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Thursday, 6 November 2014

All Saints church Thurlton

This is a grade one listed medieval thatched roof church which overlooks the Broadland marshes. It is basically C12 with some C15 additions
It’s C15 square tower is impressive.
The lovely Norman South door is not the main entrance.
<<South door
 The one used for this purpose is the elaborate pre-reformation C15 door on the North side of the church, which has protection from it’s contemporary porch.

I’ve not seen a similar doorway quite like this anywhere else…there are carved angels swinging censors in the spandrels of the arch, and a small carving at it’s apex, which is possibly of the Trinity. The inner moulding of the arch used to contain carvings of Tudor roses and crowns, but sadly there are now only fragments left to be seen, The top of the door itself has beautiful iron tracery work upon it;

The font is of the usual Tudor style, adorned with carved roses and shields. There are four carved lions standing around it’s base.
On the north wall is an enormous late medieval wall painting of St Christopher…it wasn’t discovered until early C20 while the church was being cleaned

An early C20 oak pulpit was gifted to the church by the Sewell family. There is a C17 hour glass stand on the adjacent wall which was used for timing the length of the sermons

The mid C19 pews have doors, which help to keep out the draught – almost essential I would think in this chilly church.

The C15 rood screen must have looked impressive in it’s early days with vibrant colouring. Sadly most of the dado panels have now gone and what are left are in very poor condition - although the upper screen still has amazing tracery work.
<<dado panels

 Upper rood screen >>

A window containing stretched glass is in the church...probably the precursor to our modern frosted glass

The chancel contains a number of fine wall memorials,. Most impressive of these are on the north wall -  a marble tablet topped with heraldry to Margaret Denny d.1717. and further along on the same wall an epitaph to Ann Denny d.1665 which contains the verse…
   “Reader stay and you shall heare
   with your eye, who ‘tis lyes heare
   For when stones do silence brake
   th’ voice is seene not heard to speake”

<< Margaret Denny

               Ann Denny >>

..…there are also C17 ledgerstones for the Denny family in the chancel floor. This notable family resided at    Thurlton Manor

 The simple alter table is Jacobean…it looks rather forlorn standing bare below the charming East window with it’s angel

An interesting headstone in the churchyard is for Joseph Bexfield who drowned in 1809 . ( I believe there are others buried here who met the same fate)...they serve as a reminder that this area is surrounded by the marshes

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Church of St Edmund King and Martyr, Southwold

No superlatives I use can do justice to this wonderful church which is situated in the middle of the town.
I think I should start with it's grand two-storey South porch, which was the last part of the church to be built.

It has chequerboard work on it's East and West walls, and over the porch door is a niche which holds a statuette of St Edmund.

The North doorway is just as impressive, without a porch.

The interior of this large church is breathtaking.

The medieval font at the West end of the nave is of the seven sacrament design , and has a magnificent C20 cover.

At the back of the nave is the statue of "Southwold Jack" which originally used to have a clock mechanism, and Jack would strike a bell every quarter of the hour...Although the clock workings have long disappeared, the statue still comes to life at the beginning of services by bringing his sword down to strike a bell. There is a similar statue in nearby Blithburgh church.

The interior of the church is magnificent. I love all the clerestory windows.

The C15 rood screen is truly splendid, it stretches right across the full width of the church. On close inspection I wondered if  it's panels had been painted by more than one person, as the quality of the gessowork differs on  them.

Much of the later restoration to this church happened in the early C20 which included making the pulpit and lectern rather too extravagant for my particular taste, but no doubt there are many people who enjoy this lavish style.

The chancel has a gloriously painted blue spangled ceiling with surrounding angels

The stained glass East window and reredos, are a joy to behold

...and there's a medieval sedilia and piscina set into the chancel South wall.

A very fine ceremonial cross which was a gift from Emporer Haile Selassie stands by the steps up to the altar.

I noticed a lot of C16 graffiti on the ancient benches in the chancel.
The old misericorde stalls are superb with lovely head carvings on each of the armrests...and I really liked the priests chair and desk

The organ standing up high is very ornate, it has angels, some blowing trumpets and others holding shields on it's facade - this was installed in the chancel in 1889

There's a calm serene atmosphere in the Lady Chapel, where it has been suggested the bosses overhead may represent Mary Tudor and her 2nd husband Charles Brandon, Earl of Suffolk. but no-one has found proof of this.

There is so much to see in this glorious welcoming house of God, that a repeat visit will be necessary. ...The churchyard alone is worth a second visit.

