Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Little Coggeshall, Essex

St Nicholas Chapel is the last remnant of Coggeshall Abbey and lies south of the town. After being used for many years as a barn it was restored in the late C19 and is now sporadically in use as a church.

ABBEY. The Abbey was founded by King Stephen about 1140 and made Cistercian in 1147. Of the C12 church no traces remain above ground. Of the cloister S of it a little has recently been excavated, C15 buttresses and wall-shafts of the arcades. Of the monastic buildings there are indications of the dormitory, Undercroft (one semicircular C13 respond) and one fine C13 doorway leading into a completely reserved corridor to the E of the former Dormitory. This has single-chamfered ribs and arches to the E. S of it and of the Dormitory a range of unknown purpose. It has lancet windows with round heads inside. The same windows also in a detached building SE of the former. This is not aligned with the Dormitory and cloister. From its style and from documentary evidence Mr J. Gardner attributes these two buildings to c. 1185-90 and the Dormitory to c. 1180. Finally, completely detached from all the rest the chapel of St Nicholas, the gate chapel or capella extra portas of the abbey - a plain rectangle with lancet windows on the N side quite regularly arranged. The date must be about 1225. In this and all the other buildings the most remarkable feature is the extensive use of brick dressings - and brick which is definitely not Roman. It is supposed to be the earliest medieval brickwork in England.

St Nicholas' Chapel (2)

In a delightful pastoral scene on the other side of the Blackwater is a perfect little chapel of the 13th century; we come to it by a brick bridge which has been here 700 years, perhaps the oldest brick bridge in the country. Dedicated to St Nicholas, patron saint of travellers, the chapel stood at the gate of a monastery. It is of interest on its own account and also for the small pink bricks forming the arches of the windows, the piscina, and the sedilia; the bricks are also at the threshold of the doorway where they are cut and shaped into a pattern. These bricks are under two inches thick and are the earliest known in England since Roman days; it is believed that they were made at Tylkell* on the north boundary of the county.

Fading away at the back of the sedilia in this little chapel is a consecration cross marking the place where the bishop put his hand on the wall 700 years ago. It was because the chapel was used as a barn that it escaped the fate of the great church of the abbey at the Dissolution. Not a stone of that church remains to be seen, but its Norman foundations have been traced and found to measure 70 yards long with a width of 80 feet across the transepts.

A group of farm buildings here is of very great interest. One dates from about 1200 and has roof beams 400 years old; and there is a 13th century wing connected by a two-storeyed corridor to a 16th century house built from the ruins of the monastery. The columns and arches we come upon as we wander through this quaint rambling house suggest that the old monks were building for all time. 

* Tilkey, adjoining Coggeshall, seems not to be another case, though it lies between Robin's Brook and the Blackwater. Apparently, its name is a corruption of Tylkell, meaning Tile kiln (see Beaumont, Hist. of Coggeshall, p. 113: 1890).


Monday, 25 March 2013

Bicknacre, Essex

As well as the remnant of the priory Bicknacre also hosts two rather strange chapels - St Andrew and St Giles.

St Andrew (1)
St Andrew

St Giles (2)
St Giles

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Blackmore End, Essex

St Mary the Virgin is a redundant Victorian building which has been sold for conversion into a private residence - it's no great loss.

Neither Mee nor Pevsner mention it.

St Mary the Virgin

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Brentwood, Essex

Brentwood has the last three in area southerly churches remaining - Brentwood RC Cathedral, St Thomas of Canterbury and the ruined Chapel of Thomas a Becket.

They can be summed up thus:

SS Mary & Helen (the Cathedral) - the original 1861 building hideous, the 1989/1991 building splendid.

St Thomas of Canterbury - execrable.

Chapel of Thomas a Becket - an odd survival (in that it was never developed on) and interesting.

ST THOMAS. By E. C. Lee, 1882-90. Large and serious, flint with a tall NW steeple; spire with four spirelets. The interior is E.E., competent but rather dull, but the outside has certain mannerisms which are reminiscent of such a younger man as E. S. Prior. The flints are of pebble size, and the buttresses as well as the stair turret are semicircular in plan. It gives the exterior a curiously primeval flavour.

ST THOMAS'S CHAPEL, High Street. Very little left. Some W and N walling of the nave and the stump of the NW tower. C14. Prettily overgrown with ivy. Brentwood could make better use of this accent in a visually not very successful town.

ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL, Ingrave Road. 1861. Ragstone with a polygonal SW turret, of that assertive ugliness which is characteristic of much church work of the sixties. - STAINED GLASS. E window by Mayer of Munich.

Long after Pevsner wrote the above the Cathedral was transformed into something completely different which I think will become, or maybe it already has, a respected piece of architecture:

Brentwood Cathedral began in 1861 as a parish church built in a gothic style.This relatively small building was raised to Cathedral status in 1917. Between 1989 and 1991 the church was enlarged in an Italianate Classical style by Quinlan Terry. The original church building on the south (liturgical east) side was retained.

The new Brentwood Cathedral was dedicated by Cardinal Basil Hume on 31 May 1991. The donors chose to remain anonymous and the money was given solely for this purpose.

Architecturally, Quinlan Terry took his inspiration from the early Italian Renaissance crossed with the English Baroque of Christopher Wren. This, it was felt, would be appropriate for the town and its conservation area, but above all it would provide the right space and light for the liturgy to be celebrated. The cathedral was designed along a square plan, focussed on the high altar, placed in the nave to accommodate the changes in liturgical fashion after the Second Vatican Council.

Work began in 1989 and was completed two years later. The north elevation consists of nine bays each divided by Doric pilasters. This is broken by a huge half-circular portico, which was inspired by a similar one at St Paul's. The handmade traditional Smeed Dean brick of the clerestory leads up to the octagonal lantern, or cupola, the high point both of the outside and inside.

A conscious decision was taken to retain part of the Gothic revival church of 1861 alongside the new classical cathedral. The east elevation juxtaposes the old and the new, linking them through the scale of the 1991 building and the sympathetic use of ragstone and Welsh slate roof tiles.

All the Classical architectural orders are represented in the interior - the four giant Doric pilasters, the Tuscan arcade of arches, the Ionic pilasters of the Palladian windows in the east and west aisles, the Corinthian and Composite influences evident on the cathedral and the organ case.

While the interior of the cathedral has a deliberately 'restrained' feeling to it, richness is to be found in the ceiling. The Roman key pattern and the double guilloche pattern, picked out in gold leaf, are dominant here. All the round-headed windows are in the Classical-Wren style, with clear leaded lights of hand-made glass.

With clear windows on all four sides, the cathedral is flooded with light at any time of the day. This, together with the white walls and stone floor, combines to give a translucent effect which uplifts the spirit and conveys its own sense of the presence of God. The cathedral is lit by brass English Classical chandeliers (one of which was formerly in the church at Epping) and, above the cornice, concealed lighting.

The processional cross is a copy of a medieval design. The figure represents a transitional period in the theology of design where Christ still wears the crown of the Risen Lord, but the corpus is that of the crucified Saviour. The Bishop's chair or cathedra is a tangible sign of his presiding over the diocese. It was made in Pisa, in Nabrassina stone, and has steps of Portland stone. In the centre is the coat of arms of the diocese. The base of the seat is inlaid with slate, to match the floor.

Consecration crosses are incised into the stone of the Doric pilasters that hold up the clerestory. They were anointed like the altar, as a sign that the whole building is dedicated to God.On the feast of the Dedication the candles in front of the gilded crosses are lit. In the east aisle, there are two rooms set aside to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. Opposite them is a crucifix, formerly in the church at Stock, Essex.

