An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire, Volume 1, South. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1912.
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8. BIERTON with BROUGHTON.
a(1). Parish Church of St. James, in the middle of the village, on the S. side of the road, is built of limestone rubble, covered with rough-cast. The roofs are of lead, except that of the chancel, which is covered with slate. The church is of cruciform plan, and was built early in the 14th century. The Chancel and Central Tower, which are the earliest parts, are deflected slightly towards the N. from the axis of the nave, possibly indicating the existence of a former building, of which no trace remains in the fabric, but there is a 12th-century font. The Nave and North and South Aisles appear to have been completed before the Transepts. Late in the 15th or early in the 16th century flat roofs took the place of the former high-pitched roofs; the N. and S. walls of the aisles were heightened, and clearstorey windows were inserted in them; other windows were altered in the 15th and 17th centuries. The 15th-century embattled parapets of the transepts, of an earlier date than the clearstorey windows, have been destroyed, except a part that has been enclosed at the E. end of the N. aisle. The plan remains entirely unaltered, except by the addition of a modern North Porch. The whole building was restored in 1853, many of the windows were repaired externally with cement, and the roofs of the chancel and transepts renewed.
The church is a good example of 14th-century architecture, and the carved doorways in the S. transept are especially worthy of note. The paten is a rare and valuable survival of 14th-century church plate.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (30 ft. by 17½ ft.) has a 15th-century E. window, restored externally, of four cinque-foiled lights and tracery under a four-centred head; the pointed segmental rear arch is chamfered; surrounding the present window inside is the outline of a larger 14th-century window with an inner edge-roll which has moulded bases and capitals, now much defaced; below it is a 14th-century moulded string-course, and on each side a niche (see Fittings). In the N. wall is an early 14th-century window of two trefoiled ogee lights and tracery under a two-centred head and a moulded internal label with headstops; the external jambs, head and label are moulded, and restored; in the S. wall is a similar window, with a modern internal ledge and restored external stonework. The Central Tower (13½ ft. square) is of two stages above the roof of the nave, with a plain modern parapet and small spire; the 14th-century corbel table has grotesque heads, and a gargoyle on the S. side. On each face of the lower stage are the weather-courses of the former roofs; those of the chancel and S. transept were little higher than the present roofs; those of the nave and N. transept were steep-pitched; below the outline of the original roof on the W. wall is a round-headed doorway, opening on to the present roof. The four tower arches, all of the 14th century, are two-centred and of three moulded orders; the jambs have clustered shafts, moulded bases and bell-capitals; the W. arch has a moulded label in the nave. In the S. wall is a small trefoiled single light of the 14th century, much repaired with cement. The bell-chamber has, in the E., S. and W. walls wide lancet windows, repaired with cement; the N. window is blocked and covered by the modern clock, and is also repaired with cement. The North Transept (17 ft. by 16½ ft.) has, in the N. wall, a 15th-century window of three cinque-foiled pointed lights with pierced spandrels in a pointed segmental head; the rear arch is chamfered. In the W. wall the 14th-century arch, opening into the N. aisle, is two-centred and of two chamfered orders; the small halfoctagonal shafts have moulded bases and bell-capitals. The South Transept (17 ft. square) has, at the N. end of the E. wall, a 14th-century doorway opening into the stair-turret of the tower, with a moulded trefoiled ogee arch and a moulded label with head-stops and elaborately carved crockets; the finial is of modern cement, and some of the crockets are broken; the S. wall of the tower has been partly cut away for the label. In the S. wall, in the middle, is a window of three cinque-foiled pointed lights; the moulded jambs are of the 14th century, the tracery and pointed segmental head are chamfered, and of the 15th century, all much repaired externally with cement; the label has been cut away; the S. doorway, at the E. end of the wall, is modern externally, and has a wood frame internally; it is an adaptation of a 14th-century piscina or sedile, with the jambs carried down to the floor; the cinque-foiled ogee head has a label with carved crockets and finial; on each side are square pilasters with shallow trefoiled panels and plain caps; the inner half of the soffit of the arch is vaulted, and has a central boss carved as a rose; the string-course of the S. wall is carried round the necking of the finial, which has been broken. In the W. wall the arch opening into the aisle is similar to that in the N. transept. The Nave (52½ ft. by 17½ ft.) has 14th-century N. and S. arcades of four bays; the piers are square, with four half-round