Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Coddenham, Suffolk

St Mary is astonishing with a wealth of interest from the extraordinary hammerbeam nave roof to the richly engraved parclose screen but, like many Suffolk churches, has suffered at Dowsing's hand - this was probably once so much more.

I missed the alabaster altar piece which is a shame (it is now kept in the rood loft door) but loved the high church plaques and the curiously off-line north porch. I visited on my way home on a whim and was handsomely rewarded!

ST MARY. A Norman window in the chancel (N). Another chancel window with later C13 plate tracery. The chancel was much restored c. 1830. Good Dec nave W window. Dec also the S aisle, see the details of the arcade (different in mouldings from the N aisle arcade), the windows, the doorway, and the Piscina. The church has a NW tower, also Dec. Its battlements are decorated with flushwork arcading. The openings towards the church are continuous double and triple chamfers. Perp clerestory with flushwork arcading between the windows, rich stone decoration of parapet and battlements, and an Orate for John Frenche and his wife. Perp also the N porch, set at an angle to the aisle. Flushwork panelled front. Shields with the Symbols of the Trinity and the monogram of Jesus in the spandrels. Inscription above the entrance. The exciting fact inside is the double hammerbeam roof with two sets of angels. Good original N aisle roof too. - PULPIT. Jacobean. - STALLS. With two plain MISERICORDS. - (BENCH ENDS. Two, with poppy-heads and animals on the arms.) - PANELLING. Jacobean, in the aisles; good. - COMMUNION RAIL. Late C17, with twisted balusters. Partly instead of the rood screen, partly in the S aisle. - PAINTING. Christ shown to the Multitude. Large figures, by a Netherlandish follower of Caravaggio. - SCULPTURE. Alabaster panel of the Crucifixion (S aisle altar); C15. 1 PLATE. Set of 1790. - MONUMENTS. The Rev. Baltazar Gardeman d. 1739. Fine restrained piece with a pediment above and a cherub’s head below. - Philip Bacon d. 1666. Even more restrained. Only the long inscription, flanked by fluted composite columns and surmounted by a pediment.

2. Screen - 3 Kings

Plaque (2)

Nave roof (3)

CODDENHAM. Coming to see the treasures in its ancient church we are following in the footsteps of the wretched William Dowsing, the 17th century vandal who came to Suffolk’s churches, not because he loved them, but with his heart full of hate. It was his ambition to destroy every treasure and every piece of old glass in these churches, and only by being hidden underground did one of the most curious possessions of Coddenham escape him, the richly carved block of alabaster on the altar. It is a striking Crucifix, with three angels holding chalices to catch the blood from the wounds, and on the right of the cross is St John and the Roman soldier Longinus, bareheaded and holding a spear. Below are the three Marys, and on the other side are two soldiers wearing helmets and a third figure supposed to represent the Centurion. The Crucifixion may have belonged to a nunnery which stood 700 years ago on the farm land hereabouts.

The church has 13th century walls of flint and stone, a clerestory as old with ornate flint panelling outside, a 14th century tower, a Norman window, and a little turret for a sanctus bell. There are fragments of tiles from a Roman house which stood near by, and inside are pieces of a Roman vase. The nave has a fine hammerbeam roof with angels under canopies, and among other examples of old woodwork are the Jacobean pulpit and altar rails, two benches, a chest heavily bound with iron, and a small table made in Cromwell’s time. A rich east window shows the Kings and the Wise Men at Bethlehem, and another chancel window has a bit of glass older than the Reformation. The south chapel has a Georgian altar, and is panelled with Tudor pew-ends showing little scenes from the life of Christ, among them the Annunciation, the Nativity, the adoring Shepherds, Mary and her Child on an ass, and the Temptation in the Wilderness.

One of the tablets tells of Susan Wiseman, who played the organ for 54 years, and another of Robert Longe, who was vicar 55 years last century and gave the village its library. Also remembered here are two of the Bacon family in the 17th century. One is the famous Puritan statesman Nathaniel Bacon, who served on Cromwell’s Council of State and wrote a remarkable book about the development of the English Constitution. Here he sleeps, in the church he knew as a boy. The other member of the family is Captain Philip Bacon, who has a monument on the wall, a gallant sailor at a time when the prestige of our navy was low. His ship took part in the English victory over the Dutch off Lowestoft, and, going out again off the North Foreland in 1666, he was one of the first to die a hero’s death on that inglorious First of June.


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Stoke Ash, Suffolk

The exterior of All Saints promised much so I sought out the key and was disappointed - it's been thoroughly Victorianised and spoiled.

There is a Bedingfield family tree connection though which I need to follow up.

ALL SAINTS. In the chancel one and in the nave two very plain round-arched, slightly chamfered doorways, probably late C12. Dec W Tower, see the doorway and the bell-openings. Dec nave window with the motif of the four-petalled flower in the tracery. Simple early C16 brick porch. - PULPIT. Jacobean. - STAINED GLASS. A little in the tracery of the SE window. - PLATE. Paten 1628.

All saints (2)

STOKE ASH. It was probably an important Roman settlement, and fine Roman tiles found here are set in the wall of the tower over the doorway. Most of the church is 14th century work, but some parts of a Norman building are left in a small doorway and the stonework over the priest’s door. A medieval bell hangs in the embattled tower, and there is a tiny niche in the 15th century porch. The interior is plain with the original arcade and a timbered roof. The small pulpit is Jacobean, and the rood stairway is set in an unusual way in the side wall of the nave. A strange entry in the parish register reads:

Thomas Parr, aged 152, died 1635.
Widow Reade, aged 126, died 1635.

The double entry recalls the custom of entering in the church register (often the only means of record in a village) events not only of local but of wider interest. We know that Thomas Parr did not die here, and we know that he could not have been so old;
but the death of Widow Reade at a very great age (though we need hardly believe she was 126) would suggest the entry of the famous Thomas Parr who was buried in Westminster Abbey in the same year. Neither of the ages is authentic.


Thornham Magna, Suffolk

Arthur treats Thornham Magna and Parva as a single entry but they are decidedly distinct entities.

St Mary Magdalene, much like Boxted, is essentially a mausoleum to the Henniker family - which in many ways is no bad thing because it's a beautifully maintained church (albeit heavily Victoriansed) but for me it's lost its zest.

ST MARY. Dec W tower. The chancel also originally Dec, see the S doorway and the Angle Piscina. The rest Perp, especially the S porch. Front with flushwork panelling. Entrance with shields in the spandrels and niches l., r., and above. The latter has a little vault. - STAINED GLASS. A S window by Morris & Co., c. 1901-2; three large figures. Other windows mainly of c. 1850 (restoration of the church 1851). - PLATE. Cup c. 1630; Paten 1726; Flagon 1731; Almsdish 1807. - MONUMENT. Lord Henniker d. 1821 and wife. By J. Kendrick, one of his major works. Standing monument. Two large allegorical female figures by an urn on a high pedestal. On the urn the profiles of Lord and Lady Henniker.