Around the arcade are terracotta roundels representing the 15 Stations of the Cross. These were modelled by Raphael Maklouf, the well-known sculptor, who was responsible for the Queen's head on Commonwealth coinage from 1985 to 1997. Their milky glaze perfectly complements the subtlety and intimacy with which the familiar scenes have been expressed.

Cathedral of St Mary and St Helen (2)
Cathedral of SS Mary and Helen

St Thomas of Canterbury (4)
St Thomas of Canterbury

Chapel of St Thomas a Becket (4)
Chapel of St Thomas a Becket

BRENTWOOD. It has much of the old world still left, and its ancient school has memories of two immortal young Englishmen who gave their lives for England. Long famous as a coaching stage on the Roman road from London, Brentwood has a wide main street, fine old houses, gabled buildings from Tudor England, and attractive inns where there was much coming and going 200 years ago. One of the most interesting has a galleried courtyard with an overhanging upper storey and 500-year-old timbers. Another inn has an Elizabethan roof, and a room with a plaster ceiling panelled and enriched with birds and beasts and men in pleated skirts.

In a garden only a step from the street we come to what is left of Brentwood’s old church, a chapel to Thomas Becket founded by one of the abbots of St Osyth. The lowest storey of its little tower is here, with some fragments of the nave, and the doorways suggest that the masonry still standing is 14th century work. There are two modern churches, one with a tall spire and at its entrance sculptures of Our Lord and the Evangelists, the Wise Virgins, and the martyrdom of Becket; the other (St George’s) a 20th century memorial to an old vicar. It is a striking place and is not yet complete, designed by Mr Laurence King in the spirit of the new movement for making churches appealing to the new generation. It has a spacious sanctuary, processional aisles to the nave, and a lady chapel. Every seat has an unbroken view of the altar. The lighting is indirect and throws no shadows. One of the unusual features of St George’s is an outdoor pulpit at the east end, facing the road; the pulpit has a canopy with a stone crucifix which can be automatically floodlit.

Brentwood is rightly proud of its public school, founded by Sir Anthony Browne in 1557. Its original charter was signed by Philip and Mary on a summer’s day in that year, and the date 1568 is still over the door of the Big School, which remains from the ancient buildings. The fine group of modern buildings stretches from the London Road to Shenfield Common on the outskirts of Brentwood; they include a memorial hall built after the Great War, a spacious 19th century chapel extended in the 20th century, with three aisles, neat open rafters, dignified seats, and an attractive group of lancets in the east window.

Sir Anthony Browne, though he was Queen Mary’s right-hand in the bitter persecution of the Protestants, founded his school to teach “virtue, learning, and manners,” and it would thrill him with pride to know how well his school has fulfilled this high ideal.

It was from Brentwood School that there went out to join the RAF the young airman who wrote to his mother a farewell letter first published in The Times and afterwards in most of the newspapers of the English-speaking World. His name was kept secret, but everybody who read the letter of the unknown airman was deeply moved, and it was felt that it expressed nobly but with great simplicity the feeling of the nation at the time of the Deliverance of Dunkirk, where this young man fell. We are permitted to say that he was a scholar of Brentwood School, where his portrait (by Frank Salisbury) will hang for generations as an example of the character this school is making for our country.

We have no room to give the airman’s letter, written before he set out on the raid from which he did not return, but in it he declared himself lucky to be the right age and fully trained to throw his weight into the scale for England. Those who serve England, he said, must expect nothing from her; we debase ourselves if we regard our country merely as a place in which to eat and sleep. He would have lived and died an Englishman and nothing else mattered. He had no fear of death and would have it no other way:

The universe is so vast and so ageless that the life of one man can only be justified by the measure of his sacrifice. We are sent to this world to acquire a personality and a character to take with us that can never be taken from us.

There is a marble obelisk on a green lawn at the cross-roads in memory of William Hunter, and tradition would have us believe that he was burned to death near the old elm in front of the school. He was a London apprentice in the days of Mary Tudor, and came to live with his father at Brentwood, where, finding a Bible lying on a desk, he learned to read it. They took him to Bishop Bonner for “meddling with the scriptures,” and the bishop, liking him well, offered to make him a freeman in the City and give him £40 to set up a business if he would recant; but he said, “I thank you for your great offer; notwithstanding, my lord, I cannot find in my heart to turn from God for the love of the wor1d.” It was arranged that he should be burned, and on the day of the burning the sheriff's son came to this apprentice boy (who was 19) to bring him comfort, but could speak little for weeping. They brought him a letter from the queen promising him life if he would recant, but William rose and went to the stake, to which he was chained. He cried out, “Son of God shine upon me,” and immediately the sun shone, and the people were much moved as he lifted up his hands in the flames.


Saturday, 9 March 2013

Cheshunt, Hertfordshire

I'm going to try hard to be impartial about St Mary the Virgin but it's quite difficult when it was the only church, out of twelve visited, that was open...

Is it a great church? Not really but it is interesting when compared with the other churches of the trip. I saw no sign of the brasses mentioned by both.

ST MARY. Built between 1418 and I448 by the then Rector of Cheshunt (who was also a Baron of the Exchequer), and important as a dated example of the Perp style in Herts. All-embattled. W tower of ashlar stone with taller SE stair-turret and low buttresses, W door with spandrels decorated with shields and three-light W window. The aisle windows have depressed arches, three lights, and elementary panel tracery. The five-bay arcade inside on piers consisting of four shafts and four hollows in the diagonals. Broad two-centred arches. Two-light clerestory windows. The stencilled and painted decoration of the nave belongs probably to the restoration of 1874 under Bodley. - PLATE. Chalice, 1638; Flagon, 1638; Paten, 1672. - MONUMENTS. Unimportant Brasses E end of N aisle and E end of nave, C15, 1609, and 1449. - Robert Dacres d. 1543, tomb-chest in recess in the chancel, the superstructure remodelled by Sir Thomas Dacres in 1643. - Henry Atkins d. 1638, physician to James I and Charles I, under arch similar to the previous. one, but with draperies tied round the flanking columns. - Margaret Watton d. 1675, small standing wall monument crowned by an urn. At the foot an inscription in Greek. - Daniel Dodson d. 1747, life-size figure nonchalantly leaning on an urn, back wall with garlands hanging down to the l. and r. By the younger W. Woodman.

St Mary the Virgin (3)

S aisle window (2)

Dodson memorial from 1689 (4)

Cheshunt. We should come to it in rose time, for its roses are not to be forgotten; but indeed it is a place to draw the traveller any time. Old Temple Bar for one of its gateways, the hall of Cardinal Wolsey’s old home, a noble 15th-century church, several timbered houses from the past standing out among hundreds of new ones, all these it has, and more, for on its outskirts is Waltham Cross, raised by Edward I to mark the place the body of his beloved Eleanor rested on its last journey from Nottinghamshire to Westminster.

Hertfordshire has gathered to itself this famous relic, though Waltham Abbey, with which the Cross is historically linked, is over the Essex border. This is perhaps the best of all the crosses set up to mark the place where the body of Queen Eleanor rested on its way to Westminster, where she lies in the Confessor’s Chapel, her lovely tomb protected by the beautiful grille made by one of the famous craftsmen of this countryside, Thomas of Leighton over the border. Twelve crosses were set up to mark her resting-places, the first at Lincoln, the last at Charing, and Waltham Cross and one outside Northampton are still monuments of splendour. It is believed that  Waltham Cross was designed by William Torel, the goldsmith who made the queen’s tomb. The cross, now in the care of the Ministry of Public Building and Works, stands on modern steps and is fashioned in stone with three stages, the first stage being original 13th-century work, and all above it rebuilt twice in the 19th century from the old materials. The first stage has six panelled and traceried sides with slender buttresses at the corners and a charming sculptured cornice. The second stage is an elaborate piece of carving, with three statues of Queen Eleanor under canopies with carved finials; the queen is holding her sceptre and all the statues are original and complete except for the loss of one head, which has been made new. Rising above the third stage is an elegant pinnacle set on a dainty base and crowned with a cross.

