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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Beccles St Michael the Archangel

This is a lovely welcoming church situated in the town centre. It is evident that the town’s people love and enjoy their church as it is kept in immaculate condition.
Before entering the church I noted something of special interest on the outside.….This is one of the few churches which has an outside pulpit - I’m not sure if this story is correct but it’s claimed that the patients from a local leper hospital used to stand outside and the vicar would stand in this pulpit and preach to them.

There is no tower attached to the church – the ground at the W end of the church was thought too unstable to support the weight of a tower, so one was built away from the church at it’s SE end.

Entry into the church is through a wonderfully ornate South porch, which has many niches which were probably originally filled with statues

Although a new modern font is now used, the fine old C13 one still stands at the rear of the church, it retains it’s octagonal bowl of Purbeck marble which stands on a plinth from a later date

Near the entrance door is an old medieval chest which has three locks. This would have held all important documents pertaining to the church

High above the S entrance door is a most unusual squint window – these are normally tiny plain glass. Two rather grubby C17
 hatchments hang below

The large expanse of the nave is light and airy, helped somewhat by it’s clerestory windows

A very fine Royal Arms of Charles ll hang at the NW end of the nave   

The wonderful richly carved early C20 chancel screen was a gift from the Crowfoot family (their family tombs can be found outside the S side of the church)

The lectern and pulpit are Victorian and made in the Gothic style

The choir stalls have delightful carvings on the pew ends

 I like the stone carved memorial tomb now placed in the N wall of the sanctuary. It is attributed to  John Rede, a former Lord Mayor of Norwich who died in 1502... It's original frieze showed all of his eight sons and three daughters (the first son on the frieze had to be cut off when tomb moved to it's present position, so that the frieze would fit into this new space)
In the SE aisle of the chancel is a memorial chapel dedicated to the men who gave up their lives for this Country in the Great War of 1914-1918. It has beautiful stained glass windows

The church's huge East window commemorates the jubilee of queen Victoria in 1887

The father of Lord Horatio Nelson was once a curate here and he and his wife were married in this church in May 1749

One important thing I must mention is the huge fire which gutted most of the church in 1586. Evidence of this fire still exists with some of the nave pillars showing discolouration through the heat of this fire

There is so much more I could write about this fine church, so I strongly recommend a visit here – you will not be disappointed.  It stands as a witness to the people’s faith in the Lord.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

St Peter's church, Weston Suffolk

This church is situated in a picturesque position in a Suffolk hamlet, with some lovely trees in it’s graveyard.

A church in some form has stood on this spot for over a thousand years

 The South Norman doorway was blocked up with red Tudor brick, but the door itself was left in situ

The tower is C15 and the long chancel is obviously C13, but the date for the original church here is Norman…I found some of the Norman windows had been blocked.

The main entrance to the church is via the North doorway which has the protection of a porch with an arch -braced  roof… vestiges of worn head-stops can be seen on the inner doorway. A holy water stoup sits in the porch

 On entry into it’s simple sparse interior one feels a dignified atmosphere.
There is a C15 font which stands supported on a base the shape of a Maltese Cross, sadly it’s panels of carved angels are defaced

There are fragments of early C14 wall paintings on the South wall of the nave which have been identified as showing Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.

One of the windows in the nave contains a roundel in (C18 ?) enamelled glass which shows a picture of Christ and the sleeping disciples at Gethsemane

 A well preserved Royal Arms for James 11 hangs on the South wall of the nave

 The simple styled arch-braced roofs of the nave and chancel are probably early C15
The pews appear to be a combination of C15 with added C19 restoration work
There is a nice Jacobean chest which stands at the west end of the nave,
Although there is no longer a rood screen, there’s evidence that one used to be here, as there’s a cut-out for the rood stairs on the north wall of the chancel arch.

The chancel was restored in 1860

There are some interesting ledgerstones in the church

The churchyard has many secluded headstones almost hiding from view, ....
and one headstone of note which I fund poignant was standing not far from the gate and is for five young siblings.