St Mary Magdalene (2)

South porch

Burne Jones (2)

THORNHAM. It is the name of two villages, Great and Little, lying east and west of the finely wooded Thornham Park, home of Lord Henniker, set in 400 acres. About 25 acres of gardens surround the house, which has still in its walls part of the original Tudor, and many ancient treasures in its rooms. The embroidered linen covers and hangings are still in the room where Charles the Second slept. Part of the house was rebuilt in the style of a French chateau, and has a wonderful room of white and gold panelling illustrating La Fontaine’s Fables. There is a portrait of Richard Cromwell, and the pictures include works by Reynolds, Romney, and two painted by Landseer when he was staying here.

The 15th century church of Thornham Magna, with a churchyard like a garden, is in a corner of the park, shaded by magnificent trees. Small and narrow, a subdued light filtering through the stained windows, it has a fine embattled and pinnacled tower. One imposing marble monument is to Lord and Lady Henniker, who died late in the 19th century. Two graceful women’s figures support an urn on which are the faces of Lord and Lady Henniker. There is a modern brass memorial with a portrait of Major General Henniker of the Coldstream Guards, who served in Egypt and South Africa, and is buried here.

A window to the fourth Lord Henniker has the disciples and soldiers at the Tomb; another lovely window to Major Albert Henniker was given by friends he met in South Australia. He died young in the first year of this century, and his window is a noblr tribute. Of exquisite colouring and design, it has three glorious figures of saints and angels above with trumpets, a remarkable inscription saying:

Through such souls alone, God, stooping, shows sufficient of His light  for us in the dark to rise by.

Elms border the narrow pathway to the miniature church of Thornham Parva, which is the real treasurehouse of this countryside, with something Saxon still left in its walls and a rare medieval painting. The little church will seat about 50 people and is kept in spotless order. Its curious little tower has a thatched roof`, and there are two Norman doors, a tiny Saxon window, and an old mass dial. A narrow stairway leads to a bow-fronted gallery. The beautiful modern oak pulpit and benches were a gift by Lord Henniker in memory of two aunts. The font is 13th century. Faint traces are still seen here and there of old paintings on the walls: a king wearing a crown, and a fragment of St Catherine’s wheel.

But the greatest treasure here, one which would be a proud possession even for a cathedral, is a 600-year-old painting, wonderfully preserved. The centre panel has the Crucifixion scene with the Madonna and St John, while under canopies at the sides are figures of eight Saints: Dominic, Catherine, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, Edmund, Margaret, and Peter the Martyr. Known as the Thornham Parva Retable (a retable being a raised shelf or ledge behind an altar), it is recognised as one of the notable examples of 14th century work and has been up to London on exhibition.

Here we come upon two faithful servants of the Hennikers last century, and the inscription to them by the 4th Lord Henniker says, " Thine own friend and thy father’s friend forsake not "; and we found here a parish clerk in his 40th year of service whose father served the Hennikers for 70 years, probably a Suffolk record for long service.


Thornham Parva, Suffolk

Last Wednesday I did a Suffolk run which took in Coddenham, Stoke Ash, Thornham Magna and Thornham Parva all of which are well out of my prescribed radius - but I particularly wanted to visit Thornham Parva and the others fitted in with the run home.

St Mary is a small thatched church with a square thatched tower and, whilst lovely, the exterior does not prepare you for the wonders inside. I'm not sure which took my breath away more, the wonderful Retable or the extraordinary wall paintings - does it matter I ask myself?

Essentially a Norman church this is a special place and was, until today, my favourite Suffolk church and then I visited Boxford.

ST MARY. Nave and chancel and short unbuttressed W tower. All thatched. S and N doorways Norman, that on the N completely plain, that on the S with one order of shafts, scalloped capitals, and one roll moulding. One Norman S window. The circular W window high up is attributed by Cautley to the Saxon period, because of its splay.* The chancel seems Dec; the nave also has one Dec window. - FONT. Octagonal, Dec, with simple tracery patterns. - (PULPIT. C17. The tester under the tower. LG) - ALTAR BACK. Jacobean panelling. - SCREEN. With simple one-light divisions. Two cut-off ends of the rood-loft beam remain in the wall. - WALL PAINTINGS. On the N and S walls, hardly recognizable. - PAINTING. The Thornham Parva Retable, discovered in 1927, is famous enough. It must date from c. 1300, and seems to be the work of the royal workshops, especially close to the Sedilia in Westminster Abbey. Crucifixion and eight saints, four l. in one row, and four r. The two outer ones are Dominicans. It is unknown for what church the retable was made. The figures are slim and swaying. The drapery folds have deep troughs across the waist and then fall diagonally. The background is treated in fine gesso patterns. The spandrels have various flowers and leaves in relief, also painted. - PLATE. Cup probably Elizabethan; Paten c. 1675; Flagon 1715; Almsdish 1825.

* Cf. indeed the many Saxon circular windows in Norfolk.

St Mary (4)

Retable (1)

Wallpainting (9) St Edmund's head being re-attached

Lord and Lady Henniker. There is a modern brass memorial with a portrait of Major General Henniker of the Coldstream Guards, who served in Egypt and South Africa, and is buried here.

A window to the fourth Lord Henniker has the disciples and soldiers at the Tomb; another lovely window to Major Albert Henniker was given by friends he met in South Australia. He died young in the first year of this century, and his window is a noblr tribute. Of exquisite colouring and design, it has three glorious figures of saints and angels above with trumpets, a remarkable inscription saying:

Through such souls alone, God, stooping, shows sufficient of His light  for us in the dark to rise by.

Elms border the narrow pathway to the miniature church of Thornham Parva, which is the real treasurehouse of this countryside, with something Saxon still left in its walls and a rare medieval painting. The little church will seat about 50 people and is kept in spotless order. Its curious little tower has a thatched roof`, and there are two Norman doors, a tiny Saxon window, and an old mass dial. A narrow stairway leads to a bow-fronted gallery. The beautiful modern oak pulpit and benches were a gift by Lord Henniker in memory of two aunts. The font is 13th century. Faint traces are still seen here and there of old paintings on the walls: a king wearing a crown, and a fragment of St Catherine’s wheel.

But the greatest treasure here, one which would be a proud possession even for a cathedral, is a 600-year-old painting, wonderfully preserved. The centre panel has the Crucifixion scene with the Madonna and St John, while under canopies at the sides are figures of eight Saints: Dominic, Catherine, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, Edmund, Margaret, and Peter the Martyr. Known as the Thornham Parva Retable (a retable being a raised shelf or ledge behind an altar), it is recognised as one of the notable examples of 14th century work and has been up to London on exhibition.

Here we come upon two faithful servants of the Hennikers last century, and the inscription to them by the 4th Lord Henniker says, " Thine own friend and thy father’s friend forsake not "; and we found here a parish clerk in his 40th year of service whose father served the Hennikers for 70 years, probably a Suffolk record for long service.


Thursday, 23 February 2012

Theydon Garnon, Essex

I've always been intrigued by the church you see to the south, across the fields, at the M25/M11 junction as you head anti-clockwise around the M25 and so, having time on my hands and wanting a break from driving to and from Canterbury, decided to seek it out. Turning towards London I headed down the M11 forgetting that there is no south bound exit for Loughton and so had to go to the bottom of the M11 and head back north. Getting off at the north bound exit I followed my nose heading in a general north easterly direction and, after a few, actually several, wrong turns by some fluke (even if you knew where you were going this would be a hard church to track down) found All Saints.

