Day 10 – The whole chancel apse is revealed

18 Jul chancel from east

This is the view we have been waiting for.  With the overlying path removed, we can now see the full extent of the chancel with its apsidal (curved) eastern end.

18 Jul chancel from east 2

The walls are not preserved to a great height, so we are very fortunate that they survive at all.  We haven’t got down to the base of the walls yet, but a little further down the slope by the Priest’s Door, the chalk bedrock is very close to the surface.

18 Jul priests door

So outside the church, there may not be much more we can do.  However, Canon Jenkins reported concrete, that he thought was Roman, (although it may not be) underneath the chancel of the present church and by the buttress, so there may be some interesting masonry remains there.  The path substructure should be removed in this area tomorrow, leaving it free for hand-digging over the coming weeks.

18 Jul chancel from south

Inside the church, there is still quite a lot to investigate by hand.  In the picture above, you can see fragments of the wall that divided the chancel from the nave.  If it is like other churches of this period such as the church of St Pancras at St Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury, or Reculver in North Kent, this would have been a low wall with columns upon it supporting arches that separated the holy space of the chancel from the rest of the church.

The nave wall continues under the porch and appears to be well-preserved there.

18 Jul under porch looking west

On the west side of the porch, the nave wall is much more fragmentary.  We are currently no closer to understanding the enigmatic niche in the wall of the present church.  However, we now think that what Canon Jenkins thought was the north wall of the Anglo-Saxon church underlying the present church is in fact just part of the plinth upon which the present church was built.  It is quite normal for the foundation layers to project out and for the main wall to be inset in this way.  Why the plinth has been cut back by the niche is unclear at the moment.

18 Jul niche

We think the west end of the nave is just east of the tower of the present church.  The fragment of wall at the bottom right of this picture has a different colour mortar from that in the Anglo-Saxon church and appears therefore to relate to a different structure.

18 Jul west end

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