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King's Lynn, Norfolk - St Nicholas Chapel


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Notes in italics from North-West and South Norfolk by Nikolaus Pevsner
(1962) Penguin Books, now published by Yale University Press

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ST NICHOLAS, St Ann's Street. A chapel of ease founded in 1146; not a parish church. Except for the SW tower built at one go in the early C15 and called 'de novo edificata' in 1419. E.E. tower, lying lower than the rest. To the W doorway with continuous chamfers, to the W, N, and S blank giant arch on thin shafts. On the first floor blank window of two lights with a quatrefoil in plate tracery and a little nailhead decoration. Bell-openings with a circle in bar tracery. The pretty lead spire is by Sir George Gilbert Scott, 1869.


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The E wall of the tower is different. It has three blocked lancets and probably represents the W wall of the C13 church, before the tower was built. The Perp church is eleven bays long without any structural division. Externally the only accents are the doorways in the second and seventh bays and the splendid S porch of two storeys in front of the second bay. Above the entrance a row of flat niches, above that very delicate panelling between three more niches. Panelled parapet. Inside the porch a lively lierne-star-vault with figured bosses (not shown).


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The details of St Nicholas are notably wilful, especially the window tracery, in spite of the fact that it follows the same principle throughout. The aisle and chapel windows and the clerestory windows all have segmental arches. In the aisles and chapels they have two-centred arches under, and these are again subdivided. There are every so often unexpected diagonal lines. The same character appears in the N aisle W window, and even in the huge W and E windows, of eleven and nine lights respectively. On the W side the doorway cuts into the window.


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The interior shows no sign of a change of plan from E to W. Piers of lozenge plan, finely subdivided. Capitals only to the thin shafts under the arches. The abaci here are concave-sided.


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The shaft towards the nave rises to the roof. Before it reaches the wall-posts it is flanked by two niches with little vaults. The roof has tie-beams on arched braces. Above the tie-beams tracery and arched queenposts. ... The large angels are not mentioned by Pevsner and must be quite recent.


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The N doorways again very capricious. They have heads of three sides of an octagon and the western one is cusped and subcusped. In the chancel on the N side yet another such doorway. Double-concave-sided gable, cusping and subcusping. To its r. demi-figure of an angel in an oblong niche. It is too small for an Easter Sepulchre. Opposite badly mutilated, once very rich sedilia and piscina. They had miniature vaults.


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