Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Great Welnetham, Suffolk

St Thomas a Becket is a rather strange looking building with a weatherboard bell turret and brutal render but inside is a light and airy church. I suspect a rather heavy handed Victorian restorer has been at work here and I'm afraid that it lacks the allure of many of the other churches in the area.

ST THOMAS A BECKET. Small. Nave and chancel and N aisle. Weather boarded bell-turret of 1749. The chancel is c13 with N lancets, and finely if simply detailed Sedilia and Piscina. The nave perhaps of the same date. Circular, quatre-foiled w window. The N aisle is Dec. Two-bay arcade. Tiny clerestory. - FONT. Perp, octagonal. - PULPIT. With panels of c. 1500. - STAINED GLASS. Plenty of fragments in the chancel SE window. - PLATE. Cup 1658; Almsdish 1691;Flagon 1717.

St Thomas a Becket (2)

Window (9)

North aisle

GREAT WHELNETHAM. A village high up beside the River Lark, it has a little church without a tower but with 700 years of history behind it, and with a churchyard yew which has kept it company for centuries. By the priest’s doorway into the nave we noticed a small stone carved with a twisted snake design. A small porch with unusual traceried windows takes us into an interior lit up by lovely windows. Some have precious fragments of old glass. The east window shows David with his sling, St George, St Nicholas holding a boat, Joan of Arc, and tiny scenes from their lives, all in memory of the village heroes who died in our own time The little windows of the clerestory are of varying shapes. The font was carved with roses by a 15th century craftsman, but the finest stonework here is the 14th century sedilia, three lovely arches thrown up against a green background. In the oak pulpit are some old carved panels. Near the altar is a tablet to Henry George Phillips whose ministry in the 19th century lasted 57 years. But his record did not equal that of Thomas Lord of the century before, for he was rector 62 years. Much of the north wall of the chancel is tiled in memory of a clerk who died in 1911 after 31 years service. Some of the tiles are plain, others show crowns and monograms and doves. The charming white Elizabethan rectory is one of the few remaining that are thatched with reeds.

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