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Friday, 25 July 2014

St Mary's Priory church, Bungay


Visiting this church turned out to be a really joyous occasion. It is kept in immaculate condition and is set in the middle of a delightful churchyard in the town centre, where a path runs from one side of the churchyard to the other, connecting two busy roads.
Originally this church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Cross was   built in 1160 for an order of Benedictine nuns.

Early in the C15 the original C12 nave was replaced by a more extravagant one.
And an elegant  90’ tower was added c1470 , which has octagonal buttresses at each corner and near the base there is stone flushwork. There are carved leopards *look out guards* on the parapet. The two storey porch was also added about this time.

The townspeople were allowed to use this church until the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry V111 in the mid C16. Only the nave and aisles were kept as a church while the rest of the monastery was left to decline and fall into disrepair. Extensive remains of the old priory are to be seen at the East end of the church, including the long C13 chancel wall

The church interior furnishings of worth were either confiscated or destroyed by the puritans c 1643, and great damage was caused to the fabric of the church, especially to the tower and south aisle during a devastating fire to the town in March 1688.
…The church was repaired and reopened in 1701, complete with a new roof to the south aisle and  box pews were added in the nave shortly after.
…During the mid-late C19 further restoration took place, which is more or less how we see the interior today….
Entry into the church is via the spacious north porch….
 The interior of the church is a huge space with no chancel arch to distinguish the chancel from the nave…



Splendid C14 arcading separates the north and south aisles from the nave. Clerestory windows help to provide much light into the church.







  The C15 timber roof in the north aisle is particularly lovely with it’s carved bosses.
.


  The tall impressive 1860 arcaded stone reredos featuring coloured texts of the ten commandments is below the lofty East window






... this window  was set up high so it would look out above and beyond the nuns priory quarters




The previous galleries had been taken down, and early C20 oak benches now replaced the earlier box pews.
    
 The pulpit from the early C18 is plain but pleasing to the eye.
    
 Many memorial plaques of local residents over the years adorn the walls of the church and there are some C18 ledger-slabs to be found in the floor of the aisles.



    A gorgeous *dole cupboard* dated 1675 stands in the porch,…this is where bread was left for collection by the poor and needy.









...and a chest dated 1680 can be found in the north aisle sanctuary





A wonderful early medieval font is on display in the porch, as is the remains of a medieval wayside cross.
                                      
 A newer font is C18 and has a splendid cover which is suspended from the ceiling

   This church has been in the care of the Church Conservation Trust since 1981. It had become imprudent to keep open two churches within close proximity. So a decision was made that this large church should become redundant for general worship and the smaller C12 Holy Trinity church would become the sole parish church for Bungay.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

St Margaret's church Stoven


 I had been warned beforehand not to expect too much from this church, as it wasn’t the best work the Victorians had undertaken in restoration.

So I was quite pleasantly surprised when I entered the church through the heavily restored North Norman doorway…the South Norman doorway is more impressive and inspirational having hardly been touched, and  has the remains of a scratch dial on it’s adjacent church wall.

        South doorway

At a cursory glance the structure of the church looks quite appealing, and it’s only on closer inspection that the flaws become evident, as some of the mid C19 work seems a little crudely done in places. The Victorian restorers here at  Stoven, for whatever reason – (possibly they wanted a continuity in style) decided to imitate the Norman way of doing things….sadly it could have been done better.



Inside the building is narrow with plastered ceilings and has a large elegant chancel arch.












In the chancel there are Decalogue boards on either side of the East window.





The pew benches, choir stalls and the square pulpit are solid and  pleasing to the eye.























Oddly, the font actually appears to be from an early date, although curiously it looks as if it’s made up from stone from different eras.





 I found the square flint West tower a little disconcerting, it doesn’t seem to sit comfortably alongside the rest of the church….I need to find out more about when this slim tower was built

St Margarets is a church which in 1990 was saved from redundancy  as a result of a parishioners campaign, so I was disappointed to find there was hardly anything there to excite my curiosity or imagination….but for anyone who just wants to enjoy viewing a church – whatever the style, then I don’t think they will be disappointed in this church nor it's delightful churchyard.






 North side of
         church

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Joining the Bats in St Peter's church. Mundham

It was by sheer chance that I happened to be driving past this church on one of the very few times it is open..The churchwarden was in the churchyard awaiting a visit from the *bat person* for advice on how to protect the church interior from bat urine.
….The church is usually kept locked on account of the numerous thefts from the church.
The church warden saw my interest and kindly allowed me to explore the interior of the church, telling me to take my time writing notes and taking photographs.



The church stands atop of a mound with it’s graveyard sloping down toward the road, and is constructed of flint and rubble, as are so many other churches of this type. The perpendicular tower topped with flushwork battlements appears to be C15 and ‘grew’ to it’s full height through various stages.

