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836/1/164 ST GEORGE'S SQUARE
22-MAY-54 CHURCH OF ST GEORGE
DATES OF MAIN PHASES/ NAMES OF ARCHITECTS:
C12 or earlier in origin, but the earliest visible fabric is the C13 W door and the C13 arcade bases and parts of the piers. The piers were rebuilt in the earlier C14 and the chancel arch in the later C14.In the mid C15, the chancel was rebuilt and the aisles rebuilt. Tower rebuilt and altered in the C17. Clerestory is also probably C17. Significant additions and restoration in the C19, including the W porch, transepts, W ends of the aisles, N vestry and SE organ chamber and porch, with work in the 1840s-60s to designs by Edward Browning and in the 1880s to designs by J C Traylen.
Limestone including some Barnack stone, lead roofs.
Chancel with N vestry and S organ chamber and porch, nave with N and S aisles and N and S transeptal chapels. W tower enclosed within the W end of the aisles.
Except for the tower, externally the church is wholly Perpendicular in appearance, though much restored and altered in the C19. Embattled throughout, with fine beast heads on the chancel clerestory. The nave has square-headed, 2-light clerestory windows, possibly early C17. The N and S aisles, transepts and N and S chancel walls have tall windows with four-centred or triangular heads and cusped lights. The 5-light E window has vertical tracery. The E window of the vestry is reset from the N wall of the chancel; the E window of the S transept comes from the S wall of the chancel. The windows in the N wall of the vestry and the S wall of the organ chamber came from the aisles. The C15 S chancel door has been re-set in the E wall of the SE organ chamber. The unbuttressed W tower of the C17 is rectangular as it was reduced in size at its rebuilding. Of four stages, it has an embattled parapet. The C14 W window with flowing tracery has been reset and below it is a shallow W porch of 1848 and a possibly C13 trefoil-headed door. The bell stage has tall, C17 two light windows with transoms.
Internally, the church is open and spacious with very tall arcades and more obviously C13 and C14 in character. Late C14 chancel arch of two orders, the outer continuous, the inner on polygonal shafts with moulded capitals. The nave arcades are C13 in origin, but were remodelled in the C14 to make them taller. The bases and round parts of the shafts are C13, the polygonal sections and the matching moulded capitals are C14. Originally of three bays with a wider central arch, the long E responds on both sides of the arcades were pierced by smaller arches in the late C14 on the N and the C15 on the S. At the E end of the N wall are the remains of the former rood stair. The former E window of the S aisle is now unglazed and opens into the organ chamber; that on the N has been reshaped and the mullions removed. Four corbels in the N aisle relate to a former roof. The aisles extend past the W tower. The C13 tower arch has been reset at a higher level, with the lower part of the tower enclosed with a gallery above it.
Very good roofs, quite similar throughout. Low-pitched, C15 chancel roof with cambered tie beams, moulded purlins, carved bosses at the intersections with the ridge, embattled wall plates and repainted angels holding shields. The nave roof is similar to that in the chancel, but some of the angels were removed when the clerestory was inserted. The N and S aisle roofs are like those in the nave and chancel, but are monopitched. The C19 transept roofs copy them.
The church was refurnished in the C19, but these furnishings have largely been removed, with the mid C19 low box pews, possibly by Edward Browning, removed c.1887, and much of the rest in the C20. C19 altar rails and panelling in the chancel, and some of the former choir stalls now at the back of the church. C19 encaustic tiles in the chancel. In the chancel a very restored trefoiled piscina reused as a shelf, with further niches in the N and S aisles. Possibly C14 font, with a plain, tapered polygonal bowl and a moulded polygonal base.
