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EARLY RECTORS ; THE NAVE.
or completely rebuilt, as was the case here. But that no fragment of any early sepulchral memorial has survived is indeed a matter of wonderment, for we know from other cases, such as Aycliff, Gainford, or Sockburn, how numerous such monuments must have been about such a church as Sedgefield. The poor and perishable nature of the local stone, and the value of any large pieces for building purposes to a large extent accounts for this, and we may feel sure that the monuments raised during the Anglo-Saxon period by the men of Sedgefield have gone into the foundations and walls of the later church where they still remain hidden. At any time such may be brought to light either by digging in the churchyard or making alterations to or repairs of the structure.
The list of the early rectors is lamentably incomplete, but amongst those giren by Surtees6 two are earlier than the date of the church. These are Ulchild, 1085, and Peter, .clericus de Seggefeld,' 1168. In reading the names of these ancient priests one cannot help wondering what the church was like with which they were familiar, and which has as completely disappeared as if it had never existed.
The present church is of various dates. In plan it comprises a nave of three bays with aisles, north and south transepts and chancel, all three aisleless, a disengaged western tower, and a south porch.
The earliest remaining work is the nave, and this has been so far left unaltered as to show that the church of which it is a part was begun about the middle, or shortly before the middle, of the thirteenth century, and that this church consisted of a short and wide nave with aisles, a disengaged western tower, and a chancel. The plan was an entirely new one and does not seem to have in the least regarded, or been hampered by, any previous building on the site; it is not improbable therefore that the new building was begun near the old one, which was cleared away on its completion, for the lines are all square and regular, and we miss these ugly though interesting twists and deflections and numerous angles with which the plans of old churches usually abound. The design was that of a master-band in the craft of architecture, and it is an interesting thing to be able once in a way to say without much fear of dispute that the name of the architect can be given, a rare thing it is to find that such a name has come
6 History and Antiquities of Durham, vol. iii. p. 32.
down to our own time in the case of a great cathedral or monastic church, but still more rare in the case of a village church.
In the middle of the thirteenth century the monks of Durham were, speaking architecturally, chiefly occupied with their grand scheme of adding the chapel of the Nine Altars to their church. The story of how this building came to be thought of, and whether such story be true or otherwise need not detain us now, it has often been told, and nowhere better than in a now well-known guide to the cathedral, but the architectural history of the scheme, so to speak, has not been dwelt upon, and as it has some bearing on the somewhat unusual plan of Sedgefield church it may be well to give it here.
There is only one other building in England that is anything like the Nine Altars at Durham, and that is the similar eastern termination, also called the Nine Altars, of the conventual church of the Cistercian abbey of St. Mary of Fountains. Of the two the latter is earlier in date as it is cruder in conception than the Durham building. As this part of Fountains abbey has a direct bearing on the Nine Altars at Durham, and an indirect bearing on the design of the earliest remaining parts of Sedgefield church, a few remarks upon its history must be brought in here.
The old choir of Fountains was extended in the first half of the thirteenth century under three abbots of the same name, John of York (1203-1211), John of Ely (1211-1220), and John of Kent (1220-1247). The scheme included the building of a choir with aisles, five bays in length, and an eastern transept across the east front of the church, with a range of nine altars against its long east wall. There is tolerably clear evidence that this scheme was not all matured at once, and that it was modified as it progressed, as indeed was likely in so great a work which was so long in hand. Mr. Reeve has shown that the conception of the Nine Altars was due to abbot John of Kent, or of his architect, who it can be shown with tolerable certainty was a south country man. The exact date of the completion of the Nine
? Durham Cathedral. An address by the Rev. Wm. Greenwell, M.A., F.R.S., F.S.A., Durham, 1881.
SÅ Monograph on the Abbey of St. Mary of Fountains, by J. Arthur Reere, Architect, 1892. A magnificent work, where all the architectural beauties of Fountains are shown, and the architectural history of the buildings is given with the learning and scrupulous care of a Willis and the instinctive insight of a Longstaffe.