The most ancient of Cheshunt’s national monuments is the church, but curiosity takes most of us first to Theobalds Park to see old Temple Bar. For two centuries it stood across Fleet Street, gate to the City, and even today the monarch must wait where it stood to receive the sword of the City and give it back to the Lord Mayor before he enters. It has been decked with gold for royal processions and hung with black for Nelson’s funeral, and many a gruesome head has been stuck on it for the wind to batter and the rain to beat. But it got in the way of the traffic, and towards the end of last century it came down. Its stones were numbered and after it had lain some time uncared for the owner of Theobalds, Sir Henry Meux, bought it and set it up here. Christopher Wren designed it, with its central gateway and the smaller round-headed doorways through which six generations of Londoners passed, but the statues in the niches were the work of John Bushnell. Between these statues of three kings and a queen are windows into a room in which a City bank long stored its records.

Only a few fragments remain of the old palace of Theobalds, built by Queen Elizabeth I’s Lord Burghley and accepted by James I in exchange for Hatfield House, for the palace was demolished and three houses have been set up in its place; but we may see part of the old garden wall, and farther afield (at Aldbury Farm) is a bit of the wall which ran ten miles round the royal park in which King James and his children lived. By an irony of fate it was within this wall that James I’s son Charles grew into manhood, and from Theobalds he went to Nottingham to set up his standard on Castle Hill, signal for the Civil War; and it was outside this wall Oliver Cromwell’s son Richard dragged out a weary old age in lodgings for which he paid ten shillings a week.

Cheshunt Great House, once the home of Cardinal Wolsey, is a shadow of its former greatness, with only a fragment left of its moat, but it has still the panelled hall with the same splendid 15th-century timber roof under which the cardinal himself used to sit down to dine.

The common, which once covered acres of the high ground to the north, has dwindled to the little green where stands a rather pathetic old figure, a windmill bereft of its sails. The cawing of the rooks among the chestnuts guides us to the handsome church begun in 1418 and completed after 30 years of devoted care by its rector Nicholas Dixon, whose brass inscription is under the altar table. There are brass portraits of some of his flock, William and Ellen Parke and two other 15th-century women without names, and the kneeling figure of Elizabeth Collen on a brass of 1609.

Apart from two chapels and the south porch, the church is much as Parson Dixon built it, and we may wish he could see it with the beauty of the painted angels in the nave. The new roof resting on the old stone corbels is also painted, adding to the splendour. Here is a big armoured coffer with three locks which has served the church for nearly four centuries, and an old barrel organ with ten tunes on each barrel, still treasured though its day is past. The chancel stalls are a memorial to the men of the Great War, whose names are recorded in gold. By the altar is a great tomb of the Dacres family, the first name on it being that of Robert, Privy Councillor to Henry VIII. The monument to Henry Atkins, physician to two Stuart kings, has been moved to one of the chapels, and near it is a graceful tribute in white marble to a young wife of 24, Margaret Whatton “fair as an angel, virtuous as a saint.”

One of the curates here, John Tillotson, son of a Puritan clothier, rose to be Archbishop of Canterbury. Though his marriage with Cromwell’s niece was no recommendation in those Restoration days, his merit was not to be denied, and men flocked to hear him preach.

There lies in a vault in the church one of the half-forgotten great men of that time, whose father also knew Cromwell; he was Nehemiah Grew the botanist, who crowded into his 71 years of life, which ended here, many botanical discoveries which revolutionised the knowledge of flowers and plants and trees. There lie in the churchyard, also, under a square tomb in the north-west corner, some members of the Cromwell family, one of them an Oliver Cromwell (great-great-grandson) and his daughter Elizabeth Oliveria, the last of the family to bear the surname of the great Protector. The Cromwells had long been familiar figures in Cheshunt, and Richard Cromwell himself here lived out the end of his days when his romance was over.

On stepping down from his high office as Protector, Richard Cromwell went into exile and wandered on the continent for 20 years, when he came back (his wife having been dead five years), took the name of Clarke, and lived with his friend Mrs Pengelly at Cheshunt. There was trouble with his daughters, and an appearance in the courts, but in due course they were reconciled and Richard divided his time between Cheshunt and Hursley in Hampshire, where his daughter Elizabeth lived. At Cheshunt he paid Mrs Pengelly ten shillings a week for his board and lodging, but there were evidently extras, for we find among a bundle of accounts charges for tobacco, brandy, pipes, and a loan of £2 “when you had your feast.” A charge of sixpence is for “repairing your breeches,” 30 shillings for a new hat, and there is an entry for £3 18s. 0d., “money you were pleased to give Tommy on his entrance at the Temple, and a guinea towards buying his law books.” Richard appears to have spent half a crown on mourning gloves in honour of the memory of Queen Mary. One of the most pathetic things ever seen in Cheshunt must have been the little shagreen trunk of Richard Cromwell, which he gave into the care of Mrs Pengelly with orders that it should be very carefully treated. It was probably the trunk which contained the addresses of congratulation on his accession to power, sent to him from all parts of the kingdom.

Another notable figure in Nonconformity Cheshunt knew in those days - Isaac Watts, who spent a quarter of a century preaching in the town, and here preached his last sermon in a meeting-house which has now vanished. The Crossbrook Street Congregational church is named after him.

Nehemiah Grew, who lies in Cheshunt church, came of a family rich in brains and character; his father, a schoolmaster parson who had suffered bitterly as a Parliament man, personally interceding with Cromwell for King Charles’s life. Nehemiah passed from Cambridge to Leyden, where he was admitted doctor of medicine at 30, practised at Coventry and in London with much success, and began investigations on the digestive system that led to important results. He was a good astronomer, one of the little company watching the stars from the top of the Monument at London Bridge, till its vibrations made observations useless. But it was as a botanist that Grew astonished his generation. He first recognised system, design, and function in trees, plants, and flowers. He began his study of vegetable anatomy when he was 23, and five years later his first paper on the subject was read before the Royal Society. At 36 he was elected secretary of that unique fellowship of learning. Watching the stars, curing his patients, and devoutly applying himself to religious practices, he studied the growths of field and garden as if he had had the leisure of a dozen men. He had a marvellous eye; only by the aid of the microscope were others able to verify the discoveries he made with his unaided sight.

He first revealed the sex of flowers and explained the purpose of stamen and pistil. He explained the growth of roots and the way Nature builds tree trunks, and he pointed out the resin ducts in the pine. He anatomised leaves and seeds, the composition of fruits, the nature of plant hairs, the sap channels in the vine. In book after book, laboriously written and lavishly illustrated, he poured out new and astonishing knowledge.

Still his professional work went on, still he attended the Royal Society, classifying and describing its rarities in terms of delightful quaintness. He was one of the lesser great men of an age of giants. We sometimes get a peep of him in company with Prince Rupert and John Evelyn, but he could have had little spare time for social relaxation. He worked to the end, and died visiting a patient.


Roding Lane Cemetery, Woodford Green

On the way to Waltham Cross I stopped at Roding Lane Cemetery having spotted a row of CWGC headstones - off topic I know - and having recorded them noticed similar shaped headstones which were all of similar design but not of CWGC origins. Looking at them closer it transpired that they were the headstones of the Blitz and later bombings - a first for me - and I found them extraordinarily moving. I suppose that as I move into recording more north east London areas these headstones will become as familiar as CWGC headstones.