Sadly it was locked but a keyholder is listed. Unfortunately I'd wasted so much time finding the place that I didn't have time to track down the keyholder and record the church so I only got exteriors. I must say that despite heavy restoration at some point in its past this is a rather nice church of brick and flint and the setting, if you turn your back on the M25 and tune out the dull roar of traffic, is rather special.

UPDATE: On my way back from Brentwood I went out of my way to revisit but upon calling the keyholder number got a very hostile reception from the man who answered who was very suspicious but eventually said I would have to speak to his wife and passed me over.  After explaining, again, why I wanted to view the interior she said that she could come down and unlock the church but that she'd have to wait with me and then lock up and then return home in a tone that said she really couldn't be arsed to go through all that palaver which would utterly ruin her day; so I said don't worry I'll go somewhere else and drove home.

This, to me, was a first. I've been treated with suspicion on several occasions when asking to borrow a church key but normally when the keyholder understands why I want to visit suspicion turns to enthusiasm and even delight that I'm interested in the contents and not intent on robbing them - I've never come across this sort of apathy before. Which leads to a new complaint regarding locked churches - what is the point of listing a keyholder who is too apathetic to open the church when asked? You might as well leave it locked, no keyholder listed.

I was so annoyed that I was going to mark All Saints as LNK but then decided that perhaps she was having a bad day or that something far more pressing than a stranger wanting to visit her parish church was going on in her life that day, so marked it LKL but I wont be re-visiting.

ALL SAINTS. The historical interest of the church lies in the fact that the brick W tower is dated by an inscription (S side) 1520 and the brick N aisle (E gable) 1644. In the tower blue bricks are used as well but apparently without system. W doorway and W window are in all probability of the C18. The original bell-openings have two lights, and there are battlements. The N aisle is also of red brick; the difference between Early Tudor and C17 bricks can be studied. The windows unfortunately are renewed. Of 1644 also is the aisle arcade inside. It is of five bays, entirely of timber, with octagonal piers and round arches. Of the other parts of the church the chancel seems to be C13, see one restored S lancet window. The E window is quite ambitious C15 work. As for the nave the prettiest feature, the two dormers, look Victorian now (restoration 1885), but appear in an illustration in the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1810. - PULPIT with large finely detailed tester, staircase with elegant twisted balusters, and attached Reader’s Desk, c. 1710. - COMMUNION RAIL. With twisted balusters, 1683-4. - PLATE. Cup of 1562, with bands of ornament; Paten C17; two Flagons of 1650; Plate and Paten on foot probably of 1701. - MONUMENTS. Brass to William Kirkeby, rector d. 1458, the figure c. 3 ft long, with engraved orphreys. - Recess in the chancel N wall, containing a tomb-chest with two cusped lozenges on the front. The arch is depressed, a straight horizontal on quadrant curves, and has a quatrefoil frieze above. Kneeling figure of brass of c. 1520 against the back wall. - Similar recess in the chancel S wall, without figures. - Ellen Branch d. 1567, small grey stone tablet with ogee arch. Inside the arch brass plate with kneeling figure. - Several monuments to members of the Archer family. The most spectacular is to William Eyre Archer d. 1739, a standing wall monument with a grey sarcophagus, and a grey obelisk. Two seated cherubs l. and r. of the sarcophagus. Against the obelisk hovers another cherub just above the portrait medallion of the deceased. Unsigned. 

All Saints (3)

All Saints (4)

THEYDON GARNON. A lonely place in a valley between Epping Forest and Theydon Mount, it has a church hidden in the trees, with only a farm and a cottage or two for company. The church has been here about 700 years, but its high brick tower was built by Sir John Crosby, alderman and grocer of London, and his wife in 1520. The door is as old as the tower itself. The nave is remarkable for having one of the very rare timber arcades in England, five bays in oak, the wooden columns having moulded capitals. It was set here in the reign of Charles Stuart and, with the 15th century roof of the nave, is a veritable triumph of the carpenter. An ironbound chest rests on claw-shaped feet in the vestry, a brass plate with his arms stating that it was given in 1668 by Sir John Archer, a judge. In his memory there is a wall monument on the chancel wall. Facing it on the other side of the lovely east window is an older monument over the grave of Anne, Lady Fitzwilliam, who died a year before Queen Elizabeth, bequeathing to the village the almshouses a few hundred
yards away.

Much more beautiful than these classical memorials are two canopied altar tombs in the sanctuary walls. Both are carved in grey marble. One has lost its brasses, but the other has brass portraits of a man in armour with his wife and their five children. There are two other brasses, one of Ellen Branch who died in 1567, and one of William Kirkeby, rector in 1458; he wears a beautiful cope.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Dunkirk, Kent

My route to the motorway took me through Dunkirk and I took the opportunity to visit Christ Church - unsuccessfully since the sign to the churchyard reads 'Formerly the Parish Church is now a private residence'. So I took some exteriors, CWGC headstones and headed home.

 Christ Church (3)

DUNKIRK. Here is the height which gave the pilgrims their first view of the city of their dreams. The world has changed about it, and the vision which thrilled Chaucer’s pilgrims is seen no more from Dunkirk. Its modern church is built of flints from Canterbury’s ancient walls, and its pulpit is a model of the towers of St Augustine’s College. There are two carved chairs in the chancel which were once in a cottage here.

A wonderful position has Dunkirk on the map. Nine of the best known towns of Kent are all 20 miles from here - Chatham, Deal, Dover, Folkestone, Hythe, Maidstone, Margate, Ramsgate and Sheerness.


Boughton under Blean, Kent

Sadly locked SS Peter & Paul contains an impressive collection of C18th headstones in its churchyard and is a lovely looking building with an unusual south aisle/chapel. It is set away from the village down and up a twisting, narrow lane and perches on top of a small hill with commanding views of the surrounding countryside. It's a shame it is kept locked with no keyholder listed since I really fell for it (and Mee makes it sound amazing) and don't get down to Kent that often.

SS Peter & Paul (1)

A bit of Kent

John Jenning 1733

BOUGHTON-UNDER-BLEAN. Just a street, but what a street! It lies between grassy banks, with trees and huge thatched barns and old cottages everywhere. The Tudor fronts are splendid. The black oast-houses come down into the street with a white windmill looking on. The church is far away among the fields; another windmill here is thought to be the broadest in Kent.

The Blean was a forest in Chaucer’s day, and is still richly timbered. The churchyard has a very fine yew, and from near it a group of ll oast-houses can be seen. Here, when we called, was the best example we have come upon of the strait and narrow way. It led out of the churchyard through a huge cornfield, a footpath straight as a
die, cut through the corn a few inches wide.

The 13th-century church, with a 15th-century tower, has two aisles and two chapels, and is a beautiful place. It has many carved stone faces and some fine monuments. Two 16th-century brasses are to John Best and his wife (1508) and to Cyriac and Florence Petit, with four daughters. On a wall is one of the smallest sculptures ever seen, with John Pettit, household servant to Queen Elizabeth, kneeling with his wife at a desk. They are eight inches high.

But it is for another piece of sculpture that every lover of English art comes here, a monument set up in the year Shakespeare died by a man whose name shines in English sculpture with something of Shakespeare’s lustre in English poetry, for it is the work of Epiphanius Evesham, our first known great sculptor, and is one of the two best examples we have of his work in Kent. Hythe and Mersham have tablets, and Lynsted has two other groups like these; they are the best of all, but these at Boughton are tmly wonderful.

