Monday, 5 September 2011

Ousden, Suffolk

St Peter is quite unlike any other church I've seen; externally the church is very humble when compared with the many large and stately churches which grace the county of Suffolk, yet it is of huge interest, because it is a Norman tripartite church (nave, central tower and chancel) which has survived in its original plan, which subsequent alterations and enlargements have added to, but not destroyed. Furthermore, the Norman central tower remains almost unaltered, apart from its later parapet.

It seems that the building grew during the 1100s and the tower, the core of most of the nave and the foundations of the chancel remain from this time. The belfry windows, the tiny windows in the north wall of the tower and the south wall of the nave, the tower arches and the south doorway, are all Norman work. The north nave doorway was built at the very end of the 1100s, when the Norman style was evolving into the Early English style, and shows the transition between the two. About 1300 the south-east nave window was added; it doubtless replaced a tiny Norman window and thus gave more light, as did the window nearby in the base of the tower, which is in the Decorated style of the early 1300s.

After the Reformation  it seems that the old Norman chancel fell into decay. This was not uncommon because, although the wealthier families sometimes had their pews in the chancel of the church during the 17th and 18th centuries, this part of the church was only used for Communion, which occurred four times per year at the most. It is not surprising therefore that, because of the unusual plan of the church, the chancel may have been abandoned completely. A new brick chancel was erected during the 18th century upon the original foundations and at about the same time the brick chapel was added to the north side of the nave to contain the pews and memorials of the Moseleys of Ousden Hall.

ST PETER. Norman nave. S doorway without shafts. The lintel chip-carved with stars. In the tympanum big lozenges. One S window. The N doorway curious. The l. shaft with a Norman capital, the r. shaft with a moulded C13 capital. Pointed arch with a recurrent ornament in the roll moulding which is like a collar of turned wood. Norman also the central part, provided with a tower. It has arches inside to the W and E with simple shafts and on the capitals scrolls close to the core. To the r. of the E arch of the nave a C13 niche. The chancel itself and the N chapel are C19 brick and Gothic. — FONT. Octagonal, Perp. - COMMUNION RAIL. Later C17; with turned balusters. - PLATE. Cup 1678 or 1736; Paten 1710; Flagon c. 1730; Almsdish c. 1750. - MONUMENT. Laeticia Mosley d, 1619. With, at the foot, a gruesome three-quarter skeleton in a shroud.

St Peter (2)

Leticia Moseley 1619 (1)

Leticia Moseley 1619 (5)

I don't think Mee personally visited since I think he would far more fulsome if he had:

OUSDEN. Its hall stands in classic dignity above a meadow by the roadside, and in its shadow is the church, built by the Normans. A doorway built when the Norman style was changing to English leads into the nave. On the opposite side is a blocked Norman doorway with diamond pattern on its tympanum. The round arches of the central tower are impressive, their grey flintwork contrasting finely with the mellow stone, their pillars with delicate capitals. The lofty font has been supported on nine columns for 500 years.


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