to allow for very large windows and still be able to support the very heavy roof.

Looking down the central aisle from the west door to the altar

The church was designed so that the high altar is higher than the rest of the church. It was easier to construct the building in this way since it is built into rising ground. This emphasized the position of the high altar, any associated shrine, and the stalls of the choir and clergy. The Nave has a wooden roof, but in the distance you can see that the chancel has a stone vaulted roof.



On to the Font Back to the South Entrance The door from outside