They show Sir Thomas Hawkins and his wife on an altar tomb, stately alabaster figures. He is in armour, his helmet hanging above him. Below on the front of the tomb are two sculptured panels of seven sons and six daughters. The two panels are a veritable museum piece of sculpture, with an almost incredibly small figure of a baby in a cradle. One of the daughters has a handkerchief to her eyes as in the group at Lynsted. One of the sons holds a ball, and a small boy holds a skull. The faces are all lifelike, and the carving is of great delicacy.

Close by sleeps the John Hawkins who saved the family from ruin in Cromwell’s day, and on the floor of the chapel is a brass to Thomas’s remarkable father Thomas. He lived to be 101, and two pompous verses, engraved in brass in 1587, tell us that he was high and long and strong, excelling all that lived in his age. Another stone has another curious boast:

Marbles shall fade; George Farwell’s name shall not;
Such in the Book of Life by God are wrot.

It has kept his name alive since 1747, and we pass it on. Fitting that in this small place of great boasting a bell should say:

Although I am but light and small
I will be heard above you all.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Harbledown, Kent p2

Taking advantage of a drop off back of the eldest at Uni I tried to visit St Nicholas but, despite being surrounded by Almshouses and other houses, it's kept locked so it was exteriors only - to be fair all three Kent churches were off bounds, albeit one was decommissioned and is now a private residence, so it must be a Kentish policy much like parts of my environs.

St Nicholas is absolutely stunning - truly one of the more striking churches I've visited...very different from the East Anglian church architecture I'm familiar with.

This was a planned visit based on my earlier visit to St Michael & All Angels.

St Nicholas (2)

St Nicholas (4)

West door

Writtle, Essex

So having got excited by the news that Great Waltham was now regularly kept open I set off last Friday only to find it locked - grrr, more later I hope.

I did, however, have a plan B and visited nearby All Saints in Writtle which utterly blew me away. All Saints has suffered a series of disasters starting in 1800 when the tower collapsed and the west end of the Nave was demolished; then, in 1974, a fire broke out which severely damaged the chancel; and finally, in 1991 a similar fire broke out and was contained. What is remarkable here is that you have no idea of the damage done.

All Saints hosts some remarkable brasses and a legion of ledger slabs - many much worn almost beyond legibility - along with a remnant of a St George wall painting.

If you Google All Saints you'll find this: "On April 4, 1802, the tower fell, giving rise to the doggerel: “Chelmsford Church and Writtle steeple, Both fell down, but killed no people.”  It was rebuilt in a very tasteless style." I disagree and think it follows the grandesque Tudor style and is rather well done for a Victorian re-build.

I had a mixed welcome from the people here, some seemed pleased to have a visitor whilst others made me feel I was intruding but I would recommend a visit - the church is stunning.

ALL SAINTS. Big and not very high W tower rebuilt in 1802. Brick battlements and stone pinnacles. Nave and two aisles, all embattled. The nave arcades and the clerestory 1879, with the exception of two original piers, both circular. These belong to the C13. The nave roof of low pitch rests on wooden demi-figures of angels. The exterior walls of the aisles have some Dec windows, indicating their age. The chancel chapels are later C14. - CHANCEL STALLS with C15 poppy-heads and fronts with open-work foliage scrolls of the early C18.- BENCHES (N chapel) with poppy-heads, one with a bird, one with a seated dog. - STAINED GLASS, S aisle chapel by Clayton & Bell, 1870.- S chancel chapel S by C. P. Bacon, designed by the architect Fellowes Prynne. - S Aisle (Queen Victoria) by Powell 1902. - N aisle (1906) and chancel E (1914) by H. W. Bryans. - MONUMENTS. An uncommonly large number of Brasses. In the chancel floor Civilian and four wives, c. 1570 (17 in. figures), also a brass of 1609. Beneath the entrance to the screen Knight, Lady and children, c. 1500 (2 ft 6 in.). In the S chapel: Two Knights and their wives, c. 1510 (2 ft 2 in.), Constance Berners d. 1524, and another probably of 1592. - Monument to (?) Richard Weston d. 1572, tomb-chest with shields in three cusped lozenges; no effigies. - Edward Elliott d. 1595, and wife, small, with  kneeling figures. - Sir Edward Pinchon, made in 1629 by Nicholas Stone for £66/13/4. Monument with an angel standing on a rock with a wheatsheaf in front of it. The figure reaches up above a segmental pediment behind. To the l. and the r. of the pilasters elaborately decorated with harvest tools are two harvesting girls with large straw hats, asleep. The inscription is from the parable of the Sower. The monument is a slightly modified version of that to Joyce Austin (Lady Clarke) 1633 in Southwark Cathedral. - Sir St John Comyns, Lord Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer d. 1740. Bulgy sarcophagus with life-size bust above. Urns to the l. and r. The ornament is Rococo. Signed by Cheere.

All Saints (3)

 Thomasina Heveningham 1513 (3)

 Wallpainting (1)

WRITTLE. Now that the world is one vast whispering gallery it is difficult to remember that as far as we are concerned it all began in this small Essex village, for Writtle was the birthplace of British Broadcasting.

We remember standing on a hilltop in Kent and hearing a man cough at Writtle, and time itself will not efface that memory or destroy that thrill. It was in the days when the wireless telephone was making its way and the wonderful Marconi men were sending out concerts for fifteen minutes every night. After the telephone a series of telegraphic signals was sent out on carefully measured wavelengths to enable amateurs to test their coils, and it was announced that those within 20 miles of Writtle could receive the programme on a crystal receiver. One of the papers reported that "in addition to the Writtle concerts, time signals from the Eiffel Tower, ships working wireless at sea, aeroplanes talking to aerodromes, weather reports, and many other interesting and useful messages were passing through space unheard and generally unsuspected by the public."

Seven hundred years before Marconi came into the world Writtle, it is believed, was famous for a palace of King John, and half a mile from its church is a dry moat with a fish-pond still called King John’s Palace. The great charm of Writtle, however, is in the pond and the cricket pitch on the village green, with houses of all ages framing its great triangle. Two 17th century houses stand by the churchyard, and the best and oldest of all, built about 1500, with its old timbering exposed, overhangs the path which brings us to the church. Here still are both the original porches, probably built when the church was completing its first century.

Most of the walls have stood about 700 years, but the tower was made new last century, two 600-year-old-grotesques having been built into it. The much-weathered font is Norman, the roof borne on musical angels is Tudor, and there are poppyhead pews of the 15th and 16th centuries and modern stalls with a 17th century frieze let into them. We found on a windowsill carvings of a man in a hat and a woman in a crown, both 600 years old.

On a striking sculpture by Nicholas Stone in memory of Edward Pinchon and his wife is a winged reaper, with arm upraised, standing on a rock amid sheaves of wheat with mourning angels about wearing wide-brimmed hats. On the wall kneel Edward and Jane Eliott with their 10 children, dressed as Elizabethans, and in the sanctuary is the bust of Sir John Comyns in his robes as Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer in the 18th century.