attached shafts and moulded angles; the bases and bell-capitals are moulded; the two-centred arches are of two orders, more elaborately moulded than the tower arches, and have moulded labels in the nave, with grotesque head-stops at the E. end; at the apex of the westernmost arch of each arcade is a boss carved as a grotesque head; some of the bases have been cut back for seats, etc. The 14th-century W. doorway, much repaired externally with cement, has elaborately moulded jambs and two-centred arch, with a moulded external label, and pointed segmental rear arch; over the doorway outside is a 14th-century moulded string-course; the W. window was inserted in the 15th century, and is of four cinque-foiled lights with tracery under a four-centred head. The North Aisle (7 ft. wide) has, in the E. wall, high up, part of the 15th-century string-course and embattled parapet of the N. transept, enclosed when the aisles were heightened. In the N. wall are two early 14th-century windows, each originally of three trefoiled ogee lights and tracery under a two-centred head with external and internal labels; the western window is intact; the eastern window retains traces of the original tracery only in the head of the central light; mullions and transoms were inserted in the 16th or 17th century; the inner edges of the jambs are moulded: the 14th-century N. doorway has moulded jambs and two-centred arch, with a moulded external label, and a chamfered segmental rear arch: the three W. windows of the clearstorey are each of two cinque-foiled pointed lights under a square head, of late 15th or early 16th-century date. The South Aisle (7 ft. wide) has, in the S. wall, two early 14th-century windows, each of two lights, similar to the N. and S. windows of the chancel; the jambs have plain edges, and the external label of the western window is missing; the eastern window no longer retains the tracery, and has modern mullions and transoms: the S. doorway is blocked, but the outline is visible outside, with traces of moulded jambs and two-centred arch, without a label: the three windows of the clearstorey are each of two four-centred lights under a square head, with widely splayed internal jambs; they are probably of a slightly later date than the clearstorey windows in the N. aisle. The low-pitched Roof of the nave is of four bays, and has moulded tie-beams with curved braces forming arches, moulded purlins, ridge and principal rafters; the two eastern bays, better finished and of slightly higher pitch than the others, are probably of the 15th century; the western bays are probably of the 16th or 17th century; the middle truss has plain wood corbels, and the fourth truss has a wood corbel on the S. side. The S. aisle has a flat lean-to roof, of late 15th or early 16th-century date, and of four double bays with moulded beams and curved braces; some of the timbers are missing at each end. The N. aisle retains only the easternmost half-bay of a similar roof, the rest is modern. Traces of the former steeppitched roofs remain in the E. wall of each aisle.
Fittings—Bells: six, modern, and sanctus by Richard Chandler, 1678. Brackets: for images, in S. transept, under modern niche, moulded, with two roughly carved heads in mail coifs, early 14th-century; on S. wall of S. aisle, E. of S. doorway, plain, moulded, 15th-century. Brasses and Indents. Indents: In N. aisle—near doorway, apparently of a man and two women, 15th or 16th-century, much worn. Chairs: in the chancel, two, the first (see Plate, p. 300), with elaborately carved back, large panel, arabesque border, Tudor roses, arms curved, c. 1600; the second, plainer design, same date. Communion Table: in S. transept, disused, with turned baluster legs, fluted rail at the top, early 17th-century. Doors: in N. doorway, and to turret staircase, both plain, with plain strap-hinges, N. door with stock lock, both possibly mediæval. Easter Sepulchre: see Niches. Font: circular bowl, tub-shaped, with cable mouldings, late 12th-century. Images: in N. wall of nave, above arcade, block of stone carved with two female figures, much defaced, possibly the Virgin and St. Anne, early 14th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In chancel—on S. wall, (1) of Samuell Bosse, of 'Byrton', 1616, erected by Cæcily, his wife, 1626, kneeling figures of a man and woman, four sons, three daughters, six infants in cradles, inscription and three shields with arms, of redveined alabaster and slate, painted. Floor-slab: in N. transept—incised, to Jane Gurney, 16—(?) another, 18th-century. Niche: in chancel, on each side of the E. window, with chamfered cinque-foiled head, 14th-century: in N. wall of chancel, with chamfered trefoiled head, possibly for Easter Sepulchre, 14th-century. Paintings: on S. wall of S. aisle, man's head, indented border, and other traces, late 16th-century. Piscina: in chancel, with shafted jambs, pointed head, moulded label and cinquefoil bowl, 14th-century. Plate: includes paten bearing the vernicle in a sunk quatrefoil, 14th-century. Tiles: on floor, in N. transept, tower, nave and aisles, considerable number, 14th-century, much worn.
a(4). The Red Lion Inn, opposite the church, is of two storeys, built of brick and timber probably about the middle of the 17th century; the roof is tiled. In the bar parlour is a wide, open fireplace.
