Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Gazeley, Suffolk

All Saints is another huge Suffolk church presumably built on the back of the wool trade. The earliest parts of the building date from the early years of the 14th century (the Decorated period of English architecture). This was probably a rebuilding of an earlier church that existed on the same site. The building was further improved and beautified during the second half of the 15th century, (the Perpendicular period), when the windows of the aisles and clerestory were inserted and the porch was added. Sympathetic repairs and restorations took place during the 19th century, in 1857, 1884 (when the tower was rebuilt), and in 1888, (when the nave roof and the aisle windows were repaired and the church was re-seated).

In the south aisle are five poppyhead medieval benches and one with a straight top. Two of the former have beautifully pierced and traceried backs, one with some lettering, part of which is missing. The interpretation of this lettering has so far baffled the experts, although Pevsner thinks that it may read ‘Salamon Sayet'.

Whilst All Saints retains some fine features, including a very good sedilla and piscina, a chalice brass and a 14th century font, it has a very 'stripped' down feel to it and I suspect Dowsing has been at work here. For all that it is still magnificent.

ALL SAINTS. Mostly of the later C13. The chancel is an interesting and individual work. The E window has three lights, the outer ones a little taller than the middle one. On them stands not a circle but a spherical triangle with a sexfoil set in, three foils being pointed and large, the other three round and small. The whole window is not simply arched, but the outer arches of the outer lights form part of its outline, which is then continued by the sides of the spherical triangle, forming a normal arch-head. Inside, the arch has a normal rere-arch, but there are in addition tall arched panels in the iambs. The side windows have quatrefoils on pointed-trefoiled lights. Piscina with oddly double-cusped arch on shafts. The adjoining Sedilia are two stepped seats in the window-sill, separated by a simple arm with a (defaced) lion couchant. On the N side of the chancel a gabled niche. The westernmost chancel windows are transomed ‘low-side’ windows. The arcade of four bays is also late C13. Quatrefoil piers and boldly moulded capitals. The chancel roof is a canted wagon roof and has small cusped panels and many carved bosses. The W tower was rebuilt in 1884, but its Perp W doorway seems in order. Perp also the aisles and clerestory. - FONT. Octagonal, of c. 1300 (?). The sides have plainly represented tracery motifs, all usual about 1300 (e.g. three stepped lancets under one arch, three-light intersected, three lancets of the same size, Y-tracery in a round arch, and pointed quatrefoils). - PULPIT. Perp, with simple arched panels. - SCREEN. Much restored; with one-light divisions. - BENCH ENDS. Both with poppy-heads and with straight tops with simple tracery and buttresses. Some backs have tracery and one the name ‘Salamon Sayet’ instead. Much of the bench ends seems re-used panels from the screen. - PAINTING. Presentation in the Temple. By Jacques Stella. From the chapel of Trinity Hall Cambridge, to which it was given in 1729 by the son of Dean Chetwode, who had brought it over about 1700. - PLATE. Elizabethan Cup; Patens 1673 (1662?) and 1696. - MONUMENT. Tomb recess in the S aisle. Tomb-chest with small lozenge-panels. The arch above the recess is nearly a lintel. Top with cresting. The brasses inside are lost.

Al Saints (2)

Sedilla (1)

Brass chalice


GAZELEY. It is set in a green countryside, with fine trees enhancing the dignity of its 14th century church, clerestoried and aisled 500 years ago. A nail-studded door in the vestry, a canopied tomb, and a graceful panelled font are all 500 years old. The screen and pulpit have fragments of tracery, and under the stone seats in the chancel a strange beast has crouched through many centuries. The ancient roof of the nave is borne up by stone angels, good companions for the exquisite little blue and golden angels in the ancient glass of the clerestory windows. 

Flickr set.

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