Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Hawstead, Suffolk

As I've said before if the quality of a church can be measured by the number or photographs taken then All Saints, with 176, must be up there with the best of them. Here we are getting into the meat and drink of this trip.

The interior is stuffed with monuments and brasses, roof angels and good glass. It also plays host to the Drurys - Great Grandparents on both sides of the tree. I rather think Simon Jenkins must have found it locked, for I can think of no other reason for its omission from his definitive list.

This, I suspect, will be a long entry so I'll cut straight to Pevsner:

ALL SAINTS. Norman doorways, N and S, with one order of shafts and one of zigzag in the arch. Chancel of c. 1300 (see the chancel arch and the side windows), but with a Perp E window. Perp W tower, N and S sides, and S porch. The porch has flushwork decoration on the buttresses, the W tower a higher SE stair-turret, flushwork decoration on the battlements, and a base with emblems. Frieze of shields above the W doorway. The shields refer to Sir Robert Drury (see below) and the end of the c 15. Very tall tower arch. The nave has windows whose sills form seats. The nave roof must once have been very fine, but it was over-restored in 1858. It is Latest Perp, and money was still given for building it in 1552. Alternating hammerbeams with angel figures against them and arched braces. Wall-plates with shields and small quatrefoils. Pretty Perp chancel roof, canted and panelled with the monogram of Jesus and arabesques. - PULPIT. Early c16. LG) - BENCHES. Some with poppy-heads. - FAMILY PEW. Jacobean, with some marquetry work. - STALLS. With blank tracery along the fronts and poppy-heads. - SCREEN, late c 15, with the SANCTUS BELL fixed to the top rail. LG) - COMMUNI0N RAIL. Now in the tower arch. With turned balusters; c17. - LECTERN. With two book-rests, C.1500; minor - STAINED GLASS. Some C15 and later glass in a nave N window (roundels) and the chancel SW window. E window by Heaton & Butler, 1856. - PLATE. Elizabethan Cup (?); Cup and Paten 1675. - MONUMENTS. Few churches in Suffolk possess as many as Hawstead. Cross-legged Knight, fine carving, late C13 (chancel N). The efligy lies on an early C 14 tomb—chest with blank pointed-trefoiled arcading in an early C 14 niche. The niche is richly adorned with thick foliation along the arch moulding and has big buttresses l. and r. and a top cresting. - Brasses to a boy of c. 1500 (10in.), a girl of c. 1530 (8 in.; both S aisle E), and Ursula Allington c. 1530 (17 in.; chancel floor). - Tomb-chest for Sir Wilby Drury d 1557. Lozenges on the tomb chest; brasses on the lid. - Elizabeth Drury d. 1610. Semi-reclining figure. Alabaster. Under the back arch a fine cartouche. Good allegorical figure seated frontally on the arch. - Sir Robert Drury d. 1615. By Nicholas Stone. Black and white marble. Big black sarcophagus. Two columns carrying two arches. Above the spandrel between the two, high up, demi-figure in oval niche. The oval is held by two allegorical figures.  - Sir Thomas Cullum, signed, according to Mr Gunnis, by Jacinthe de Coucy, 1675. Coloured plaster. Big and black. Fluted Ionic pillars, strangely voluted top. Sarcophagus in the middle, painted to appear pietra-dura. The surround of the inscription plate is treated in the same way. - Finally a group of late C 18 to early C19 tablets, all variations on the same theme of the urn with or without mourning allegorical figures. The earliest is the finest. Lucy Metcalfe. Signed by Bacon Sen. 1793. Roundel with the relief of Benevolence on the base of an urn. - Viscountess Carleton d 1810 by Bacon jun. The female figure lies on the sarcophagus and holds the inscription scroll. - Christopher Metcalfe d. 1794. A woman mourns over a sarcophagus. Signed Bacon London and S. Manning (i.e. Bacon jun.), — Signed by the same C. B. Metcalfe d. 1801, Philip Metcalfe d. 1818, and Frances Jane Metcalfe d. 1830.

Glass (14)


Sir William Drury 1557 (2)

HAWSTEAD. Even its trees are famous, for the three great planes which, with stately limes, help to beautify the road to Bury St Edmunds are among the oldest in the country, and are said to have been the gift of Francis Bacon to his friend Robert Drury.

For generations the home of the Drurys, Hawstead Place, where Queen Elizabeth spent some happy days in 1578, survives only as a farm, but we found the piers of its 17th century gateway still standing, its moat still wet, and its gardens delightful. The almshouses are from the days before Waterloo; the old guildhall has been converted into cottages.

The church stands amid smiling fields where the authors of Domesday Book found a Saxon church and built their own in its place. In the churchyard is a cross to four children of the old hall who died before they had lived a year. There are two Norman doorways, their simple ornament still bold and dignified. The tower has the arms of its 15th century builder. In the interior are the old stone seats by the walls of the nave, a piscina which served for three centuries before the Reformation, and the font, bearing marks of the iron staples to which its lid was clamped to guard the holy water from witchcraft 700 years ago.