Enemy Action 1940 Eva, Eva Ellen & Sylvia Goldring

Enemy Action 1940 Kate, Vera and 2 other Spicers

Barkingside to Perry Green

On Tuesday, taking advantage of decent weather, I finished off the SW quadrant - with the exception of Brentwood and Abridge (which I might give up on) - fully expecting most to be locked and was not disappointed.  It is perhaps a sign of the times that out of 12 churches visited 11 were locked with no keyholder listed and I suspect that the one open church, Cheshunt, was only open because of a toddler group - but that might be an unfair assumption.

It does mean, however, that I can cover 11 churches with one post!

Children's Church
Children's Church, Barkingside

DR BARNARDO'S VILLAGE HOME. Opened 1873 with about four cottages. The management of Dr Bamardo’s Homes could not supply any useful architectural information, except that the CHAPEL dates from 1892 and the AUSTRALASIAN HOSPITAL from 1912 (W. A. Pize).

Holy Trinity (2)
Holy Trinity, Barkingside
HOLY TRINITY, Mossfield Green. 1840 by Blore. Norman in yellow brick, with starved tower on the N side close to the W end. Long Norman lancets, exceedingly long especially at the W end. The chancel added c. 1875.

St Barnabas (2)
St Barnabas, Woodford Green
All Saints
All Saints, Woodford Green
Christ Church (2)
Christ Church, Waltham Cross
HOLY TRINITY (actually Christ Church), towards the N end of the High Street, was built in 1832. It is of yellow brick and has the tall, rather gaunt character of churches of that time. The one-light and two-light Perp lancets (an odd combination) are characteristic. No aisles, no galleries. The E parts were remodelled very well in 1914 by Ayres. Tall double transeptal openings with piers without any capitals. No E window at all, but N and S windows concealed by an arch across the chancel at the entry to the altar-space.

St Clement (3)
St Clement, Turnford
St Cuthbert
St Cuthbert, Rye Park
Whilst in Rye Park I accidentally (a happy TomTom error) stumbled on Rye House Gatehouse which is definitely worth a visit.

St Francis (2)
St Francis, Hunsdon
The redundant stable block of the Rectory was converted into a chapel in the 1960s in order to bring the church (St Dunstan, the parish church, is separated by some distance from the village) back into the heart of the village. It felt like a very Catholic arrangement to me and also rather apt.

Holy Trinity (2)
Holy Trinity, Wareside
HOLY TRINITY, 1841, by Thomas Smith. Of stock brick in the Norman style. Nave, wide transepts with galleries in them, and apse (polygonal outside). In front of the altar rails the Puginesque brass to a vicar who died in 1845.

St Mary (2)
St Mary, Colliers End
The church of St. Mary at Colliers End, a small red brick building, was built as a mission church in 1910 by Mr. E. E. Wickham of Plashes in memory of his wife.

St Thomas (3)
St Thomas, Perry Green
The first 4 are in Essex the rest are in Hertfordshire. Mee mentioned none of them and St Francis comments are mine while Colliers End comes from a Google search; the other comments are from Pevsner. Clicking on the pictures takes you to their Flickr set but there's not much else to see as they're all locked.

Bures, Suffolk

I have been trying on and off for three years to find St Stephen's chapel and finally (almost exactly three years after I first visited Bures) I found it - even with satnav and postcode it's hard to find and it was well worth the wait.

This is a truly interesting building made fascinating by its conversion into a de Vere mausoleum and the fine collection of glass.

ST STEPHEN’S CHAPEL, 1 m. NE. Dedicated in 1218. Lancet windows and three stepped lancets at the E end, shafted inside. Timber-framed W attachment. Thatched roof. In the chapel three MONUMENTS from Colne Priory, Earls Colne, Essex, the church where the de Veres, Earls of Oxford, were buried. Knight with crossed legs, c. 1300. The tomb-chest does not belong. With its deep kneeling niches it appears more likely for a shrine than a monument. The niches have crocketed ogee arches and are separated by narrow niches with crocketed gables for small, extremely well carved figures, unfortunately headless. Early C14. - A de Vere, c. 1370, alabaster. The stars of the de Veres carved on the jupon. Against the walls of the tomb-chest pairs of mourners under broad depressed nodding ogee arches. The tomb-chest was originally broader and accommodated two effigies. - Knight and Lady of c. 1420. Alabaster. The lady wears a horned head-dress. Pet dogs playing at her feet. Against the tomb-chest alternating, rather flat frontal figures of angels holding shields, and tracery strips in two tiers. - Also the lower half of a mid C12 coffin lid with the parallel, flatly carved legs of a figure and a flatly ornamented border. Probably Alberic, first de Vere, Great Chamberlain, d. 1141. - (STAINED GLASS. Various fragments, perhaps also from Earls Colne Priory.)

St Stephen's Chapel (1)

Glass (4)

Bures Dragon (3)

Mee's entry can be found here.

East Bergholt, Suffolk

Both Pevsner and Mee have large entries for St Mary the Virgin  so I'll be brief - I loved it, more for the exterior than the interior but nonetheless this would make it into my top ten in Suffolk.

ST MARY. Eminently picturesque, with its incomplete W tower and the brick gable to its E, crowned by an C18 cupola. The church is entirely Late Perp, partly flint and partly brick. The W tower was begun in 1525 on a sumptuous plan, with a stone base with quatrefoil frieze and a passage through (cf. Dedham, Essex). Broad N and S entrances. The room inside the tower was intended to be vaulted. S aisle of coursed flint, tall three-light windows with tracery, battlements decorated with many shields. The same battlements on the S chancel chapel. Two-storeyed S porch, its entrance again decorated with shields. Polygonal turret in the W angle between porch and aisle. The N aisle is mainly brick and has a pretty polygonal turret at its E end. Simpler four-light windows. Battlements as on the S aisle. Ornate N doorway with canopied niches and again with shields as decoration. When they were still all coloured they must have made a proud and ostentatious display of heraldry. Interior with five-bay arcades. Piers of four-shafts-and-four-hollows section with capitals only to the shafts. Two-centred arches. A new aisle is mentioned in a document of 1442-3. Clerestory of ten windows to the five arches below. - ROOD SCREEN, REREDOS, and STALLS. By Sir T. G. Jackson. - (WEST and NORTH DOORS. Both have linenfold panelling and a central Renaissance baluster.) - EASTER SEPULCHRE. Against the back wall C15 WALL PAINTING of the Resurrection, surrounded by large leaf decoration. - STAINED GLASS. In a S window John Constable Memorial Window by Constable of Cambridge, 1897 (TK); bad. - PLATE. Set 1767; Almsdish 1771. - MONUMENT. Edward Lambe d. 1617. Kneeling figure. Two well-carved angels l. and r. pull away a curtain.

BELL HOUSE. In the churchyard; a unique piece, built probably when the plan for the W tower had been given up. One-storeyed with steep pyramid roof with louvred top. Heavy timbers to support the bells inside. The outside walls are a grille of timbers above a dado. The horizontal timbers woven through the vertical ones.

St Mary the Virgin (3)

Edward Lambe 1617 (1)


EAST BERGHOLT. It is Constable’s village, and for ever therefore a place of pilgrimage. It gave the world two boys who won fame: William Branwhite Clarke, who grew up to find gold in Australia, and John Constable who found the gold at his door. Clarke travelled all over England as a geologist and 15 times visited the Continent, and being at last driven to Australia in search of health he there discovered gold, but kept the knowledge a secret to avert a gold-rush, which he feared would be against the public interest.

It was here that Constable found his inspiration in the common beauty of the countryside. It must have been this church, the glory of its walls, that set him dreaming of beautiful things like Salisbury Cathedral. It must have been these lanes that set him longing to be an artist and to put our countryside into pictures. We know it was the lovely little mill at Flatford that filled him with delight and thrilled him with the love of ancient simple things. His house has gone and it is sad to see no beauty in its place, but these lanes, this splendid church, and Flatford Mill two miles away, are as they were.

