Monday, 22 November 2010

Higham, Suffolk

The Domesday Book mentions a church in Higham. Parts of the nave indicate remains of a church of the Saxon or early Norman period (evidenced by chunks of ironstone and layered masonry in the south nave wall and the quoins in the north-east corner). In the late 1100s the church passed into the care of the Priory of the Holy Trinity at Ipswich and the tower was added. Note the Early English tower arch and doorway to the belfry. The wooden door here is of great age. The west window of the tower is from the 1300s.

At the west end in front of the vestry screen stands the present octagonal font; its stem is panelled as is the bowl. In the top of the bowl on the north-west and south-east sides staples were once fitted so the cover could be locked to prevent baptism water being stolen for magical purposes.

The oak benches of 1887 fit in so well because these were carefully copied from the fragments of their medieval predecessors. Four 15th century carved poppyheads have in fact been re-used in the ends of two benches on the north side.  In the south wall of the nave, near the pulpit, is a piscina which shows there was an altar nearby in medieval times. On the nave side of the arches separating the nave from the north aisle are carved heads, two men and two women. If the light is good, see the carved wooden figures higher up, three on each side of the nave roof.

The chancel at the east end of the church is probably as old as the nave but much restored. In 1662 the Archdeacon reported that it was ruinous. The chancel arch is a masterpiece of 19th century timberwork, delicately carved with flowers and foliage. Beneath fine canopies of each side are the figures of St. Peter (north) and St. Paul (south). The high altar piscina remains, beneath a 15 century arch with little flowers in its moulding, in the south wall of the sanctuary (beyond the rails

In the south-west window sill are ten medieval tiles once in the floors of the church. Some are very worn but bear traces of their design, including leaf-trails and the arms of the Beauchamp and Ufford families. On the south wall, above the piscina, is a memorial to Alice Dokenfielde, who died in 1622 aged 15 years.

The north aisle was added about 1410-1440AD which is the date given to the north arcade. At the top of the pillars the capitals are carved with vines and floral decorations. The work is attributed to Hawes, a mason from Occold, who worked on the chancel arches at Otley, Debenham and Bildestone. Note the carved heads on the corbels on the north wall, the one over the door being gagged!

The chancel contains the oldest memorial in the church, thought to be of John Mannock of Giffords Hall, who died in 1476. The brass inscription plates have been removed, probably by the notorious iconoclast, William Dowsing during the English Civil War. According to his Journal the church at Higham was visited on 2 February, 1644 when "We brake down 15 superstitious pictures in the chancel; and 16 in the church (so called)...".

ST MARY. Much restored. Simple heavy W tower with small upper windows indicating a C13 date. The tower arch double-chamfered and dying into the imposts may well be c. 1300. Otherwise Early Perp and not of great interest. Arcade to the N aisle of four bays. The piers quatrefoil with the foils filleted and the fillets not set off from the foils but running into them in an ogee curve. In the re-entrant angles thin octagonal shafts. The abaci alternatingly with leaf bands and single fleurons. Many-moulded arches, hood-moulds on heads. - FONT. Perp, octagonal, damaged, and disused. - MONUMENT. Robert Hay d. 1811. By Regnart. Woman kneeling by an urn.

Poppyhead (2)

Poppyhead (8)

Alice Dokenfielde 1622 

HIGHAM. Delightfully situated near the meeting of the Bret and the Stour, it is a trim setting for many pleasant houses, one of them a Tudor masterpiece, still with its beautifully carved beams.

The embattled tower of the church has been a landmark for 600 years. The old carved capitals of the nave are charming with vine leaves and Tudor roses, and there is a fine aisle roof with a rose cornice on which are delightful praying angels; its corbels have heads of bearded men, and among them is a woman with a scarf over her mouth. The roofs are of our own time, but there are five quaint men and women on the old brackets supporting the beams in the nave. Two canopied wood figures of saints are by the chancel  arch, and there is much fine carving on the pews and stalls, which, with a lion, an eagle, a griffin, a winged man, a winged bull, and a winged lion, are clearly the creation of men possessed of the spirit of the flying age. The east window, a memorial to two boys of last century, has a richly coloured Ascension, and the peace memorial window has two heroes: a golden-robed St George slaying a purple dragon, and Lionheart in chain armour, his sword drawn and his shield ablaze with lions. We noted that Abraham Reeve was vicar for 54 years of last century.

Flickr set.

No comments:

Post a Comment