Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Newmarket, Suffolk

Well this is going to be succinct; all three churches I visited were locked with no keyholder. St Agnes is Victorian and drab, All Saints is Victorian and better and St Mary is OK but heavily restored.

Pevsner is brutal:

Finally the CHURCHES, which at Newmarket can indeed be considered last.

ST MARY is the old parish church. It lies close to the old and now dilapidated quarter of MARKET HILL (with some weather-boarded cottages) and is so restored that practically all is new. The chancel was rebuilt entirely in 1856. C14 S arcade with keeled quatrefoil piers and castellated capitals and double-hollow-chamfered arches. Perp W tower with shingled spire. Perp S doorway with an angel in the apex of the arch. - PISCINA. c 13, with the angle shaft so often met with in Suffolk. Found at the time of the restoration. - STAINED GLASS. In the S aisle a window by Kempe  & Tower, 1907. - PAINTINGS. Big Italian or Spanish c 17 painting of the Virgin, with her Mother holding the Child Christ, and the little St John the Baptist. - Christ entering Jerusalem, by J Wood (1801-70).

ALL SAINTS. 1876-7. Bad, Geometrical, with a SW tower. - Inside a CARTOON by Burne-Jones of a large angel holding a bow and sheltering human beings. Inscription from Dante: ‘L’amor che muove . . .’. - STAINED GLASS. W window by Gibbs.

ST AGNES, Bury Road. By Carpenter, 1886. Red brick with an asymmetrically placed spirelet. Inside much decoration with Spanish tiles. The straight E end is made into one composition with the large REREDOS by Boehm, representing the Assumption of the Virgin (curiously Baroque in the treatment of relief), and the E.E. arches above it. - PLATE. Cup, Norwegian, 1707; three Flower Vases 1728.

St Mary (4)

All Saints (3)

St Agnes (2)

Newmarket has three churches that will appeal to a traveller who has no interest in the racecourse: the parish church of St Mary’s tucked away in the comer of a little square; St Agnes, a cosy modern building hiding in trees on the edge of the town, and All Saints, rebuilt last century (on the style of a church Charles Stuart knew well) with attractive arcades of which the capitals are carved with flowers growing hereabouts.

St Mary’s, the oldest building in the town, has lost much of its old work, but its structure is 15th century and so is its embattled tower, with a slender shingle spire and a massive arch. Its best possession is its series of window pictures in a gallery of lovely glass in light rich colouring by Christopher Webb. A red-winged Gabriel is   bringing the good news to Mary, and there is a scene of the marriage of Mary and Joseph, a fine Nativity with angels and shepherds, and the finding of Jesus in the Temple. They are memorials to the Hammond family, who are also remembered in the iron tower screen, at the top of which are two actual swords crossed in memory of a Hammond who fell at Le Cateau when the Great War was 22 days old. A brass tablet tells of another Hammond who was a chorister and sacristan for 70 years, and there is another tablet to Alice Rogers, who worshipped here for 60 years. An inscription tells us that a 17th century rector, Robert Cooke, died in the pulpit. Under the floor of the church lies the father of Cardinal Wolsey, a butcher of Ipswich at Newmarket.

The little church of St Agnes has hanging on each side of the altar lovely curtains of blue and gold brocade 200 years old, and a beautiful reredos by Sir Edgar Boehm with a fine sculpture of the Ascension. Glowing with gold on the sanctuary wall are rich mosaics of the Madonna, St Patrick, and St George, and there is a small panel of the garden of Eden with the serpent round the tree. Hanging on the wall is an oil painting of the Last Supper.

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