A remarkable group of brasses ranges over two centuries to the closing days of Shakespeare, and among them is a wife with three husbands, and a husband with four wives. The four wives belong to a civilian of 1510 and are all looking admiringly at him, three groups of children being with them; the three husbands belong to Thomasin Thomas, who wears a dress of the early 15th century. Two of the husbands are in armour, the third is represented only by his shield, but the lady has a second brass of herself.

Set in small stones near her are brasses of Elizabeth Pinchon in a Tudor cap and widow’s hood, with six kneeling children, and Constans Berners with her hair flowing down below her waist. A man and woman and eight children of the Bedell family are wearing 15th century dress; Edward Bell of 1576 is with his family; and Edward Hunt kneels in a ruff facing his wife at prayer, she in a tall hat.

The village has two greens with old houses round both, and on St John’s Green the dwellers in olden days paid a tax known as Green Silver, a halfpenny a year for the privilege of looking out on the Green. We have come upon a knight of our own time who pays a duke a shilling a year for the privilege of opening his window on a village green in Sussex.

It was at Writtle that there was born a most remarkable man named John Eastwick, who became a doctor at Colchester and wrote pamphlets against abuses in the church. For this his ears were cut off and he was thrown into prison, but the Long Parliament released him and granted him £5000 compensation from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s estate. He fought for Parliament in the Civil War, but after the king’s execution he became a pamphleteer once more, this time against the Independents.


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Horringer, Suffolk

On my way home from Bury I stopped at Horringer, and Depden but more of that later, which left so little impression that I had to check Simon Knott's entry for St Leonard. He rates it more highly than I do, finding points of merit where I only saw over restoration - I do, however, agree that the east window is stunning. It also had a couple of memorials to ancient relatives.

ST LEONARD. Dec chancel with E window of four lights with reticulated tracery. W tower Perp with pretty fleurons in the capitals of the arch towards the nave. The top is of brick, built in 1703. Perp S porch with much flushwork decoration, chequerboard as well as panel designs. A S chapel attached to its E wall. The N aisle of 1845. - STAINED GLASS. E window 1946 by J. E. Nuttgens. In the mildly Expressionist style of much modern English wood-engraving. - PLATE. Cup 1567-8; Flagon 1664; Paten and Almsdish 1699.

St Leonard

East window

Gargoyle (1)

HORRINGER. The main road has not spoiled it; it is still delightful with thatched cottages about its green. Its medieval church has an ancient painted roof and a font with brightly painted shields in its panels. By the altar is an old chair. The tower, started in the 15th century, was made as we see it in the 18th, and each of its
pinnacles has a little metal flag.


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Bury St Edmunds p3

Finally I re-visited the Abbey gardens which, as I remember from my school days, contains the remarkable remains of the abbey including the Charnel House, built to store the bones exhumed from the Great Churchyard to make way for new burials in the 13th century. The ruins are extensive and fascinating.

NORMAN GATE. Built under Abbot Anselm, i.e. between 1120 and 1148, as a gate to the church. It later served as a campanile for St James’s Church. A splendid piece of proudly decorated architecture of its date. The face to the town (W) is more ornate than the others. Big gateway, not vaulted inside. Heavy block capitals of the columns. The inner order on the W side has sculpture. Big roll mouldings. The arch projects like a porch and has a gable with fish-scale decoration. To the l. and r. are niches with billet decoration. Above these are short buttresses with intersected arches and pyramid roofs. On the first floor are two small two-light windows in much taller blank arches. The blank fields are decorated with a kind of vertical folding motif. The second and third stages are taken together by giant shafts with arches. Under these are three times two-light blank arches and above them three windows. On the fourth stage there are again giant shafts and arches. But this time the lower motif is roundels (cf. Norwich Cathedral) and the upper motif windows. Apart from the rich decoration on the lower stages of the W side, all four sides are essentially the same. Up to the C19 the Gate had its original battlements. It must thus have been one of the earliest embattled buildings in England.*

GREAT GATE. Begun after the riots of 1327 and before 1346. Completed after 1353. Strong, and yet as exquisitely decorated as only that moment in medieval English architecture could do. A very broad, embattled structure. Broad segmental arch leading from the town into a first part of the passage. There is then an inner gate and a longer second chamber. The side walls of these two passages have blank arches on a large scale with the boldest flowing tracery. Both parts were vaulted with ribs and tiercerons. The transverse arches did not differ in section or gauge from the ribs. Now back to the facade. Above the segmental arch are three niches and the whole is crowned by a big ogee gable with foiled circles l. and r. Big buttresses flank this centre. They have ogee-headed and steeply gabled niches in three tiers, two for the ground floor so far described, the third corresponding to a centre composition of five tall blank niches of which the centre one is wider and taller and has a crocketed gable. It is again flanked by circles, but inscribed into them are six-pointed stars. To the abbey side the ground floor has a shafted doorway, the shafts with leaf capitals, the arch with a double quadrant moulding; the first floor has a large transomed three-light window with at the top a figure of a four-petalled flower. This upper room has a fireplace.

ABBEY CHURCH. The surviving remains belong chiefly to the W front, where at the time of writing they are built into dwelling houses, and to the crossing and N transept (e.g. stair-turret in the N wall). On the E side of the W front indications of the system of the nave, on the E side of the crossing indications of the system of the chancel.

CLOISTER. Of the buildings around the cloister something can be recognized of the Parlour at the s end of the W range (one fragment of wall), the Refectory along the N side (where three bare walls stand to sill height), and the Chapter House, etc., on the E side, N of the N transept. N of the Chapter House and night stairs remains of a concave apsidal entrance to the Treasury, whose N wall is bent S to give access to the Warming Room. In the apse, bases of four small columns, two each side, on continuous plinths.

REMAINS EAST AND SOUTH of Church or Cloister. The buildings E of the E range are inarticulate. S of them and S of the church there is little to discover. A gable in a garden seems to have belonged to the Sacrist’s Quarters. A wall here runs N—S (through a private garden) towards the precinct S wall (see below). The CHARNEL HOUSE, with its triangular E end, is represented by walls of flint with arches and C18 iron gates and railings, NE of St Mary’s. E of the S turn of Schoolhall Street there is a stretch of the Norman precinct wall of c. 1130,  continued by a short bit of C13 walling. This ends at the river Linnet, but is continued E of the river Lark by the S wall of the big abbey vineyard (C14 gateway at its W end).

REMAINS NORTH of Church and Cloister. N of the Refectory the SE angle of GREAT COURT. N of the angle remains of the QUEEN’S CHAMBER with angle stair-turret. SE of this,in a detached position, one wall of the ABBOT’S CHAPEL, and to the S the REREDORTER with a N wall with detached buttresses. W of the S E angle of Great Court referred to is a fragment of the N wall of the LARDER. Further W, buried under a bank, are foundations which include a fireplace and W of it a porch. Further W what was probably the Sub-Cellarer’s Gate, which had a chapel above it. Then the buttressed S wall of Great Court, against which on the S, towards St James, stood the Hall of Pleas. Here a keeled string-course and fiat buttresses of c. 1200 and added buttresses of after 1327. S and N of Great Gate stretches of WALL, that to the N of the C12, heightened after the riot of 1327. Remains also of the buttressed N wall, S of Mustow Street. The surviving lancets (now blocked) date the walls to the early C13. From the NE angle of Great Court the Abbot’s House ran N-S, and a C14 part of its buttressed W wall remains. A fine buttressed outer wall starts by clasping buttresses of the late C12 and carries on to the E and to the Abbot’s Bridge across which it continues S towards the abbey vineyard (see above). Between that stretch of wall and the Abbot’s House a polygonal DOVECOTE. To the W of the dovecote fragments of a wing of rooms flanking the garden. The ABBOT’S BRIDGE consists of the bridge proper (visible from the W), which dates from the late C12, and the wall carried across it with three added C14 breakwaters, chamfered ribs in the arches, and exterior buttresses and flying buttresses.

