Monday, 20 August 2012

Preston St Mary, Suffolk

St Mary is Victorian rebuild with an early porch, a Norman font, two Elizabethan boards - a  Royal arms triptych and Decalogue - and copious amounts of medieval glass arms. I never imagined I would (or could) meet two Suffolk churches on one trip that I found bland but there you go.

ST MARY. The W tower was rebuilt in 1868. Dec chancel - see one old S window and the Piscina in the E jamb of the SE window. Perp aisles and clerestory. The arcade piers have four filleted shafts and squares in the diagonals. Low tomb recess in the N aisle. N porch with rich flushwork panelling. Three-light windows with tracery. Three niches above the entrance. - FONT. Norman, square, with rosettes, stars, intersected arches, a tree of life, and inter-lace. - ROYAL ARMS and TEN COMMANDMENTS. Painted, of triptych shape, Elizabethan, i.e. exceptionally early, as Commandment Boards go. - STAINED GLASS. About fifty heraldic pieces in the aisle E windows and the clerestory windows. Made, it is said, for Robert Reyce of Preston Hall, d. 1638, a noted antiquarian. - In the S aisle a window by Ward & Hughes, 1884; terrible. - PLATE. Paten 1624.

EIR arms (1)

Exodus Chap XX

Font (2)

PRESTON. A grand old yew receives us into the churchyard, with a church which was here before the days of Magna Carta. The 14th century chancel remains, but the nave, with clustered columns supporting its clerestory, is a century younger. The 15th century porch, with its panelled flint work and graceful buttresses, is among the finest of Suffolk’s fine porches; over its entrance is a lovely canopied niche and within is an altar tomb thought to be that of the porch builder. The massive font, with its elaborate inter-lacing, is Norman; the screen is modern but blended with fragments of the old. For 300 years Robert Ryece and his wife have been sleeping by the altar, not far from their hall, which is now a farmhouse. Their memorial stones are appropriately adorned with heraldic brasses, for Robert was an antiquary and a keen student of heraldry. Over a door is a wooden panel with Queen Elizabeth’s coat-of-arms painted to his orders, and into the windows of this church he placed the heraldry of 167 Suffolk families. Some of this glass can still be seen in the aisle and clerestory windows, and it is all described in a Breviary of Suffolk, published 300 years after Ryece had written it.

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