My joy at seeing the splendid South Norman doorway became a little muted when I saw the church porch, it was built at a later date and too narrow to have been abutted to the archway correctly.




You can see in picture how the sides of the Norman archway have been lost



After entering the church, to the West at the base of the tower is a relatively modern font which is very plain. In the corner behind is the remains of a square Norman font, and a long niche carved into the North side of the tower wall, is where all church banners were stored. On the opposite tower wall there’s a Tudor brick faced oven which was not discovered until 1931


Modern font

           Norman font





....Opposite the south door the church has a medieval wall painting (possibly of St Christopher) which is unfortunately partially covered by a C19 memorial plaque
The poppyhead carvings on the end of the pews are C15, but I was unable to tell if the pews themselves were from that date also.
The C15 rood screen would no doubt originally looked quite splendid, but sadly it's painted dado panels are now in a distressed state and have lost almost all of their colouring....an hourglass stand is attached to the south side of the screen, this was used to time the length of the preacher's sermons.




In  the chancel's south wall remain a C15 piscina for washing the chalice and the sedilla, where the clergy sat






The beautifully carved reredos  is the work of Mrs Hicks who was a rector’s wife in 1908






 This church has a narrow interior without a chancel arch, which makes it look larger inside than it really is.

 It's a really delightful place to worship. I wished I could have spent longer, but I didn’t want to disturb the *bat person* any longer J





Thursday, 3 July 2014

St Andrew's Raveningham

This area is set in a quiet backwater of rural Norfolk, and is possibly one of the first places the Saxon’s settled when they came to Britain.
The church of St Andrew stands adjacent to the Hall in Raveningham Park, so a leisurely drive through the park with grazing sheep sparing us an indifferent sidelong glance was a pleasant introduction to what lay ahead.

This manor including the church was founded by the Castell family in the medieval era, and was then passed by marriage to the Bacon family who still reside here to this day.

One approaches St Andrew’s via a railed off pathway from the park, and on first impression the church appears quite unremarkable, with it’s outside covered in a putty coloured rendering.




The C12 round tower had an octagonal belfry added atop in the C13 with a further castellated top added in the C15







Considerable restoration work to the church was also carried out in the  C19.




One enters the church by the South door, with it’s three  impressive iron work crosses on it’s face.









The first thing which meets the eye is a huge square marble memorial to Major Edward Hodge who died in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo.









The lovely font is in the familiar C15 style and the pulpit is probably C19
 








Church Interior


The chancel is the most eye catching part of the church. There is a ledgerstone with a splendid Brass depicting Margaret Castell with her hands clasped in prayer-she died in 1483.


Alongside the South wall of the chancel is the tomb of the medieval founder Roger Castell, this lies under a C14 Arch which is extravagantly carved with an excess of foliage.
A series of smaller arches built and decorated in a similar vein are to be found along both the North and South walls of the chancel… each of these contain a memorial plaque to a member of the Bacon family – from 1820  up to the most recent family death in 1982..
                   
                     
                     Early Castell family ledgerstones in the church















                                      war memorial in churchyard

Saturday, 28 June 2014

St Andrew's Church, Framlingham Pigot


When I turned the bend in the road leading to St Andrew’s church I had a surprise – almost a shock at what faced me -  the tower of the church looked like a minaret, rising up toward the sky… this was not what I was expecting to see on a Christian church…
I was totally intrigued and could hardly wait to find out the reason why this church didn’t have a traditional type Christian tower. Sadly there was no exciting explanation. It was built like that on the whim of Mr George Christie, a  wealthy local landowner who thought the original run-down round towered church was not in keeping with the ‘modern’ houses he’d had constructed for his employees, so he commissioned Robert Kerr in 1859 to build a new ornate church in it's place.

The church is mainly constructed of flint but the off-set tower is stone. This may appear incongruous to some people (me included) but, as the saying goes ‘each to his own’’

Inside the church is a delightful pulpit,



... and high above the chancel arch is a most unusual doom depiction…it has Christ sitting in judgement and flanked by two angels.




The square font serves it's purpose although it's not to my own particular taste




The chancel has a beautifully painted ceiling with impressive corbel heads

...and in the Sanctuary is an old piscina - perhaps this was saved from the ruins when the original church was demolished, although it could just have easily been brought in from elsewhere.




The C19 stained glass windows are really quite lovely and show good workmanship



 I really liked the church porch with it’s statuette of St Andrew in the niche above it’s door
This immaculate church is set between fields in rural Norfolk and appears to follow the high church tradition…

…Even if at first glance the outward appearance is a surprise to many who visit, I hope they remain open minded, as St Andrew’s turns out to be a real C19 treasure.