* Mr Wolton’s observation.

Gate tower (1)

Norman tower (2)

Abbey gardens (7)

But the chief heritage of Bury St Edmunds from the historic past is in two gateways, magnificent survivals from Norman and medieval England, one leading into the ruins of one of the richest monasteries in East Anglia, the other housing the bells that summon the town to the cathedral church. There cannot be many towns with two great monuments like these, and if Bury had nothing more to see these towers would bring a multitude of pilgrims through its streets.

The medieval gateway of the abbey, leading us from the square called Angel Hill into the gardens laid out where the old monks used to walk, stands about 60 feet high, richly decorated with heads and small carvings, canopied niches and traceried panels, and with slender clustered shafts running up; it is all 14th century work. One of the shields on the walls has the arms of Edward the Confessor, and there is a carving showing a bull worried by dogs. The grooves for the portcullis are still visible.

Through this massive gateway we come into a few of the historic acres of England. Here it was that they laid King Edmund, killed by an arrow under a tree at Hoxne because he would not forswear his faith. Here the barons swore at Edmund’s altar that the king should do their will, sowing the seeds of Magna Carta. Here was buried the conqueror’s daughter Constance, and here they found the stone coffin of Abbot Samson, the man who opened Edmund’s coffin and saw the saint as he was.

There has been much excavation, and we may see the walls of the crypt of the abbot’s palace 700 years old, with part of a turret called the Dove House. Under the mounds are the walls of kitchens and dormitories, and there is an old buttressed wall by the river to protect the monks from floods. Two arches built into houses are all that is left of the mighty church which stood in these grounds, the third church built for St Edmund’s body. It was over 500 feet long, built about the year 1095, and it was in this place that the barons met; their 25 names are on tablets and on a pier is this inscription:

Near this spot, on the 20th of November 1215, Cardinal Langton and the Barons swore at St Edmund’s altar that they would obtain from King John the ratification of Magna Carta.

This great place was old when the massive gateway was raised, but close by it stands a gateway which saw the monastery in the days of its glory. It has now become the bell tower of St James’s Church, Bury’s Cathedral, and has been called one of the purest specimens of Norman architecture in England. Its walls are nearly six feet thick and 86 feet high, and its rich Norman work was done with axes. It has three tiers of arcades, small doorways in buttresses, and a square hooded doorway which was the porter’s gate. In the days of its greatness it was the gateway of the abbey churchyard; now it houses the ten bells of St James’s. We can go to the top and see all Bury, or we can go through the gateway into the ruins and gravestones, walking among houses probably built of materials from the abbey.


Bury St Edmunds p2

St Edmudsbury Cathedral was, until 1914, St James and has effectively been re-built in this century. The nave was begun in 1503, the chancel was re-built between 1860 and 1870 but the west porch, cloisters, quire, lady chapel, St Edmund's chapel and the crossing were all added between 1960 and 1970, as late as 1999 work was undertaken on the north transept whilst the tower was completed, as part of a Millenium project, in 2005.

All this work could, potentially, have had a detrimental effect but in fact it is all so sympathetic that the result is a delight.

ST JAMES, since 1914 the CATHEDRAL. 195 ft long and without a tower, as the Norman tower stands immediately S of the church. The church is essentially Perp. It was built chiefly in c. 1510-30, but completed only under Edward VI, who gave £200 towards it. The designer may well have been John Wastell, who designed the vaults and upper parts of King’s College Chapel at Cambridge, lived at Bury, and died in 1515. The chancel of St James’s was rebuilt by Scott in 1865-9. The Perp church is nine bays long in one even composition. For the purposes of a cathedral it is however not big enough, and S. E. Dykes Bower has prepared plans for a new chancel, five bays long, transepts, and a crossing tower with a concave-sided pyramid roof, which will look odd at Bury. Inside, the W arch of the crossing tower will receive the strange enrichment of a traceried strainer arch, a balustrade on it, and a further tripartite arch on top of that. On the N side of the chancel a chapter house, vestries, and a new Lady Chapel are to be built.* They will be connected with the church by a cloister, which is to run all along the N aisle as well and end at the W end in a new NW porch, flush with the original W front. This is stone-faced with embattled aisles and a new gable by Scott. Original transomed seven-light window below, original transomed five-light aisle W windows. Decorated base, decorated buttresses, tall niches l. and r. of the doorway. The sides all have three-light transomed windows, and the clerestory windows are double in number. The S side is stone-faced. Very tall arcades inside, the piers of lozenge shape with four thin shafts and four broad hollows in the diagonals. The shafts towards the nave rise right up to the roof, a roof unfortunately by Scott, and not original**. Only the shafts to the arch openings have capitals.

FURNISHINGS. PULPIT. Designed by Scott and made by Kett. - MOSAIC in the chancel, made for Scott by Salviati. - PAINTINGS. In the S chapel a German ‘Selbdritt’ of c. 1500, with two small demi-figures in the predella. - STAINED GLASS. S aisle, first window from the W. Good Flemish early C16 glass, e.g. Story of Susanna, Tree of Jesse. - Most of the C19 glass is by Clayton & Bell. - Chancel side windows by Kempe, very early: SE 1867, SW 1870. - S aisle w by Kempe, 1898. - E and W windows by Hardman (E c. 1869). - S chapel E, c. 1852 by Wailes. - S chapel S, c. 1847 by Warrington. - PLATE. Two Flagons and Almsdish 1685; Cup and two Patens 1686; Cup 1729; Almsdish 1807. - MONUMENTS. Against the w wall, S of the doorway, James Reynolds, Chief Justice of the Exchequer, d. 1738. White and black marble. Seated frontally in robe and wig. Two putti l. and r. No columns. Pediment on brackets. - Against the W wall N of the doorway Mrs Reynolds d. 1736. No figure. Sarcophagus with obelisk background and l. and r. two urns on pedestals.

* At the time of going to press it seems likely that the plans will be revised so as to delete the transepts and the crossing tower.
** Mr Dickinson praises the recent recolouring of the roof.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral (2)

Nave (3)

James Reynolds 1738 (4)

St Edmundsbury Cathedral (7)

St James’s comes from our three great building centuries, begun in the 13th and finished in the 15th, its chancel having been twice made new. It has a rich west front with fine medieval moulding and panelling, and a sundial on a buttress which says to passers by, Go about your Business. The nave is filled with slender piers which carry the arcades of nine bays to a great height, and the effect of a cathedral interior comes from its marvellous array of windows, 27 below and 36 filled with cathedral glass in the clerestory.

