Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Little Whelnetham, Suffolk

Last Friday saw me in Suffolk in an attempt to finish off the North West quadrant of my search area (an attempt that almost succeeded in that I've only got Stradishall, Hundon and Haverhill to visit having done Snailwell and Newmarket today). I visited 9 churches, gained access to 8 of them and saw some of the finest interiors in this corner of Suffolk to date.

St Mary Magdalene is a small church in an idyllic position - secluded and tranquil. To the east of the existing chancel are the remains of the Norman apse and inside are roof angels and lion head corbels. There's a rather peculiar lectern which also grabs the eye.

Pevsner: ST MARY MAGDALEN. Small. Dec W tower and chancel. Nave mostly Perp. Nice Perp brick porch with stepped gable. The nave roof has the unusual rhythm of one pair of principals with hammerbeams and then two simply with arched braces. Figures against the hammerbeams. In the nave E wall below the roof a sexfoiled circular window. It is said that traces of a Norman apse were found E of the present chancel. In the nave S wall inside a piece built in that may belong to a former Norman Pillar Piscina. (In the chancel low-side window with iron grille. LG) - FONT. Octagonal, Perp, simple. - SCREEN. Only the dado remains. - BENCHENDS. With poppy-heads and tracery.

Lectern (3)

William Bauley 1705 detail

Cross, I was livid

LITTLE WHELNETHAM. Two of its buildings take us back to medieval England. One is the pretty patchwork farm at Chapel Hill, which has grown out of the broken shell of a priory; the other is the church, which has the foundations of a Norman apse, and has a 13th century tower with a 600-year-old window still keeping its wooden shutters. It looks beyond the old trees in the churchyard on to far horizons. By a solid oak door we enter a light 15th century nave where figures of queens bear up the original hammerbeam roof. Over the 14th century chancel arch is a dainty window. Near the altar are two quaintly carved chairs, one with people and animals, the other with a child and somebody reading. A lovely oak screen shuts off the tower.

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