a(5). House, about 100 yards N. of the church, is of two storeys, built of brick and timber probably early in the 17th century, considerably restored and enlarged in the 19th century. The roof is tiled. The central chimney stack is original.
a(8). House, 300 yards N.E. of the church, is of two storeys, built early in the 17th century, of closely-set timbers with brick filling, partly re-faced with modern brick. The plan was originally rectangular, but a modern wing has been added, making the plan L-shaped. The roof is thatched. One chimney stack is of old thin bricks, partly restored. Inside the house there is a large open fireplace and a chamfered ceiling-beam with moulded stops.
a(9). Cottage, nearly ½ mile N.E. of the church, is of two storeys, the upper storey partly in the roof, built in the 17th century; the walls are of brick, and a little timber-framing shows in the gables at the ends of the building. The roof is tiled.
b(10). Corner Farm, nearly ¾ mile N.E. of the church, is a 17th-century building of two storeys. It is of the central chimney type, with gabled ends; the walls are of brick, and the gables are timber-framed. The roof is tiled.
a(12). Cottage, now two tenements, S.W. of (11), is of two storeys, built of brick and timber in the 17th century, partly re-faced with brick in the 18th century. The roof is tiled. Inside the cottage is a wide, open fireplace and a panelled door of early 17th-century date, probably brought from elsewhere.
a(14). Cottage, at the cross-roads, 3/8 mile N.E. of the church, is of two storeys, the upper storey partly in the roof. It was built of brick and timber late in the 17th century; the S.W. front has been re-faced with modern brick. The S.E. end has a projecting gable. The roof is tiled.
a(15). House, about ¼ mile N.E. of the church, is of two storeys, built of brick probably early in the 17th century. The roof is tiled. At one end is a modern addition, making the plan L-shaped. The central chimney stack is original.
a(16). Cottage, now two tenements, about 250 yards N.E. of the church, is of two storeys, built in the 17th century of brick and timber, partly re-faced with modern brick, and with a modern addition at the E. end. The roof is thatched. One room has an open fireplace with the original chimney-corner seat, and in the ceiling is a chamfered beam.
a(17). Cottage, now four tenements, at the N.E. corner of the churchyard, is of two storeys, built of timber and brick in the 17th century, but partly re-fronted with modern brick. The roof is tiled. In front are two gabled dormer windows. The two chimney stacks are of old thin bricks. Some of the rooms have chamfered ceiling-beams and large, open fireplaces.
a(18). House, behind (17), is an early 17th-century building of two storeys. The walls are timber-framed with brick filling, partly refaced with 18th-century brick; the roof is tiled. The plan is L-shaped, and there is an old chimney stack. A large open fireplace remains, now partly blocked, and one ceiling has a chamfered beam.
a(19). Cottage, behind the school, S. of the church, is of one storey and an attic. It was built of brick and timber about the middle of the 17th century, and has been partly re-faced with brick; the roof is thatched. The chimney stack is of old thin bricks.
a(20). Cottage, now three tenements, opposite the Methodist Chapel, is an early 17th-century building of two storeys. The walls are timber-framed, with brick filling, partly set in herring-bone pattern; the front has been re-faced with modern brick. The roof is thatched. The central chimney stack is of old thin bricks. On the ground floor the ceilings have chamfered beams with brackets, and there is a wide open fireplace.
b(21). Cottage, on the W. side of the road to Leighton, nearly ¾ mile N.E. of the church, is of two storeys, the upper storey partly in the roof, built late in the 17th century. The walls are of brick, the gables at the ends are timber-framed. Some of the windows have old iron casements, and there is a fragment of 17th-century panelling in one of the doors.
a(22). Farmhouse, about 700 yards E. of the church, is of two storeys, the upper storey partly in the roof, built of brick late in the 17th century; the roof is tiled. The central chimney stack is of old thin bricks, and under it is a wide, open fireplace.
b(23). Cottage, opposite the farmhouse, is of two storeys, the upper storey partly in the roof. The walls are timber-framed with brick filling; the roof is thatched. It was built early in the 17th century, and in one room a large moulded beam, with broach stops, bears the date 1613.
b(24). The Seven Stars Inn, at Broughton, about a mile S.E. of the church, is of two storeys, the upper storey partly in the roof. It was built of brick and timber probably in the middle of the 17th century, and has been partly re-faced with modern brick. The roof is thatched. One chimney stack is of old thin bricks. On the ground floor is a large open fireplace and one ceiling has a stop-chamfered beam.