Saturday, 22 October 2011

Boxted, Suffolk

The unprepossessing exterior of Holy Trinity contains an astonishing interior with an array of monuments and ledger slabs to the Poley family. Both the nave and chancel are light and airy and contain roof angels, hatchments, wooden corbels, box pews and the north aisle has a gallery.

It is hidden behind a screen of trees but from the car park, and churchyard, you get the reverse view across the valley to Glemsford, with the big house nestled at the bottom of the hill - it is a glorious view.

A palimpsest brass to Richard Poley (1468-1547) and his wife Ann, on the north side of the chance}, is the oldest surviving Poley monument. There are also many floorstones and seven hatchments (1756-1849) to the Poley and Weller-Poley family.

On the south side of the chancel is the tomb chest, with what I thought were stone but are actually oak, effigies of William Poley (d. 1587) and Alice his wife (d. 1577). He is dressed in armour, with his head on a helmet. She has a prayer book with the arms of Poley and Shae, and rests on a pillow inscribed "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord", A.D. 1579. The figures were restored and the black paint removed from the stonework in 1992.

HOLY TRINITY. The church lies in the grounds of the house, an ancient timber-framed mansion made to look too new. The church is above the house and separated from it by a wide expanse of grass. Flint and stone. Low arcade with octagonal piers and double-chamfered arches. Interesting hammerbeam roof in the chancel, interesting because Jacobean. Attached to the N E an C18 brick chapel. In it the most interesting feature of the church, the Poley MONUMENTS. There are notably two, Sir John d. 1638 and Dame Abigal, the latter erected in 1725. Both have standing efligies in arched niches and crowning pediments with rounded centres. In all else they differ characteristically. Sir John’s monument must be of the ending C17 and is certainly the work of an outstanding sculptor. Mrs Esdaile has attributed it to Bushnell. Sir John stands with one hand on his hip, in a self-assured and a little mannered attitude. The costume is that of his day, not of that of the sculptor. To the l. and r. standing putti pulling away a big drapery which seems to hang from the top of the monument. The top of the niche has a shell pattern. All the decoration is rich and lively - garlands, foliage borders, etc. Dame Abigal’s monument is demonstratively less demonstrative. It is of alabaster (Mrs Esdaile says the last English monument in that material), and has only flanking pilasters; the head of the niche is undecorated. - An earlier Poley monument in the chancel: William d.1587 and his wife. Two recumbent effigies, a late example of oak carving for a funeral purpose. - PULPIT. Jacobean, with tester. - POLEY PEW. Jacobean parclose screen with balusters carrying arches and achievements on top. - COMMUNION RAIL. Three-sided, with twisted balusters. - STAINED GLASS. Some original glass in the E window of the Poley Chapel, e.g. the figure of a king. - PLATE. Almsdish ?1674; Cup, Paten, and Flagon 1708.

Holy Trinity (2)

 William Poley 1587 (1)

 South to Glemsford

BOXTED. For six centuries it has been the home of the Poley family, whose gracious house can be seen from the church, enshrined in a wooded valley, and with a Tudor bridge across its moat. The 15th century flint church has an elaborate panelled porch and splendid original roofs. Many old treasures are sheltered here: rails on three sides of the altar, a fragment of glass with a crowned head, a 15th century font, and a Jacobean pulpit with a canopy.

Two imposing monuments have wooden figures of William Poley and his wife, rare treasures, for there are not more than a hundred ancient wooden figures in the land. Here they are with their jewels. William, who built the hall and died the year before the Armada sailed, is in armour with his bare head on a helmet, and his wife has three necklaces. In richly carved niches stand figures of Sir John Poley who died in 1638, in armour with his gauntlets at his feet. His wife has golden ear-rings, and John is shown with a gold frog hanging from an ear, the symbol of a high Danish order bestowed on him.


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