The church retains some medieval glass. In the chancel N window, 130 complete and 60 half-quarries (re-used fragments) with the Garter and black letter mottoes, assembled in 1732, and including a number of presumably C18 copies: these relate to the chancel's donor, Sir William Bruges (see below). Also in the chancel a C15 St Catherine and a St Anne teaching the Virgin to read, with other fragments, in a later setting. In the N aisle, more re-set Garter mottoes and other fragments, some of the C14 and early C16. Many clear-glazed windows, but also some C19 and C20 glass, notably the E window of the Annunciation by Wailes and Clayton and Bell of 1869, and S aisle W window by Hugh Arnold of 1909 in memory of the architect J C Traylen, with a cock standing on a plan of the church below an angel with a cross.
Some wall tablets in the nave, and a group of good monuments in the chancel, including John Wydbore, d.1674, on the NE window sill; Rev. Richard Atlay, d.1832, a white marble tablet; and a group of monuments to members of the Cust family, the largest of which is a large memorial to Sir Richard Cust, d. 1734, and his wife Elizabeth, d.1779, with a female figure leaning on a pillar against an obelisk, signed J Bacon, 1797. Among the others, Ursula Cust, d. 1683/4, a draped and swagged cartouche; Savile Cockayne Cust, d. 1772 by W Tyler, a niche with drapery and an urn above a cornice supported on pilasters and a circular inscription panel, are particularly notable. Small, wooden WWII memorial with a well-carved St George and the Dragon.
The church has a complex construction history. The earliest surviving fabric is C13, but it is likely that there was already a substantial church here by that date. A small fragment of C12 chevron is preserved in the tower. The church received a gift of timber from King Henry III in 1229, and another gift of timber specifically for an aisle in 1244. This latter date accords well with the style of the C13 nave arcade bases, suggesting both aisles were added around this time, as was the tower. In the early C14 the nave arcades were remodelled and heightened, retaining the bases and parts of the piers. The chancel arch was rebuilt in the late C14, and the arch to the N chapel was remodelled or inserted at the E end of the arcade. In the mid C15, the chancel was rebuilt, funded by a bequest from Sir William Bruges, first Garter King of Arms, d.1450; the Garter motto stained glass was probably part of this work. The arch to the S chapel was also inserted or remodelled c.1450. In the late C15, the nave was reroofed and the aisle walls rebuilt. There was considerable work in the C17, including the insertion or remodelling of the clerestory, raising the C15 roof, and the partial rebuilding of the tower using older materials, making it narrower from E to W and creating the unusual oblong plan. The chancel and transepts were re-roofed in the C18.
The church was extensively restored and enlarged in the C19 including the addition of the W porch in 1848-9 by Edward Browning, the N vestry in 1862, and the SE organ chamber and porch in 1878, also to designs by Browning. In 1887, the church was enlarged with the addition of the N and S transepts, the extension of the aisles to the W around the tower to designs by J C Traylen. Also at this time the organ chamber and vestry were altered. The pews, possibly installed as part of the work of 1848-9, were removed as part of this work and replaced with chairs. Edward Browning was a Stamford architect who worked extensively on local churches in the mid C19, and John Charles Traylen (1844/5-1907) was another locally important architect in the Lincolnshire, Rutland, Leicestershire and N Cambridgeshire areas in the late C19, and was a successor to Browning's practice from the early 1880s.
Pevsner, N and Harris, J., Buildings of England, Lincolnshire (2002), 689-90
RCHM Stamford (1977), 11-14
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION:
The church of St George, Stamford is designated at Grade I for the following principal reasons:
* Large town church of the C13-C17.
* Well documented date for the mid C15 chancel and indicative dates of the C13 work on the aisles.
* Association with William Bruges, first Garter King of Arms, and with the Order of the Garter, including mid C15 stained glass with Garter mottoes.
* Excellent mid C15 roofs in chancel, nave and aisles.
* Unusual gothic Survival W tower, rebuilt in the C17 and a clerestory of the same date.
* Some good monuments, such as the 1797 Cust monument by John Bacon.
* Sympathetic restoration and extension of the late C19 by J C Traylen.