With the feeling of the artist stirring within him he must have loved it all. He would love the quaint thatched houses with their marvellous timbers, the old wooden bell-cage in the churchyard which is like no other in the land, and the stately walls and windows and doorways of the church. He would stand at Bergholt Corner and see it much as we see it today. He would wonder at this red brick tower, covered with rubble and faced with flint, which Cardinal Wolsey started in his greatness and left unfinished at his fall. It stands, a broken thing, like a monument to that proud broken life of a man who started as a butcher’s son not far away, became almost master of England, and was struck down in his pride.

It was in this church that Constable met his wife. They waited long and patiently, for there were money troubles, but they were to have 21 years of happy married life, and it was Maria Bicknell, the rector’s granddaughter he met in this church, who inherited a fortune of £20,000 and made it possible for him to give his life to the work which brought him immortality, though it made no money for him.

The church is worthy of its proud association, for it has the stately beauty of the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries, with noble windows, splendid screens, a marble floor in the chancel; but most of all it has an impressive exterior, with a mass of windows and battlements and turrets and doorways, which would give it distinction anywhere and make it peculiarly fitting in this home of beauty. Its walls are flint and stone, and it has richly panelled battlemented parapets adorned with hundreds of tiny arches and shields. There are niches in the chancel buttresses and two little stairway turrets with cone-shaped caps, one leading to a room over the massive south porch, on which is a sundial to which Constable used to look up as he painted the porch: Time passeth away like a shadow, it says. There are three square-headed old doorways, and in two of them still swing their old doors, opening in the middle, with linenfold panelling and a fine band of carving in the centre. It is the north and west doors that are old; the south door has been copied from them.

The great church (it is 40 yards long) is lit by 40 windows, half of them in the clerestory. The windows are precious for the light they give, and only a few are stained. An extraordinary effect comes from the huge crimson cross in the north chapel window. The west window has Faith, Hope, Charity, and Patience in deep rich colours, and there are three big windows with about 50 Bible scenes. A poor window to Constable has the Ascension with the Twelve looking on, and it has a small scene of an artist painting the Madonna and Child. By Constable’s window is a pencil drawing of the church by him, showing the interior in the days when the chancel arch had a gallery resting on eight pillars; the drawing shows the 14th century chancel roof, and is signed in pencil.

In place of the gallery the chancel has now a screen designed by Sir Thomas Jackson, architect of the choir-stalls and the reredos. Beside it is a perfectly charming small screen to the lady chapel, looking medieval but quite new, and between the two screens stands the oak lectern with a figure of John the Evangelist. The lectern is a thankoffering for forty years of happy married life, the chancel screen is a memorial of fifty years of married life, and the screen of the lady chapel is in memory of eighty years of singing in the choir. It is the gift of Mr Mann, who was eighty years a chorister here and gave the church both these fine screens, for himself and for his wife.

The walls have many simple memorials, and one fine monument to Edward Lambe who founded Lambe’s School here and helped to found the church; he kneels in marble at a desk with angels drawing back curtains. A stone in the floor has the name of Abram Constable, the uncle of John’s father; John’s brother Abram has the font in his memory, given by the friend with whom he lived at Windmill House. In the west wall is a curious stone to John Mattinson of whom we are told that he was eleven years a beloved schoolmaster and “then unfortunately shot.” The church chest, said to be about 600 years old, has a carved lid of one piece, secured by three locks.

The north wall of the chancel has an Easter Sepulchre with a painting of Our Lord on the back, and in the floor of the nave is the only brass surviving; it shows Robert Alfounder in his spurs and riding boots with a cloak over his tunic and breeches, ready for a ride, all unruffled by the thought of the Civil War then coming on.

There is a big round-topped chest made before Agincourt from the solid oak of a tree grown in the churchyard, and on the walls is an unlovely but dramatic thing - a bomb; it is one of forty that fell in the parish in the Great War, none of them hurting a single soul. On the roll of honour is a charming small bronze of St George.

The most curious possession of East Bergholt is the old timber bell-cage in the churchyard, with five bells in it which only miss representing five centuries by a few months. The oldest comes from 1450. The next from 1601, and the other three from the 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century. We have seen no other structure like this low square timber bellhouse through whose open beams we peep to see the five great bells. They weigh more than four tons, and carry on the tradition of bells that have been ringing in this strange little house for 400 years. One of them says, My name is Mary; for my tone I am known as the Rose of the World. One has coins of Charles Stuart let into it, and the oldest bell of all says: Here sounds the bell of faithful Gabrielle. It is a desperate business ringing these bells, the ringer grasping the stock of the bell with his hand and catching it again as it swings to and fro.

Such is East Bergholt, but two miles farther along the road is Flatford Mill on the River Stour. We do not wonder that it moved the greatest artist of our countryside, for nowhere has England a sweeter little place. It is all as Constable saw it, the timbered house on the left, Willy Lott’s white cottage in front, the wooden bridge and the mill. It all belongs to the National Trust and is let to the Council for the Promotion of Field Studies. The students come here to watch the life of this Suffolk river - its fish, moles, rats, insect life - and to note the plant life which here grows so richly.

Constable loved this place; here he spent his boyhood until he came to London. We turned the wheel of the old sack-lifter as he used to do. We sat by the great scales on the ledge of the open door looking at the mill wheel as he used to do, and looking across the room we see through the old iron-framed window the lovely 16th century cottage of Willy Lott, little John’s own paradise. We may go over it, opening the very door John Constable opened so many times, looking out on the scene through the windows as he did sometimes (through the original glass). There are great ship’s timbers in the walls ; and in the dairy walls, with their wattle and daub work, are unglazed windows with wooden mullions and one window still with its old glass, for dairy and cheese room windows were not taxed in those days. In the mill itself are some of the iron-framed windows of Constable’s day, and old millstones used as doorsteps, and we may climb up to the little white Hoist, up to which they would raise the corn. Charming it looks up there, and from it we have the very peeps of England that Constable had in the 20 years of his youth, when he had the freedom of this place.

We owe the loveliness of Flatford Mill to two men - to John Constable whose fame inspired the saving of it, and to Mr Thomas Parkington, who found it a ruin and made it fit to be the gate of heaven. Fitting it is that it should belong to the National Trust, for it is a tiny corner of England with a haunting beauty, charming in its simplicity, the loveliest memory we have of the man who made our English beauty famous throughout the world.

John Constable

JOHN CONSTABLE, who gave a new meaning to the art of landscape and set on his canvas the fields and streams, the trees and sky of the English Scene so faithfully that we seem to hear the rustle of the leaves and the gurgle of the water as well as seeing them, was born close to the soil he glorified. He was the son of a wealthy miller who owned water mills at Flatford and at Dedham (in Essex), and at one of these young John Constable actually worked for a year as a miller. But he did better for the mills than that. He painted them, and gave
them immortality.

It is said, and probably with truth, that though he worked hard at the mill he worked harder at sketching and drawing round about Dedham in company with his friend Dunthorne. He had encouragement from Sir George Beaumont of Coleorton, a patron of better known painters than Constable was then or for a long time afterwards. Sir George lent him some paintings of Tom Girtin to copy, and used his influence to have him sent up to London for study. Here it appeared for a time as if his natural genius was to be schooled into a narrow academic tradition. It is certain that he received both encouragement and good advice from Benjamin West, President of the Royal Academy, who did him the best service possible by preventing him from becoming a drawing master.

But Constable’s best adviser was his own untrammelled spirit, which moved him to decline success or popularity if they conflicted with his own ideal of painting landscape as he saw it without fal-de-lals (the very word he used). He wrote that he knew he would some time or other make pictures valuable to posterity, even if he did not reap the benefit of them. For a long time he seemed likely to gain very small benefit from his work, for he was too original, too English, and altogether too unlike anybody else, for he imitated none; and after 20 years’ work he could only make money by copying.

