Lancashire

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A crispGeorgian exterior hides a much older medieval interior

The church of Woodplumpton was originally an offshoot of St Michael's-on-Wyre. The earliest documentary record of the church is from 1552, but during restoration work in 1900 pieces of stone were uncovered that suggest a church may have been on this site in the C12. However, what greets the visitor today is a substantial rebuilding dating from c.1748, behind which is an extensive medieval structure.

The oldest remaining part of the medieval church is a window of two lights with pointed trefoils and a rounded trefoil above. This is on the wall of the north aisle. It dates from the early 1300s. Also on this wall is a doorway of c.1400. Ithasa pointed arch, chamfered jambs and small decorative symbols. A square headed two-light window of C15 can also be seen.

The exterior of the south aisle, though built in the mid-C18, looks earlier. This may have been by choice or because the latest fashions had not been absorbed in Lancashire. More likely it isthe influence ofthe designs in books like Batty Langley's "A Sure Guide to Builders" (1726). The south doorway is quite un-historical in style - round arch, large keystone, console brackets, no defined classical order.

The windows of the south aisle recall those of Poulton le Fylde, St Chad - round-headed, keystone, curved Y tracery, but here with plain capitals and bases, suggesting a classical arch. These features, along with a priest's door, barely suggested battlements, the low tower, and the clearly defined rooflines of the nave and two aisles, present a delightful view to the visitor approaching through the lych gate. The south facade is further decorated by a large (and still working) sundial engraved with the obligatory "sic transit gloria mundi".

The west tower/cupola is unexpectedly small - six feet square internally. It provides a visually satisfying, and quite unusual west end, as well as providing the place for the single bell. The latter dates from 1946. It replaces a bell dated 1596 that can be seen in the church. The tower has its own simple window (below).

The nave arcades are Perpendicular in style and extend the length of the church - there is no chancel arch. A wooden screen now separates nave from chancel. Windows in the roof ensure that the nave is quite well lit. Traces of wall painting can be seen on north aisle arches - red, white and black paint - including a chevron pattern.

The church has good Victorian and C20 stained glass. Some windows are by Shrigley & Hunt of Lancaster (detail below).

St Anne's from the west

The small, open,octagonal cupola holds the single bell.

The south door and windows

Approaching the church the visitor is unprepared for the older features inside.

View from the north aisle

The C15 arcades have low octagonal columns and simple capitals.

Windows - C18 and C14

The south aisle windowis from 1748. The north aisle window may date fromc.1300.

Stained glass (detail) and west tower window

The stained glass company of Shrigley & Hunt was founded in 1874.

Photographs and text Tony Boughen