Friday, 3 October 2014

St James's church Dunwich

There’s nothing to distinguish this country church from many others, it’s just the fact that it’s connected to so much history that makes it more interesting than most.
Dunwich was a thriving early medieval port and used to cover about a square mile to the East of the present cliff edge.
All that remains of Dunwich today is a very small village set back  from the coast
It was the sea which made Dunwich, and it was the sea that ultimately destroyed Dunwich - by encroaching inland and gradually taking the town prisoner beneath it’s waves. By the C18 five out of the six remaining churches had been washed away, with only All Saints church holding out to become the last surviving church to succumb to the sea’s destructive surges ..but the sea could not be constrained, and this church had to be abandoned in the late C18. Some of it's furnishings were salvaged and saved.

The last remaining buttress on the cliff edge was taken down in 1920 before it could fall into the sea, it was rebuilt in the churchyard of the new church, along with a few other pieces of it's masonry.             

 The Dunwich Estate owners  were a family by the name of Barne.They had a new church built away from the village near the ruins of the old Leper Hospital of St James.

... Originally this new church was a simple brick building with a short round tower, but Frederick Barne the benefactor, had the church altered, because he didn’t like it’s design, so paid to have it covered in cladding, and replaced the round tower with a square one, he also added a chancel to the church in 1881.

I like the chancel in St James's C19 church, it's very unpretentious with a lovely serene atmosphere

   A lot of wood has been used in this church, from the richly carved support corbels for the arch-braced roof, to the pews with their poppy-head ends
    Just through the entrance door stands a plain sturdy font – no extravagant carving here!  >>

  A brass dated 1576 for a ship owner and his family now resides in this church, having been rescued from the ill fated All Saints church where it had previously lodged.

         The West window holds a modern depiction of St Felix.

 There are many memorials around the church for the Barne family

….The chancel screen was erected in 1920 to the memory Lady Constance Barne…On the North chancel wall is a monument to Michael Barne who died 1837...

....and one on the North wall of the Sanctuary for Frederick Barne 1886. ..He was the last M.P. for Dunwich.


 I liked the lancet windows in the chancel, and the bright East window which dates from 1858

                  The piscina and sedilia are in the early English style.

The ruins of The Leper Hospital of St James are in the SE corner of the churchyard…it fell into decay and left to deteriorate before being abandoned in 1685. It is now the mausoleum for the Barne family. 

  Old leper hospital of St James.

This a beautiful area to visit. I'll certainly be making a return visit as soon as possible.

Monday, 22 September 2014

St Margaret's church, Toft Monks

This country church was built in the late C10 - early C11 and used by an order of the monks of Preaux,  Normandy until the mid C15.
It stands a distance apart from the village, nestling in the Norfolk countryside.

A pretty church with a castellated top to it’s C15 octagonal tower.
In the porch there are four wooden  head corbels, which are probably depictions of  early kings and queens, but sadly they are almost unrecognisable  now and look slightly grotesque.
On entering the light bright interior of the church, I looked up to the roof and noticed carved bosses, including one, which looked like the “green man” ...these can sometimes be seen carved anywhere in a  medieval church, either in stone or wood. They are thought to be a pagan symbol of fertility.
A C15 font stands at the West end of the church, with a cover which I believe comes from the C17.  The font’s decorative work has suffered through the years.

. Behind the font and set high into the West wall is a little door through to the tower..

Unusually there are two Royal Arms hatchments in this church – one for Charles 11 (1661) and the other for George 11 (1745)

Royal Arms of George 11

                               Ancient wall painting >>

Restoration of St Margaret’s was undertaken in the mid C19…It was at this time the C13 chancel was hugely restored.

The chancel is very plain but has a serene quality.

.. It’s pleasant East window is relatively modern, dating from 1950.

There are two brasses of interest in the chancel floor. One is for Edward Howlett d.1607 it has an interesting verse:-
          “As I was, so be yee, As I am yee shall be.
           That I gave, yt I have: that I spent, yt I had.
           Thus I end. All my cost, yt I left,  yt I lost.”
 The other C17 brass is for John Kedgell, which tells us he was a good benefactor of the ‘poore’

          There’s also an impressive memorial to John Bayspool dated 1653 on the chancel North wall.

I love that an adult male was nearly always referred to as  “Gent” on a lot of these old ledgerstones…probably respected in the parish

This simple church has a nice Celtic Cross war memorial standing on the North side of the churchyard.
It would be very easy to twist one’s ankle in this churchyard as it has many rabbit holes, so be aware if you ever pay a visit to this church!