That did not depress him. He went on, and when he was 43 he exhibited at the Academy his landscape The White Horse, a view on the River Stour, which today is one of his titles to fame. It did not win him much fame then, and it was five years before the first breath of triumph came. It came from Paris, where his picture The Hay Wain was exhibited at the Salon, and the French painters acclaimed a new master. They did more, they rendered to him the imitation which is the sincerest form of flattery, and it is not too much to say that Constable’s influence founded a new School in France. But he was never truly popular in England in his lifetime. Ignorant critics unable to appreciate the beauty of the way his sunlight trickles through the leaves and glimmers on the water spoke of Constable’s “snow.” When he was elected an Academician eight years before his death he sadly declared that the honour had come too late. But the National Gallery and the Collection at South Kensington have made the highest reparation possible by hanging his great pictures on their walls. These are his monument.

Withermarsh Green, Suffolk

I don't normally do Catholic churches but I read about Our Lady Immaculate & St Edmund King & Martyr on Simon Knott's Suffolk Churches website and was intrigued so added it to the map. The first thing to say is that it's almost impossible to find even with satnav and a postcode and secondly that it is now privately owned but is still in use. Being a practising Catholic whose place of worship is a recycled shed I'd rather like this to be my parish church.

ST EDMUND (R.C.), Withermarsh Green. Early C19 brick.

Our Lady Immaculate & St Edmund King & Martyr (3)

Mee probably couldn't find it; although to be fair it isn't in a village so doesn't really fall into his remit.

Raydon, Suffolk

St Mary is a tower-less building with a low exterior bellhouse for the bells; it's very plain and simple and I rather liked it.

ST MARY. Mostly late C13 to early C14, see the chancel windows, the nave windows, the N and S doorways, and the Priest’s Doorway (thin shafts and big moulded capitals). On the chancel N side a normal late C13 two-light window with a quatre-foiled circle. The piscina inside has the same design - unusual and handsome. The two chancel S windows have in the tracery a circle with a cusped quatrefoil. Low W bell turret with pyramid roof.* Inside the early C14 date is confirmed, apart from the Piscina, by a low tomb recess on the N side and by the hood-moulds of the chancel windows. - PAINTING. Large ‘Noli me tangere’ by Alessandro Allori. - BRASS. Lower part of a tiny figure with a butterfly head-dress.

* The LG remarks on the V-shaped buttresses, comparing them to Thorpe Morieux.

Elizabeth Reydon 1479

Looking east

Rather bizarrely Mee also missed Raydon - two villages on one trip that he missed hasn't happened before.


Layham, Suffolk

St Andrew felt very airbrushed and rather soulless.

ST ANDREW. Flint, with a brick tower of 1742 (altered c. 1800 ?). It replaces a tower of c. 1300 of which the tower arch remains. The windows of the church are all of the type of c. 1300, but all renewed. - FONT. Hexagonal, of Purbeck marble, with two arched blank panels on each side. - SCREEN. Fragment of the dado with simple traceried panels. - PLATE. Elizabethan Cup and Cover; Flagon 1774; Paten 1796.

Looking east

Chancel N window poss Ward Nixon (1)

Mee missed it.

Hadleigh, Suffolk

St Mary is a beast of a church, impressive in scale and ambition but strangely antiseptic, however, and this is a big however, it's the first church I've visited which has not only a pool table but also a snooker table in the north aisle - this makes it officially brilliant, sadly I didn't warm to it.

There are bits and bobs (particularly the large benchends - one showing St Edmund's head in the wolf's jaws) to enjoy but the whole left me cold. The Deanery Tower and Guildhall are magnificent though.

ST MARY. The church is 163 ft long and has a tower crowned by a lead broach spire, 135 ft high. Externally mostly Perp, except for the tower, which is clearly of the early C14. To the l. and r. of the bell-openings, which have three-light intersected tracery, are circular openings. Of the C14 also a tomb recess in the S aisle (ogee arch cusped); so the S aisle wall is also of that period. There may be more of it (e.g. the chancel walls) but the windows are Perp, large in the aisles, larger still in the E end, where three windows look down Church Street, smaller, in pairs of two of two lights, in the nave clerestory (renewed). At the E end to the N a two-storeyed vestry, vaulted below. S porch of two bays with side windows and three niches above the entrance. The porch was originally vaulted and had an upper floor. Arcade of five wide bays. The piers have polygonal shafts, carrying capitals only towards the arch openings. The clerestory windows are not above the apexes of the arches, but above the spandrels. Chancel arch and two-bay arcades of the chancel chapels of the same type. In the chancel N wall an EASTER SEPULCHRE, simple, Late Perp, panelled above the arch. - FONT. Octagonal with finely detailed blank niches, two to each side, with feigned rib-vaults. - FONT COVER by Charles Spooner, 1925. - SCREENS. Perp, to the N and S chapels. - BENCH END in the S chapel with representation of the wolf finding the head of St Edmund. - DOOR. The S door has tracery and a border of quatrefoils. - ORGAN CASE. A fine large piece of the early C18, brought in 1738 from Donyland Hall (Essex). - STAINED GLASS. Odd bits in the N chapel E window. — S chapel E window (Christ and the Children) by Hedgeland, 1857, very Nazarene. - E window by Ward & Hughes. - PLATE. All silver-gilt: Paten 1685 ; Paten 1730; Cup and two Flagons 1745; Paten 1792.* - MONUMENTS. Three Brasses of 1593-1637. - Sarah Johnson d. 1793 by Regnart. With two putti by an urn. - First World War Memorial. by Charles Spanner.

CHURCHYARD. The church lies on a lawn, and to the S and W sides of this stand the most spectacular buildings of Hadleigh.

DEANERY TOWER, W of the church. Of the palace built by Archdeacon Pykenham in 1495 only the Gatehouse survives, a splendid brick building with polygonal turrets to the entrance and exit sides, the latter starting on corbels. Four-centred archway. The middle part is three-storeyed, the higher turrets have six stages. In the middle on the first floor oriel windows with a canopy on four trefoiled arches. The same trefoiled arches in pairs form the top of each of the panels into which the turrets are divided. Battlements on centre and turrets, on the centres with pinnacles in the middle. The motifs are similar to those used in the far more monumental gatehouse of Oxburgh in Norfolk (1482). The ornate chimneys are of c.1830. In the first-floor room inside a painting of the church, by a local artist, Benjamin Coleman, dated 1629. The room was panelled in 1730. To the l. of the tower first a majestic lime tree and then, in a contemporary Wall, two small stone archways, apparently earlier than the tower. These come from a former second S porch further E than the other. To the r. of the tower the DEANERY, also brick, simple imitation Tudor of 1831, enlarged in 1841. Built with the use of some old materials.

GUILDHALL, to the S of the churchyard. Timber-framed. Of two parts, both C15. The centre is of three storeys, with two overhangs. On the ground floor the characteristic thin buttress posts. To the l. of this the Long Room, the former guildhall proper. It is on the first floor. The ground floor was originally almshouses. To the E of the churchyard CHURCH STREET starts (with good houses on the N side, especially the RED HOUSE) and leads to the main crossroads of Hadleigh.

* Hadleigh possesses the earliest church BELL in Suffolk, probably of the late C13.

Bench end (2)

North aisle window (2)

Deanery Tower

HADLEIGH. It is one of those Suffolk corners we do not forget, with a fascinating group about the church: the marvellous walls of the church itself, the ancient timbered guildhall, the medieval houses, and the deanery tower with its age-long dignity and its pathetic memory. The windows, the roofs, the lovely chimneys, blend with as fine a group as we could wish to see, and it is the picture we remember of Hadleigh - this and its long street of old inns and houses, carved brackets and plaster fronts and overhanging eaves, and especially the old almshouses built by William Pykenham, with their little 15th century chapel, which still has benches on which the Darbys and Joans of Hadleigh have sat for many generations.

