Monday, 5 March 2012

Boxford, Suffolk

Here in this beautiful village is a gem of a church. Approaching from the north I was struck by the unusual spire and also by the clerestory but it was not until I got round to the south side that I realised that St Mary was going to be a stunning visit. The south porch is a beauty with much surviving carving and really lifts St Mary up the scale. The interior doesn't disappoint either with a great modern chancel window by Rosemary Rutherford and lots more interest.

This is definitely one of Suffolk's best churches but Simon Jenkins doesn't even mention it!

ST MARY. The village lies close to the stream (the Box), and the church is immediately by it. Its most interesting feature is the timber-built N porch. It may well be the earliest timber porch in the county. Big Dec two-light windows, and a rib-vault, now a skeleton only but perhaps originally with filled-in cells. There are diagonal ribs, ridge-ribs, and one pair of tiercerons to each side. The S porch is the very opposite, Late Perp, stone-faced, and exceedingly swagger. Money was left for its building in 1441 and 1452. Complete before 1465. Four-light windows in two bays, of two different designs, plenty of decoration on the front, the buttresses and parapet, head-stops, gargoyles, etc., all rather wild. C14 W tower, with a pretty lead spirelet, probably early C19. Perp aisles and chancel chapels, Perp clerestory of closely set windows. Perp the pretty doorways on the W side and the N side. Perp arcades of four bays. Piers with four shafts and four hollows, finely moulded arches. Chancel chapel arcades of two bays, the s details similar to those of the nave arcades, the N side with thinner (later?) elements. At the E end of the S chapel niches in two tiers l. and r. of the window. - FONT. Only the panelled stem of the Perp font. - FONT COVER. C17, cupboard type, with ogee cap. - PULPIT. Nice C18 piece. The staircase with finely twisted balusters, two to the tread. - PANELLING. Some linenfold panelling (S aisle E end). - DOORS. S door with tracery and border with quatrefoils. - N door with only a quatrefoil border. - W door with a border of vine trails. - WEST GALLERY. Handsome, with cusped panels. - PAINTINGS. Above the chancel arch small demi-figure of Christ, and l. and r. large figures of angels with wings spread. A crowned figure on the E wall of the S  chapel. - PLATE. Cup and Paten 1565; Flagon 1732.

St Mary (4)

 South porch

East window (1)

David Birde 1606 (1)

BOXFORD. Its red roofs make a welcome patch of colour in a green valley, and some of its houses have old plasterwork on their walls. The big church is chiefly 15th century, and has beautiful tracery in its windows, a clerestory, and a lofty tower crowned with a quaint lantern spire above strange little animals on the buttresses. The tower has three medieval bells, and there is a mass dial.

The west door is carved with birds and leaves, and the 14th century north porch, with its grand roof and rich niches, is the finest wooden porch in the county. The south porch has elaborate panels, beautiful niches, spandrels with angels, and four 15th century windows. An unusual effect is given to the east window by tracery in the shape of a cross. There are good stone corbel heads below the nave roof and traces of wall-painting above the chancel arch, and between two niches in a chapel is a crowned figure in a cloak with a green lining. An old gallery has an attractive balustrade, and there are two fine 17th century chairs and a big old chest. The traceried font is 600 years old and is remarkable for its 17th century cover, with little doors opening to panels with painted texts.

Remembered within these walls are an old rector, a very old lady, and a little child. The rector is John Church, who preached here more than 50 years in the 18th century; the old lady is Elizabeth Hyam, who was a widow four times and is said to have reached the great age of 113 when a fall hastened her end in 1748. But most touching of all in this big church is the little brass picture made as a memorial to David Birde of 1606. His father was rector, and never can he have conducted a sadder service than that over the body of his little boy. The picture is a pathetic one, of little David in a great bed, his shoes at the side where he left them when he climbed into the bed for the last time.

No comments:

Post a Comment