 <<  five young siblings

Ivy is spreading rapidly among the undergrowth and around the trees in the churchyard

It's very sad to find children's graves which have evidently been forgotten by following generations

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

St Margaret's church, Ilketshall, Suffolk

A charming little church in a lovely setting surrounded by woodland near the village green.
A large tub of Summer flowers stands in the driveway to welcomes visitors.

 The lych-gate  was paid for by Margaret Hazard in memory of her father George Lewis Allsopp a long serving vicar here - and of her husband

The churchyard was a delight to wander round, parts of it are left for the wildlife to enjoy and the rest is beautifully mown. I have the feeling that the village people really appreciate their church and do their best to present it as attractively as possible.

Sadly the fabric of the church is deteriorating badly with the outside rendering peeling away from the walls, and the interior of the church is succumbing to rising damp. I fear whatever little foundations there are to this 1000 year old church are now unstable, with most of the C19 pews at an angle leaning toward the outer walls of the nave

The beautiful unglazed floor tiles in the chancel are now severely discoloured due to the pervading damp

 Even the C15 font has not escaped it’s clutches

All the interior walls of the church are  whitewashed over, completely covering original medieval wall paintings. Sadly the rising damp is noticeable in various places on these walls too.

The C19 pulpit and  lectern like the pews are fashioned in a very plain design, which is in keeping with the sparseness of this little church.

The boarded chancel ceiling is painted blue and adorned all over with gilded stars

A  really nice Royal Arms of Queen Anne dated 1704 hangs on the tower wall at the West end of the church
Interestingly in the porch the roof contains a couple of grotesque heads

Not noticeable from the inside of the church but very clear from the outside is a blocked up medieval North door which now has a C19 trefoil window in it’s place

Walking round the outside of the church I noticed the early C14 East window still retains it's headstops - albeit now badly weathered.

..and on a nearby window jamb is a well defined scratch dial

The priest's door in the chancel south wall has a fanciful cusped arch - I feel this must have been added on a whim by the Victorians

I left here with a feeling of sadness on the condition of the fabric of the church but also with hope that enough money can be raised to arrest it's deterioration.
.. I'm sure even the many roosting birds would appreciate that..>>


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

St Peter's church, Redisham

This is an exquisite tiny church in a delightful setting standing back from a leafy lane. Sadly I fear for it’s future due to the instability of the foundations – the churchyard is evidence of this as the ground is very soft and uneven, making it difficult to walk round for fear of sinking inches into the ground with each step taken  
The church tower unfortunately collapsed during the C19 and now a small bell-cote stands in it’s place.
The Normans gave this modest little church two splendid C12 carved doorways with a chevron design. The South doorway is protected by a plain red brick porch
- and a scratch dial is still visible on the right hand capital of the doorway arch 

 The splendid South medieval entrance door still retains it’s closing ring  

The blocked North Norman doorway is carved in a more simpler chevron design

The C15 font has blank shields and Tudor roses carved around it’s bowl  

The Stuart pulpit is splendid and has the date 1619 carved upon it. 

A two-light East window has decorated tracery, and there are two lancet windows set into the South wall of the chancel from about the same date. The only stained glass window in the church is the one by the pulpit which is in memory of an early vicar of this church… Whether there was ever a chancel arch I don’t know, although brick responds remain in situ.  (possibly by adding an arch it would have proved too weighty for the church to stand safely on such poor foundations)

There are some early amusing pew ends in the chancel. I love this one which depicts a bear with it's head in a honey pt.

There is only a small churchyard here but it contains a really interesting headstone, it’s for an eleven month old baby girl by the name of Eliza Westrup who died in 1840

…The epitaph on the stone reproaches her father who evidently rejected any connection with her…it reads:-
“Remember me as you pass by, tho’ you my father did me deny.
Glad were you to hear the sound of the bell that passed me to the ground.
If you were as free from sin as I, you would not be afraid to die.
As I am now so must you be, therefore prepare to follow me”
I wonder if seeing this epitaph would have pricked her father’s conscience!...(Unfortunately nowadays the writing is barely legible due to weathering).

 Long pathway from the church gate up to the church >>