Monday, 31 October 2016

Rattlesden, Suffolk

St Nicholas approached from the south east is picture perfect, I'm sure it appears on a chocolate box or two. A large but rather sterile interior contains some good windows, some interesting screens and chancel and nave roofs but overall I was rather underwhelmed. The exterior and location do lift it out the mundane however.

ST NICHOLAS. On a slight eminence in the middle of the village. Quite big, with a Dec w tower with clasping polygonal buttresses and a shingled broach-spire. Finely detailed S doorway of c. 1300 with a circular window over. In the window a cusped quatrefoil. The S aisle and the clerestory (which has single, not double windows per bay) are given battlements decorated with lozenges and shields. Pretty SE spirelet. The S porch has the same battlernents. On the N side the aisle also has them; the clerestory battlements are simple. The S porch has a fine stone-faced facade with a tall entrance. The front is panelled and has one niche above the entrance. (Early C16 chancel chapel with room over. LG) Wide interior. C14 arcades of five bays with octagonal piers, decorated with blank cusped arches at the top, and arches with two hollow chamfers. Good C14 AUMBREY in the chancel N wall. Arched top, crocketed gable, and pinnacles. The tower arch is triple-chamfered. The arch dies into the imposts. The nave roof has double hammer-beams. Unfortunately the angel figures, also those of the arch-braced lean-to roofs in the aisles, are nearly all C19. Below the roof the nave has a large E window. - FONT. C14, octagonal.  Panels with thickly decorated ogee arches resting on heads. Castellated top. - SCREEN. Six parts of the dado are preserved under the tower arch. Painted panels, almost unrecognizable, in the back wall of the C19 Sedilia. - PULPIT. Jacobean. - BENCHES. Some with poppy-heads. - COMMUNION RAIL. Later C17, re-used in several parts. - STAIN ED GLASS. Original bits in the W window and the second N window from the E. - E window by Clayton & Bell, 1884. - PLATE. Elizabethan Cup; Flagon 1729; Paten 1731.

St Nicholas & Old Moot House

South porch

Chancel window W Atkinson 1928 (2)

RATTLESDEN. Its church is supposed to have been founded 700 years ago by the monks of Bury. The high tower comes from the original building, the nave parapet is battlemented in flint and stone, and extraordinary gargoyles look down from the clerestory, among them huge faces with fat cheeks, sleepy and smug. Below the rich cornice of the nave is a frieze carved with angels.

St Nicholas greets us from a Tudor porch as we come in to admire the fine woodwork of this old place, much of it modern but all in keeping with the 14th century arches, the dignified 17th century pulpit, and the medieval font with its handsome tracery and eight heads. The splendid nave roof has 66 angels with outstretched wings, and in one of the aisle roofs is the last of the oak angels from the original roof. One of his wings has gone, but he still carries a shield. The finest bit of modern craftsmanship here is the beautiful screen with its vaulted roodloft. The wide cornice is handsome with foliage, and delicate tracery hangs down like lace. A delightful screen in the same style connects this masterpiece with the stone stairway in the aisle wall, up which the priest would climb to give out the good news.

There is much woodwork from Tudor times, the panelled base of the old screen being now under the 13th century tower arch. Other parts are in front of the choir-stalls; and there are old bench-ends with their fine poppyheads, one showing a head with four faces. Three Tudor doors are connected with the 15th century vestry, which once had an upper room. One leads to it from within, the others belong to the old staircase. The village treasures a solid silver chalice from the same time.

Scraps of old glass make a patchwork in the tower, and a peace memorial window shows St George standing on the dragon and David with his sling ready for Goliath. On the list of rectors we noticed that James Oakes served the church for 53 years last century, preaching at the end of his life to Zachariah Howes, whose memorial says he was a ringer and a singer for 62 years.

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