The great nave is nearly 140 feet long and half was wide, newly roofed last century by Sir Gilbert Scott when he rebuilt the chancel. The roofs of the aisles are 15th century. The chancel has mosaics of the Evangelists and frescoes of musical angels, and richly carved stone seats designed from the ancient pattern. Its chief possession is the handsome Bishop’s Throne, a superb piece of modern craftsmanship 25 feet high. It is all in oak, with fine canopies and delicate pinnacles, and with a boss in the vaulting of the crown and arrows of St Edmund, whose head is guarded by wolves. On the desk-ends are a griffin and an antelope. This throne has a font cover matching it, both the work of Mr F. E. Howard, an Oxford master of his craft. The font bowl stands on an ancient shaft; the bowl, like the cover, is new. The cover rises over 20 feet high, its rich canopy work adorned with emblems, its vaulted canopy with a central boss of a holy dove. Round the base are painted shields reminding us that this superb piece of woodwork is a memorial to those who did not come home from the Great War, many of them having been christened here.

The church is rich in possessions. On the high altar is a memorial cross in memory of an only child, with an inscription that life is eternal, love immortal, and death only the horizon, the limit of our sight; and there is a beautiful processional cross with crystals and enamels. The oldest treasure of the church is the chalice veil, a piece of Italian embroidery made about 1650. It has floral designs and emblems of the Passion worked in gold and other colours, and a raised figure of Our Lord. The gilded bronze candlesticks in the lady chapel are copies of those in the cathedral at Ghent, and the reredos in this chapel was carved by the lady it commemorates, Miss Lucy Giradot. Close by it is a painting by an unknown German artist.

The chief sculpture in St James’s is a remarkable monument by the west door on which James Reynolds sits in his judge’s robes, with wig and chain as he would sit 200 years ago, as Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer. Cherubs are drawing back the curtains that we may see him, one holding a torch and one weeping, and a little cherub is set aloft blowing a trumpet. Near the font are two marble portraits, a Chantrey medallion of the Revd E. V. Blomfield, and a marble of Benjamin Malkin copied from a bust by Chantrey; he was headmaster of King Edward’s School and had Edward FitzGerald among his scholars.

As for the glory of these great windows, enriching this church with colour and light, they are all modern but one, mostly the work of Clayton and Bell. The great west window shows the Last Judgment, and the east window the Transfiguration with scenes in the Life of St James. The north aisle windows have Old Testament scenes, the south aisle New Testament, and by the west doorway is the best of all, the Story of Creation. The oldest window is in the aisle at the south-west corner, and is called the Susanna window because it has her story in the lower lights. All the glass in this window has been collected and is old, some from the 14th century. It shows parts of a Jesse Tree, some kings and a bishop, Joachim carrying a lamb, two figures perhaps Cain and Abel, St Catherine, and kneeling angels with green wings. It is the general effect of the windows that is their great merit; they give the church a splendour not to be forgotten.


Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk p1

Choosing a beautifully clear, but bitterly cold - below freezing all day - Friday I went to Bury St Edmunds, which is well outside my self imposed distance limit but there are two churches and an Abbey that I have wanted to visit for ages.

I went to school just outside Bury but had, in the intervening years, forgotten how beautiful the town is. I started the day with St Mary which is absolutely stuffed with interest - this resulted in 238 photos!

St Mary claims to be the third largest parish church in England, to have the second longest aisle and the largest west window. It is part of the Benedictine Abbey site in the Historic Core in Bury St Edmunds. It is renowned for its magnificent hammer-beam Angel roof, and is the final resting place of Mary Tudor, Queen of France, Duchess of Suffolk and favourite sister of Henry VIII. Mary's tomb, along with over a hundred more tombs and monuments, the angels and a wealth of 15th century woodcarving and outstanding examples of stained glass are all magnificent. This is a church to relish and enjoy.

ST MARY.* 213 ft long. The tower stands on the N side, a little E of the W front. It is broad and sturdy, C14 in its lower part (bequest ‘if it shall be built’ 1393). Earlier C14 the simple N doorway of the church, and Dec the chancel, see the chancel arch. The church itself was built about 1430 (bequests 1425, 1430, 1432, for the rood-loft 1436, for the battlements 1442-5, for the porches 1437), and the chancel chapels were added by Jankyn Smith who died in 1481. The facade is similar to that of St James: stone-facing, embattled aisles, gabled nave. The windows are also transomed though only of four and five lights, and there are niches l. and r. of the doorway. Impressive S side with all windows identical from W to E: all of three lights with transom and under two-centred arches. The former S porch was pulled down in 1731. The clerestory has twice as many windows as the aisles. At its E end rise two rood-stair turrets with little crocketed spires and finials. The S aisle is stone-faced, the S chapel is not. On the N side the rhythm is less uniform. Here only the chancel chapel has windows with two-centred arches, the aisle windows have four-centred heads. Also there is an early C14 doorway, finely moulded, and there is the Porch bequeathed by the Will of John Nottyngham in 1437 and commemorating him and his wife. It is placed unusually far E, connected with the position of the church in the abbey precinct. The porch is stone-faced, has pinnacles, a gable with crockets, and three niches above the entrance. Inside it has a charming stone ceiling panelled with a wheel of blank arches the hub of which is an openwork pendant. The chancel projects one bay beyond the chapels. It has a late and bold E window. The interior is very impressive. Ten bays to the chancel arch. The piers have shafts to the nave, thin triple shafts with capitals to the arch openings, and broad hollows in the diagonals. The nave shafts rise to the roof, but branch off into roll hood-moulds over the arches. Also a shaft rises to the roof from the apex of each arch. The roof is rightly famous. The principals are supported in an alternating rhythm by hammerbeams with large angel figures against them and arched braces. The latter have 'embryo hammerbeams, not projecting beyond the braces but clamping them and disguised as carved grotesques' (Cautley). The spandrels of the braces are carved with dragons, unicorns, birds, fishes, etc. The collar-beams carry dainty arches with tracery. The wall-plate has demi-figures of angels. The wall-posts stand on corbels with angels, saints, martyrs, prophets, and kings. At the E end of the nave is a window above the chancel arch. This was inserted as part of Cottingham’s restoration of 1840. The chancel chapels are of three bays. Their piers are slenderer and simpler, but of the same type as in the nave. The chancel roof is a single-framed, straight-braced rafter roof, panelled. The panels are cusped and have bosses. Amongst the scenes on the bosses a fox preaching to chickens, a dog carrying two water-bottles, two dogs fighting.

FURNISHINGS. FONT. Octagonal, Perp, the base with four seated lions and four small standing figures. The bowl seems altered. - STALLS. On the S side. Poppy-heads, animals on the arms, traceried backs. - STAINED GLASS. W window by Heaton & Butler, 1859; S aisle E window by Gerente, 1856; N aisle E window by Heaton & Butler; window over the chancel arch by Willement, c. 1845; window above the S doorway by Clutterbuck, 1854; N aisle W by Ward & Hughes, 1868; first from W by H. Hughes, 1869; N aisle Transfiguration by Ward & Hughes, 1884. - PLATE. Cups 1661 and 1674; Flagon 1683; Flagon 1716; Paten 1745; two Alms dishes 1777. - MONUMENTS. Sir William Carew d. 1501. Big tomb-chest with shields in richly cusped quatrefoils. Two recumbent effigies (chancel N). - Sir Robert Drury d. 1536 (chancel S), almost a copy of the previous. - Jankyn Smith d. 1481 who built the chancel aisles and is supposed to have given the town the Guildhall. Brass, two kneeling figures, 2 ft long (S chancel chapel). - John Baret d. 1467 (S aisle E end). Tomb-chest with small shields in lozenge and quatrefoil fields. On it cadaver with this inscription:

He that wil sadly beholde one with his ie
May se hys owyn merowr and lerne for to die.

