The Outside

Beasts of the four evangelists

The central tower was built in the fifteenth century, and the parapet is decorated with the beasts of the four evangelists. St Luke’s ox, looking east, has lost its horns, ‘and at one time was thought to be the dog of the famous swineherd of Stow who gave his savings to St Hugh for rebuilding the cathedral. St Hugh had a palace at Stow Park, and it was there that he had his tame swan, depicted in the Victorian south window of the chancel.

Stow AT web pics09

From the south the corner of the Saxon tower can be seen, projecting a little in the angle between the transept and the chancel. This is typical of the way Anglo-Saxon cruciform churches were planned: four arms abutting a larger central square. It is also possible to see the changeover from Aelfnoth’s work to that of Eadnoth II. The lower part is decorated with a shallow pilaster strip up to the six courses from the top, and in the transepts themselves the stone differs slightly in colour, the earlier work being darker than the later, while at the corners the early work is much more weathered and decayed than the later, which was put up only some forty years after.

The south wall of the south transept has windows of three different dates. The earliest is the narrow slit, built by Bishop Eadnoth 11, and topped with a hooded mould which is decorated with a fairly unusual ornament, called palmette, which serves to date it and the great arch inside, which has the same ornament.

The round window is late Norman, probably contemporary with the chancel, while the two-light Gothic window, with three others like it, dates from the thirteenth century.

In the west wall of the transept is a small Norman window with two dragon’s heads on the hood-mould.

The late Norman buttresses on the nave can be compared with those on the chancel of the same date. The doorways are very rich, similar to those installed by Bishop Alexander in the west front of Lincoln Cathedral. The nave windows are very early Norman in date, but Saxon in character with their great upright stones. The arches of the windows were rebuilt in the eighteenth century.

By the west door is a little fifteenth century niche in front of which was an iron grill. On the north side can be seen the Victorian vestry (extended in 1983) and the ancient stair turret which was removed from inside the nave and rebuilt here. Its round windows may well be Anglo-Saxon.

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