Building record COL 094 - The Silence Chamber, All Saints Church

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14th century silence chamber


Grid reference Centred TL 9015 3909 (4m by 6m)
Map sheet TL93NW


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

All Saints Church is a Grade I listed flint-rubble building said to date from the 14th and 15th centuries, although the coursed flintwork and quoins of Roman tile in the nave suggest an earlier origin. A slender 14th century tower arch flanked by blind arches is arguably the church’s finest feature. The benches and other furniture of stained pine was inserted in 1848 as part of an extensive restoration by the well known Mock Gothic architect Richard Cromwell Carpenter, who drew up his plans for Lancing College in the same year and built a new Rectory for the Revd. Edwin Sidney in 1847. The belfry contains five bells in what appears to be an 18th century bell frame incorporating earlier components, but they are reputed not to have been rung since circa 1800. This is likely to relate to the structural condition of the tower, as a new tie-beam was inserted around this date to counter a major outward movement of the northern wall and the eastern wall is cracked at its junction with the nave roof. The tie-beam spans the silence chamber between the belfry and the base of the tower from which the bells were rung. This chamber served to muffle the bells from within the church and has remained largely unaltered since the 14th century. It now contains a 19th century wooden ladder along with the aforementioned inserted tie-beam, and preserves the medieval oak joists of its original floor and ceiling. The floor contained a central trap of 4 feet square for raising and lowering the bells which is mirrored in the ceiling, along with a smaller chamfered trap in its south-western corner for the original access ladder. The present ladder trap door lies alongside. All four of the principal joists survive intact, along with the two trimmers of the bell trap, but a number of softwood joists have been inserted to carry a lath-and-plaster ceiling which probably dates from Carpenter’s restoration. The medieval joists offer important evidence of the tower’s 14th century layout, which differed very little from that of today (S1).

Sources/Archives (1)

  • --- Unpublished document: Alston, L.. 2016. Historic Building Record: The Silence Chamber, All Saints' Church, Little Cornard.

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Record last edited

Sep 13 2019 11:22AM

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