Other inscriptions about the tomb. Especially noteworthy the one on the pedestal (copied here from Tymms):

Wrappid in a selure as a ful rewli wrecche
No mor of al myn good to me ward wil strecche
From erthe I kam and on to erthe i am browht
This is my natur, for of erthe I was wrowht;
Thus erthe on to erthe to gedir now is knet
So endeth each creature Q’d Iohn Baret
Qwerfor ze pepil in weye of charite
Wt zor good payeris I prey zu help me
For lych as I am right so schal ze all be
Now God on my sowle have m’cy & pite. Amen.

Above the monument, which must have stood in a large chantry area, the aisle roof is panelled and has his motto ‘Grace me governe ’ and the Lancastrian SS painted on. - Mary Tudor d. 1533 (chancel N side), second daughter of Henry VIII, married to King Louis XII of France, and after his death (first secretly) to Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk. - Brass to Archdeacon John Fyners d. 1509 (N chapel).

* Trial excavations in 1958 revealed the W wall of the BASILICA OF ST DENIS built c. 1080 and demolished c. 1140 to make way for the W front. The basilica was replaced by the parish church of St James (now the cathedral). 

St Mary (1)

Nave (1)

John Baret 1467 (3)

Poppyhead (4)

Lectern (2.1)

Mee dedicates seven pages on the town so I'm extracting the relevant bits to save on space - however given the length of his entry for St Mary it wont save much.

The great church of St Mary has been continuous on this acre of mother earth for 1300 years. The first church was built on the site about 633 and destroyed by the Danes; the second was built in 903 to receive the body of St Edmund, who was killed by the Danes; the third church replaced the wooden one with stone in 1032, but as the abbey church grew the site of St Mary’s was required for a new wing of the great St Edmund’s Church, and the fourth church was built on the other side of the churchyard (the present site) in 1135. It was pulled down in 1425, and the fifth St Mary’s has been used without a break since 1433.

It is 70 yards long with a splendid clerestoried nave of 10 bays under one of the most magnificent medieval roofs, angels and scores of saints looking down from the hammerbeams. At the east end above the chancel screen is a richly painted beam and two fine angels looking down in red, white, blue, and gold. The medieval chancel roof is richly carved and painted with animals and musical angels, and the carved cornice is painted with angels holding scrolls, containing parts of the Te Deum. At one corner of the south aisle is a little piece of the roof as it has been for 500 years; it covers the chantry of John Baret who lies below it, a wasted figure in a shroud on a strange altar tomb.

There are two staircases to the roodloft, the top and bottom doors on each side of the chancel arch carved with delicate tracery, and it is odd that the doors on one side are bigger than the others, a little fancy which means that the man who read the Gospel went one way and the man who read the Epistles went the other, and the bigger door is to indicate the Greater Glory of the Gospel. We found much fine woodwork being done for the Suffolk Regiment, whose church this is; the roodscreen with its elegant canopy, in memory of all officers who die on active service, is fine, and the organ, one of the best in England, was being raised when we called. The medieval choir-stalls have handsome poppyheads and heraldic animals on the arm-rests, among them a stag sitting on its haunches with a shield hanging from its jewelled collar, a sphinx, and a queer creature with a collar and a chain. The font is also medieval, with lions and men round the base.

One of the most famous corners of St Mary’s Church is the Notyngham porch, built by a grocer of that name 500 years ago. Very striking it is outside, with crowned lions and grotesque men, but it is its ceiling which attracts all travellers, especially the pendant hanging from the middle, which we must stand backwards at a difficult angle to see; it shows angels attending the Almighty.

The windows have about 800 figures in them. The east window has the four Archangels, the west is a thankoffering for an abundant harvest in 1934, one of the biggest windows in any parish church. It has a lovely central figure of Our Lord with the Disciples, and scenes of Gethsemane and the Road to Calvary. In another notable window, with about 70 figures in it, are scenes from a pathetic royal story. The window was given by a queen of England in memory of a queen of France - it is Queen Victoria’s tribute to Henry the Eighth’s sister Mary, who lies in a grave by the altar here.

She was a beautiful girl of eighteen when it suited her only brother, Henry the Eighth, to marry her to King Louis the Twelfth of France, who had six months before lost his queen. The princess crossed the Channel with 400 barons and knights, 200 gentlemen, and 80 ladies, and on reaching the French coast her ship ran aground, and the bride was carried ashore in a man’s arms. It is a sad little tale, for she was married on October 9, crowned on November 5, and widowed on New Year’s Day. Then she came back and married her old love Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and her rapacious brother was so enraged that he made Brandon pay the cost of the French marriage and continual sums beside.

One of their daughters became the mother of Lady Jane Grey. The king showed his sister much kindness in the end, and she took part in the dazzling pageantry of the Field of the Cloth of Gold; but she scorned Anne Boleyn, and came into disfavour again, and finally came to live at Westhorpe Hall in Suffolk, where she died in 1533. She was buried in the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, and when the monastery was dissolved her coffin was brought to St Mary’s. About 250 years after her death the coffin was opened and Horace Walpole took a lock of her hair. We remember that 250 years after one queen’s death Pepys stooped down by her open coffin in Westminster Abbey and kissed her; she was Henry the Fifth’s Katharine.

It occurred to Queen Victoria to put up this window to the Queen of France and the marble stone round the tomb was given by Edward the Seventh. The window has scenes of the marriage in France, her widowhood, her meeting with her brother, and her burial in the abbey; we see her also carried in a sedan chair. On the stone above her grave are five crosses.

By the altar also lies Sir William Carew and his wife, who knew this church in the 15th century, and on an altar tomb facing them lies Sir Robert Drury, Speaker in the time of Henry the Seventh. His wife is with him and has a bag and a girdle. Hanging in the lady chapel are two helmets of Sir Robert.

Among a small but very interesting group of brasses is one to George Estye of Shakespeare’s day; it has a candlestick in one corner. Another brass has been twice used, once for Eleanor Wynn in 1400 and once for William Fairclyffe in 1600. The brass portraits of Jankyn Smyth and his wife show them kneeling with raised hands, she in a butterfly headdress, and it is said that a sermon they endowed to be preached every Thursday after Plough Monday has been preached since 1481, the oldest endowed sermon in England. There is a lovely brass of Archdeacon Fyners of 1509, and an engraved brass tablet to Peter Gedge, who printed the first newspaper in this town in the days of Napoleon. We read of him that:

Like a worn-out type he is returned to the founder, in hope of being recast in a better and more perfect mould.

Somewhere about St Mary’s lies George Kirbye, one of the best English writers of madrigals in the days of Merrie England. He published 24 of them, calling them the first fruits of his poor knowledge in music. There are three tributes here to men of the Suffolk Regiment. One is to the fifty men who went down with the Birkenhead, standing at attention; another is to 153 men who fell in South Africa; and the third is the roll of honour for the Great War, which has over seven thousand names.