Under a richly ornamented arch lies Eustace FitzEustace, who may have been christened at the font when it was new, for here he has rested in his armour, his legs crossed with his dog at his feet, since the last Crusade was nearing its close in 1270. He is the patriarch of a wonderful company of figures in brass and marble. Near the chancel arch are the 16th century portrait brasses of a forgotten boy and girl. On an altar tomb, over which is his helmet with a dog on it, are excellent brass portraits of Sir William Drury in armour, his two wives and their 13 daughters, but his sons have vanished. His quaint inscription has the prayer:

Who yet doth live, and shall do still, in hearts of them that knew him.
God grant the slips of such a stock in virtues to ensue him.

A massive marble tomb has a bust of a second William Drury, killed in 1589 in a duel over a point of precedence; and here also is Sir Robert Drury, who sleeps with his wife and their four-year-old daughter of Shakespeare’s day. Her inscription is a gem of simple pathos:

She, little, promised much, too soon untied,
She only dreamt she lived, and then she died.

But most famous of all is the alabaster figure of Sir Robert’s elder daughter Elizabeth, aged 16, the beautiful girl with whom Prince Henry, Charles Stuart’s brother, is said to have been in love. Guarded by two watchdogs, she lies with her head resting on an arm, while a gentle woman scatters flowers over her.

John Donne, who with his wife and children was the guest of Sir Robert at Drury House, the family’s London home, wrote several Latin epitaphs here, but Elizabeth’s moving lines he wrote in English:

Her pure and eloquent blood
Spoke in her cheeks and so distinctly wrought
That one might almost say her body thought.

The poet was not yet Dean of St Paul’s but had just entered on his five years’ residence in the Drury household. Elizabeth was of the same age as the poet’s wife at the time of his marriage, and the girl’s  death so sadly impressed him that he mourned it in his poem "An Anatomic of the World, wherein, by occasion of the untimely death of Mistress Elizabeth Drury, the frailty and the decay of this whole world is represented." Ben Jonson reproved its author for the ardour with which he had written, saying that "if it had been written to the Virgin Mary it had been something," to which Donne replied that he "described the idea of a woman, and not as she was."

Among the other monuments here are the massive marble tomb, elaborate with pillars and heraldry, of Sir Thomas Cullum, whose 17th century helmet hangs above it; a marble figure of Benevolence in memory of Lucy Metcalfe; and the alabaster figure of Mary Buckley, Viscountess Carleton, who died in 1810. There is an inscription to Elise Galeer, a devoted companion for half a century, and another to Paul Merlin who fell while leading his men in 1915.

Three centuries of the Cullums are represented in the windows. Two were rectors here, one in the 17th century and one in the 18th, and are shown lifesize in a nave window, seated on either side of a Crucifixion scene. A fine modern window to the last of his line to live at Hardwick House, Bury St Edmunds, has St George and St Gery, a 6th century bishop of Cambrai. In another window with a
Crucifixion are medallions of old glass.

A modern statue of the infant Christ gazes from below the tower window towards a rich 13th century chancel, which has a splendid 15th century roof of painted panels with handsome gilt bosses, and on a fine 15th century screen hangs a little sanctus bell which was ringing in Shakespeare’s days. Angels are carved on the grand old nave roof, whose beams are supported by corbel heads. There are beautiful lamp brackets, and ancient carved benches, some with dogs for armrests, a handsome old pulpit with linenfold panelling, and a grand chest with three locks.

The home of the Drurys is a name, but their fame is secure in the undying verse of a poet who loved the beautiful child of their house. They gave the church its tower, which bears their arms, and were long lords of the manor. Sir Robert Drury, a 15th century barrister, was elected Speaker in 1495, and had a hand in beneficent legislation. In 1501, on the ground that his home was a mile from the church and the road subject to "inundations and other perils," he obtained the sanction of the Pope to build a private chapel. He witnessed the signature of Henry the Eighth to the treaty of peace with Scotland, accompanied the king to the Field of the Cloth of Gold, was given precedence next to Sir Thomas More in the Privy Council, and permitted to convert 2000 acres of land into parks and fortify his home.

Of his three sons, Sir William Drury, whose brass portrait is in the church, was a famous soldier under Elizabeth, who came to visit him here. He built the great Drury House from which Drury Lane took its name. His younger brother Dru Drury was a trusted courtier of Queen Elizabeth, and was sent to Fotheringhay to share with Sir Amyas Paulet the custody of Mary Queen of Scots. He would read the horrible letter in which Paulet was urged to murder his prisoner in secret, and would participate in that stout veteran’s refusal. The Speaker’s third son, Robert, founded the Buckinghamshire branch of the family, but it was here in 1527 that the most famous, member of the family, his son Sir William, was born. Educated at Cambridge University, he won fame as soldier, sailor, and ambassador.


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