Sunday, 22 July 2012

Assington, Suffolk

Storm clouds were gathering as I arrived at St Edmund which I found locked but with, seemingly reluctant, keyholders listed and a notice advising that due to a string of burglaries it was now only open on weekends - this actually seemed fair enough as it's very isolated (let's not re-visit that debate) and only had Llamas as guardians...I assume they're are not very efficient watchdogs.

I might make the effort to re-visit.

ST EDMUND. Close to the Hall, and handsome in the contrast of its flint colour to the brick of the Hall. Chancel rebuilt c. 1830. Restored and W tower rebuilt in 1863. What survives of original work is all Perp, including the four-bay arcade. - SOUTH DOOR. A splendid Perp piece with tracery and a border of foliage trails. - PLATE. Set of 1843-4. - Monuments. Brass to a Knight and Lady, c. 1500 (nave floor). - Robert Gurdon d. 1577 and wife, and John Gurdon d. 1623 and wife. Double monument of c. 1625 with two pairs of the usual kneeling figures facing one another across a prayer-desk. Children in the pre-della. - Brampton Gurdon, dated 1648. His demi-figure and those of his two wives; represented frontally. He is flanked by columns. Top with a handsome pedimental arrangement. - John Gurdon d. 1758 and his wife d. 1710. The tablet must be nearer her death than his. Good cartouche with a cherub’s head below. - Philip Gurdon d. 1817 and wife. Tablet by the younger Bacon.

St Edmund (1)

Gurdon memorial


ASSINGTON. Standing in a park with magnificent cedars, the ivy-clad home of the ancient family of the Gurdons has for its neighbour the ideally situated 15th century church. The tower, 75 feet high, has been remade from the old materials, among which we may still see the long-and-short work of the Saxons, built into the interior. The fine porch has a magnificent old door with carvings of an angel, little animals, and birds pecking grapes clustered on the vine. In the church we found a robin blithely singing. Two 15th century portrait brasses in the nave floor show the figure of an armoured man with hair to his shoulders, a great sword by his side and a quaint dog at his feet, his wife in fur sleeves and with a handsome girdle about her gown. They are unknown.

The rest of the memorials are mainly to the Gurdons who rose to wealth and influence when Sir Adam Gurdon, defeated in single combat by Edward the First during the Barons War, was pardoned and made the royal friend and confidant. A wall-monument in the chancel, linking the 16th and 17th centuries, is to Robert Gurdon and his kinsman Sir John. Both wear armour and baggy red breeches, both kneel on cushions facing their wives, and below each pair kneel a son and daughter, wearing ruffs.

On a huge 17th century tomb, under a classical canopy supported by marble shafts  and enriched with heraldry, is the dignified figure of Brampton Gurdon, his curly head bare, wearing a cloak and holding a handkerchief and a knobbed stick; his two wives are with him, one carrying a book and wearing a big ruff, the other, aged and stern, in a cape and with a headdress reaching to her shoulders.

There is a tablet to Sir William Brampton Gurdon, who, born in 1840 and living into our own time, was proud to describe himself as a farmer. He was twice private secretary to Mr Gladstone. So particular was he concerning public money that as secretary of a Conference in Paris he deducted half-a-crown from the allowance for an illustrious member who had asked his son to the lunch provided for the Commissioners. Another tablet on the walls records a heroic triumph over physical disability; it is to William Francis Warner, blind organist at this church for 55 years, dying in 1926.

Note to self - having read Pevsner and Mee I probably should make the effort.

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