In the streets of this old town have walked many boys who grew up to serve their generation well. John Overall was one of the makers of the Authorised Version of the Bible; Joseph Beaumont and William Alabaster were both poets; Thomas Woolner was the sculptor whose bust of Tennyson is in Westminster Abbey. But most famous of all the men of Hadleigh is the heroic Rowland Taylor, who was rector here for 11 years before they burned him on Aldham Common outside the town, in 1555. There is a monument to him on the common telling us that in defending what was good he at this place left his blood; and it is the chief interest of the deanery tower that the brave martyr hid himself in its tiniest chamber, where he must have spent some of the happiest and some of the most anxious hours of his life.

The tower was built by Archdeacon Pykenham in 1495 as the gatehouse of a parsonage which then stood near the river. It is a fine red brick place with panelled and battlemented turrets, inside one of which we may climb up to the oriel-windowed rooms above the gate. We come also up these steps into the lovely little vaulted oratory which has a secret way into the small chamber where Dr Taylor hid; if we are privileged to come to the deanery (a fine 19th century gabled house built on to the gateway) we may see the trapdoor through which he would creep.

It was in one of these rooms that the Oxford Movement began at a conference called by Dean Rose; the conference decided on the issue of the famous Tracts for the Times which made a great stir in the country. In one of the gatehouse rooms is a picture by Canaletto; it is of his native Venice and is said to have been painted here.

From the window of the gatehouse we look across to the timber-fronted guildhall, which saw the great prosperity of this woollen town from the Middle Ages up to the 17th century, having been the meeting-place of five guilds which existed here.

The great church, one of the spectacular buildings of Suffolk, is the fifth church of the county in size, the work of our three great building centuries but mostly of the 15th. Its great windows run in two rows from end to end of the chancel and the nave. The narrow tower is 64 feet high with a spire of 71 feet which has been here since the 14th century and covered with lead in our time. The tower is 700 years old, and one of the eight bells has been ringing since its earliest days.

We come in through two fine doors which have been on their hinges about 500 years. The wagon-headed roof of the nave is of last century; the chancel roof is old with bosses and grotesques and rich tracery. There are two elegant open screens in the aisles, medieval panelling in the finely vaulted vestry, and old bench-ends, on one of which we noticed a grotesque animal with folded wings and an ornamented collar, wearing a hood. It is holding a man’s head by the hair and is an extraordinary piece of work, supposed to represent the story of King Edmund, whose head was found near a wolf after the king had been decapitated by the Danes. It is believed that a beautiful 14th century tomb in the south aisle stands near the place where the Danish king Guthrum was buried in 889.

There is another lovely tomb in the sanctuary about 500 years old, thought to be that of Archdeacon Pykenham. The fine font comes from the same days, but it has a remarkable cover in memory of John Overall; it is 16 feet high. In a few fragments of old glass are the arms of four Archbishops of Canterbury, and in a window of the south wall is a group of scenes in the life of Rowland Taylor, showing him walking with a friend, preaching to his people, and standing bravely in white at the stake.

On the wall opposite his window is a 17th century brass with a rhymed epitaph to him in 20 lines; they have been engraved on the back of a Flemish brass of 1500, the Flemish engraving showing a civilian with long hair, wearing a triple chain. Other brasses of the 16th and 17th centuries show Bishop Still and his wife, John Alabaster, and Richard Glanfield and his wife, a quaint couple of Charles Stuart’s days, holding hands and wearing ruffs, she in a wide-brimmed hat.

There is a memorial to the 111 men who did not come back from the war, a charming relief of a mother and child, and a font cover, all by the same artist, Charles Sydney Spooner, who worked under the inspiration of William Morris.

The Pitiful Fate of a Scholar

ROWLAND TAYLOR was a Northumbrian, born in the beginning of the 16th century and distinguished as a scholar at Cambridge. He was brought up a Roman Catholic, but the preaching of Hugh Latimer started a doubt in his mind, and he became chaplain to Cranmer and a Protestant. Cranmer appointed him to Hadleigh, one of the first places in England where the Reformation began to quicken, and this man of good will and good works was the best loved parish priest in Suffolk.

But all was changed with the coming of Mary Tudor. Hearing the bell of his church ringing on a day when the building was supposed to be closed, Taylor hurried to find a strange priest celebrating mass, with two Roman Catholic parishioners for his congregation. The firm protest of the rector was followed by his being thrust out of the church, the door was locked in his face, and a report of his prohibition of the mass forwarded to the Bishop.

Summoned before Bishop Gardiner, he was brutally badgered and ill-used, but preserved an unruffled calm, appealing to the laws of Edward the Sixth and greatly reminding the terrible Chancellor of his own breach of the oath. Both Gardiner and Bonner pursued him with bitter malevolence, and found delight in stripping him and having the garments of a Roman Catholic priest forcibly put on him. He was sentenced to death.

He began his last journey in the middle of the night, but in the darkness his wife and their little children found him, cry answering cry in the gloom of the shrouded city streets. Four yeomen of the guard were his escort, three of them often in tears for his sake, the fourth a ruffian. The journey ended. “What place is this?” asked Taylor, and when they told him it was Aldham Common, and that there he was to suffer, he exclaimed. “Thanked be God; I am even at home.” The stake was ready, and Taylor, stripped to his shirt, gave away his clothes to those about him. When he began to speak to the sorrowing multitude the fourth yeomen struck him a heavy blow on the head.

Ordered to light the fire, one of the villagers pretended lameness, but others were forthcoming as the martyr stepped into a pitch barrel and was chained by the waist to the stake. As the flames leapt up he began to pray aloud, and with hands folded across his breast submitted to the fire, uncomplaining.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Kersey, Suffolk

St Mary is perched high over its pretty village and is, despite to my eyes a rather heavy handed Victorian restoration, magnificent. From north aisle bosses, tower corbels, rood dado, a dodo lectern (at least it looks more like a dodo than eagle to me), a fantastic font along with an even older one in the north chapel, some great niches, remnants of medieval stonework, damaged but still good roof angels and a south porch to die for this is a must have church and I forgot to mention the badly preserved wallpaintings.

Kersey is the most picturesque village of South Suffolk. The view from the church over the tiled roofs of the houses dipping down to the ford of the river Brett and climbing up the other side is not easily forgotten. The church lies on its own at the S end of the village, which is just one long street with an extension by the stream.

ST MARY. Dates are recorded for the completion of the N aisle (1335) and of the W tower (1481). Both fit the stylistic evidence. Dec N aisle - see the windows under their almost straight-sided arches and the four-petal motif in the tracery, and the fine, broad, ogee-headed niche between two of them inside. Niches also flank the E window. The chancel windows are Dec too, but the chancel was rebuilt in 1862. Are they correctly renewed? Lying between the two are the Sedilia and Piscina of the aisle, one straight-headed composition with four ogee headed vaulted niches. One of the vaults has miniature ribs. The backs of the three Sedilia niches are open in windows to the chancel. Can this motif be original? The N arcade is also of the same period. The piers are octagonal, the arches have one chamfer and one double-wave moulding. Hood-moulds to nave and aisle with pretty fleurons and leaf trails. Finally the aisle roof resting on a uniquely elaborate stone wall-plate, unfortunately ill-preserved. It clearly tells a long story, but what story has not yet been recognized by any student. The roof of the E chapel is ceiled with four big Elizabethan or Jacobean stucco panels. In spite of all these contributions of the early or mid C14, the effect of the church is Perp, thanks to the big W tower, the porches, and most of the windows. The tower has diagonal buttresses with four set-offs. On them long flushwork panels. Battlements with flushwork tracery. Big W doorway. Three-light W window with transom, flanked by fiushwork panels. Also niches l. and r. Bell-openings of three lights with transom. S windows Perp. S porch of two bays with flushwork and pinnacles. Inside the S porch ceiling with sixteen very delicately traceried panels. N porch similar but a little simpler. Perp clerestory, the roof with alternating long arched braces meeting at the collar-beam and hammerbeams.

