Icknield Indagations - one hundred thousand page views!
The architectural highlight of Standon church, which stands on a steep slope, is the chancel arch. It's marvellously extravagant and full of swagger, with its dogtooth ornament and stiffleaf capitals, and made all the more imposing by being approached up eight steps. It dates from the early 13th century; however, the detached pink Devonshire marble columns are replacements dating from the 1864 restoration by George Godwin (1813-88) and his brother Henry (1831-1917) - why this was thought necessary or advisable I don't know.
Another striking feature is the pair of smaller arches flanking the chancel. They're squints (sometimes a bit pompously called hagioscopes), intended to allow a view of the high altar; these ones have arched tops and are bigger than average.
The chancel, which slopes up slightly towards the altar (which itself sits atop a further five steps), is also essentially 13th century but was practically rebuilt by the Godwins.
The mid-14th century nave and wide aisles, which have no stained glass at all and are therefore full of light, are spacious and display a wide variety of flowing tracery designs in the windows.* Bettley/Pevsner comments that the arcade piers 'seem later' than this date, and it's true that their angularity makes it look as if they could have been designed a century later. The probable explanation is that, for a reason mysterious to me, some church builders eagerly seized on the new Perpendicular style as soon as it made its first appearances.
The 15th century saw the addition of two features unique to the county: a west porch, and a detached bell tower. The latter is to the south of the chancel, an unusual location perhaps suggested by the elevation of the land. It has a typical Herts spike. In fact the tower is no longer detached thanks to the Godwins, who built an organ loft between it and the church.
|East window by Clayton and Bell, 1865 (Transfiguration)
|Crudely carved but vigorous image bracket in the chancel
|One of several mid 14th century label stops in the north aisle
|Old chest currently hemmed in by new cardboard boxes
|Unusually frank gravestone
|View of south arcade looking west through a squint