FURNISHINGS. FONT. A slightly elongated octagon; Perp. Stout stem with quatrefoils. Bowl with four demi-figures of angels. - SCREEN. Dado of the screen to the N chapel, with six painted early C15 figures, not of high quality. - LECTERN. Wooden shaft with thin buttresses and flying buttresses. - WEST DOOR with tracery and a trail border. - SCULPTURE. Fragments of an alabaster altar, e.g. Trinity. Also good bearded heads probably from a reredos (cf. St Cuthbert Wells). From the same perhaps the seated figure of St Anne. - WALL PAINTING. St George and the Dragon, high up on the S wall. - PLATE. Paten 1711 ; Cup, Paten, and Flagon 1791.

Dado (1)

Font (1)

South porch ceiling

KERSEY. We go down into Kersey and up out of it; it lies up and down its two hillsides, set in something like a natural letter V, with the church looking down from one hill and lovely timbered houses creeping up the other, a brook rippling between, and gardens everywhere. No traveller can be disappointed here, with all these legacies from Tudor England and this superb piece of country-planning by Nature herself.

Kersey lives in literature without any literary reason why, for it has given its name to a cloth which was famous centuries ago. It is mentioned in an Act of Parliament of Edward the Sixth, which fixes the standard of this cloth, and Kersey cloth comes into poetry more than once or twice and three times into Shakespeare, who twice mentions it as cloth (in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Measure for Measure) and once pays this village a high compliment by saying that he will express himself “in russet Yeas and honest kersey Noes.” Up and down this steep street, and over the stream which crosses it, the villagers of the great wool days would bring in their packs, and in these timbered houses would weave it into the enduring ribbed material which made them rich and gave a word to our language.

At the top of the street, facing the hill crowned by the church, is a wood the old weavers must have loved. Under the lofty trees in front of Priory Farm are the ruins of the tower, an aisle, a transept, and the west wall of the great church of the 12th century priory.

The church of today is 14th and 15th century. It has handsome buttresses, many of them niched and pinnacled, balancing an exterior over which rises a noble 15th century tower with battlements adorned with traceried and flinted panels. The south porch has a fine old roof carved with tracery and flowers. The nave reminds us of a tragedy which ended an architectural epoch, for it was left unfinished when the Black Death of the 14th century carried to the grave so many of the men who built the exquisite churches of those days. The nave arcade, with its delicate arches supported by slender octagonal pillars and its capitals with moulding and daintily carved foliage, was left unfinished when plague carried off the old artists at their work. The richly carved font, with angels on its panels, probably served at the christening of those craftsmen, for it is 600 years old, as is the impressive stone frieze, with scenes from the life of Christ, running under the roof of the north arcade. Under trefoil panelling in a chapel are fine 15th century stone seats which, like the piscina, have pinnacled arches with birds in the spandrels ; and here, under a plaster roof showing roses and sheaves of corn, is a wall recess in which is a broken alabaster sculpture. Vaulted niches by the window, one with St Anne sitting in a gilded robe, have traces of ancient colour.

The men who carved the birds and vines on the modern lychgate may have found inspiration for their work from the timber within. With a stout old chest banded with iron the church has two rare treasures of the woodworker’s art, a 15th century lectern with a beautifully carved eagle, as prim as a parson, holding the Bible on its upturned wings and tail. The eagle rests on an orb supported by graceful flying buttresses; and the lower panels of a grand old screen have three sceptred kings in ermine capes, and three prophets in ermine gowns. In the tracery above them are hanging flowers.


Lindsey, Suffolk

Just down the road from St Peter is the C13th Chapel of St James. Maintained by English Heritage it is strongly reminiscent of three other chapels of similar age I've visited: St Helen in Wicken Bonhunt, Duxford Chapel and the Leper Chapel in Cambridge and, less so to Harlowbury and the Abbey Church in Cambridge.

It's always fascinating to see these early chapels and even more so when you can access them; the simplicity of the design, and the fact that they are still extant, lends them a special presence.

ST JAMES'S CHAPEL. Early C13, with lancet windows. The S wall is in its original state, with lancet windows and a doorway with one slight chamfer. Piscina late C13 (pointed-trefoiled arch). W doorway Early Tudor brick.

St James' Chapel (3)
St James, Lindsey

St Helen's Chapel (1)
St Helen, Wicken Bonhunt

The Leper Chapel of St Mary Magdalene (2)
Leper Chapel, Cambridge

Duxford Chapel
Duxford Chapel, Whittlesford

St James' Chapel (4)
St James, Lindsey

Duxford Chapel, Whittlesford

Harlowbury Chapel (3)
Harlowbury Chapel, Essex

Abbey Church (3)
Abbey Church, Cambridge

LINDSEY. It has spacious views from its churchyard and from the moated mound called Lindsey Castle, a relic of the days when small places like this were fortified by such earthworks as are found here. It had a monastery of which something remains after 600 years, for not far off is a farmhouse built from its ruins, with the great beams in the kitchen, an old fireplace, and a little chapel which is a chapel no more, but has been neatly thatched and is much cared for. It is scheduled as a national monument and its thatched roof was paid for by the country.


Lindsey, Suffolk

Last week I finished off, apart from the pesky Little Bradley, the north west quadrant and revisited Toppesfield which now lists a keyholder.

I started the day at St Peter which externally looked unpromising - various different renders don't do it any favours - but the interior is excellent, light floods in and there's plenty of interest with graffiti, a good rood dado, an excellent pulpit and an all over sense of place. Oh and a very good font.

ST PETER. The W tower was removed in 1836 and replaced by a weather boarded bell-turret. Early C14 church, see the segment headed S aisle and chancel Windows. In the nave on the N side a specially handsome straight-headed two-light window with intersected top like the famous C13 piscinas of Jesus and St John’s Colleges at Cambridge.* The window has shafts and niches in the jambs inside, and a second of the same type further W is blocked. Simple C14 timber S porch. Arcade inside C14 with octagonal piers and double chamfered arches. Roof with tie-beams and kingposts. - FONT. Of c. 1300. Intersected arches with, in the spandrels, a circle, an encircled trefoil, a trefoil, etc. - SCREEN. Fragment of the dado with traceried panels. - BOX PEWS. - BENCH with traceried front and poppyheads. - COMMUNION RAIL. Three-sided, late C17. - ORGAN CASE. Pretty and probably early C19.- (WALL PAINTINGS. On nave and S aisle walls. Recently discovered. LG) - PLATE. Elizabethan Cup and Cover.

* And those of Hardingham and Pulham St Mary in Norfolk.

St Peter (2)

 South arcade (2)


LINDSEY. It has spacious views from its churchyard and from the moated mound called Lindsey Castle, a relic of the days when small places like this were fortified by such earthworks as are found here. It had a monastery of which something remains after 600 years, for not far off is a farmhouse built from its ruins, with the great beams in the kitchen, an old fireplace, and a little chapel which is a chapel no more, but has been neatly thatched and is much cared for. It is scheduled as a national monument and its thatched roof was paid for by the country.

The church of today is a 14th century structure which has lost its tower and has a bellcote in its place. The old timbered porch brings us into a simple nave which has an arcaded font at which Lindsey’s little ones have been christened for 700 years.