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Sunday, 30 August 2015

All Saints church, Darsham, Suffolk

 All Saints has to be one of the most welcoming churches I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.
Standing on a corner in the village, it’s like a beacon inviting you in through it’s gates.  The first thing you see  is an amusing sign pointing to the modern toilets - so no need for anyone to cut short their visit here!

The entrance is through the open South door via the porch, At the West end of the church is a typical East Anglia style C15 font which has alternating panels carved with shields held by angels, and lions…four lions stand proud around it’s shaft.   The font cover was made in the early C20 by a local craftsman

Facing the entrance door is a ship’s bell, belonging to the mine sweeper HMS Darsham, it was presented to the church when the ship was de-commissioned.

                        Over the South doorway is a pleasing Coat of Arms of George lV
This a church where the Chancel is almost as big as the nave.

 There’s a C17 restored pulpit and a brass lectern, and benches which have poppy head ends

A niche for holding a statue is in the East jamb of one of the four beautiful perpendicular nave windows

There are three more perpendicular windows in the chancel plus a charming old lancet window

The chancel shows work of restoration which has been sympathetically done.
On the North wall of the Chancel hangs a hatchment for Charles Purvis d.1808  he had lived at Darsham House

An impressive memorial for the influential Thomas Bedingfield d.1661 is also placed on the North chancel wall...

...He was the cousin of Anne Bedingfield,a Norfolk lady who came to stay with her Suffolk relatives after she was widowed. She is buried under the chancel floor and has a superb brass on her ledgerstone.  She died in 1641

There are also two other small brasses in the church for Marion Reve c1490 and William Garard c1530

 Outside the church once more, and it’s obvious that the tower was added on to the church either late C15 or early C16   The Norman doorway is bricked up.

There are some interesting headstones in this spacious churchyard, including these below of families 
who once lived at Darsham House:-

< Parry-Crooke Family

                                         Hadley Family >

Others Headstones of interest:-
Joseph son of Joseph and Sarah Good(a?) d.1856 aged 20yrs and his five elder infant  siblings:- Elizabeth d 1819, Philip d.1821, Catherine d. 1825, Letitia d.1826 and Georgeanna d.1830. >>

Henry son of Thomas and susan Ma(nn?) d.1832 and his siblings
Susan d.1832 aged 4yrs
Charles d.1834 aged 2yrs
A stillborn baby (no date)     

William Langstaff Weddall MA d.1851 aged 43 years, 
Wife Louisa Mary d.1891 aged 80 years
 Daughter Louisa Catherine Ellen d.1846 aged 4 months
                                     Daughter Louisa Mary died 1848 aged 1 month

Jeremiah Eastaugh, Blacksmith.d.late 1700s
" My sledge and hammer ,
My bellows too have lost their wind
My fire extinct my forge decayed

My coals are spent my iron gone
My nails are drove my work is done"

 Purvis family gravestones were almost hidden in the undergrowth >

Sunday, 23 August 2015

All Saints Church, Ringsfield

A charming thatched roof church set in a delightful churchyard away from the village,
It’s narrow C15 tower contains a small perpendicular west window.
In the early part of the year I imagine this churchyard is awash with Spring flowers.

On the north side outside of the church, adjacent to the C16 arch braced roofed porch  is the 1902 gravestone of Princess Caroline Murat, who was grand-daughter of the King of Naples and great niece of Napoleon Bonaparte. The grave is marked by a flamboyant angel. Sadly her grave now seems like a forgotten relic of a bygone age. She came to Suffolk when she married her second husband, the squire of nearby Redisham Hall…from all accounts she didn’t look on her time in Suffolk with much favour and yearned for her previous life in America and Paris.

By the mid C19 the church had become rather run down so an extensive restoration throughout took place in 1883/84
A large brick memorial to Nicholas Garneys who died in 1599, was reset into the south wall of the church. He was High Sheriff for Suffolk in 1592  The Garneys were early resident owners of Redisham Hall.

Most of the interior of All Saints is the work of the Victorians. The church appears long and narrow and quite gloomy. Originally the nave held early box pews which were removed, and even the West gallery was taken out.

The C17 pulpit was much altered but it still retains it’s early tester board.

There remains a C17 black and gilt lower rood screen with it’s panels painted with texts from the scriptures

The octagonal font is from the C15 and carved with Tudor roses, flowers and shields.

There is only one remaining C15 bench with it’s poppyheads still surviving, and this  now resides in the tower.
I found the stone reredos set under the East window to be quite harsh in appearance.

The church contains some lovely C19 stained glass

Much of the churchyard is given over to promoting wildlife conservation which makes it an interesting although difficult experience to reach some of the older gravestones.

The inside of this church became flooded up to 2 feet high on August 26th 1912 when there was a great deluge in East Anglia, when 6” of rain fell within 12 hours.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Belton..All Saints church

It was a glorious April day when I visited this church. It stands on an incline at a sharp bend down a narrow road leading out of a large village. It now has a housing estate built alongside it.

When I first arrived I had to content myself with exploring the outside of the church as the door was locked.

It has a sprawling churchyard with a few interesting headstones.

The church had a bright red tiled roof added during the C19 looked quite startling at first glance with the strong sun shining down upon it.

I could see where the outer wall of the chancel and the porch had been sympathetically restored with flint stonework.
The tower, as I found out later, was originally a round one, but by the C19 all that remained of it was a heap of rubble!
Both the North and South doorways are pleasant and complete with headstops which show varying degrees of weathering..

Just as I was about to leave and travel on to my next church, a lady drove up with a key to open the church door, She told me they have to keep the church locked due to persistent vandalism…no doubt this was the reason for the outside of all the windows being covered with wire meshing!

<<  Window with headstops

The church had a thatched roof until the mid C19 when major restoration took place. ...
During this time the chancel was rebuilt and the interior furnishings renewed.

I have to admit to being a little disappointed with the interior of this church. The nave now appears to be a carpeted meeting room, but there were still a few things of interest for me to enjoy.

A faded C14 wall painting of St Christopher is on the North wall of the nave, and alongside it another wall painting which looks to be from a later date (possibly C15) but as it's so worn away it's difficult to hazard a it's  date....These wall painting were uncovered in 1848

The C13 purbeck stone font was restored in 1849 - the same time as a broken Norman font was discovered and subsequently pieced together again.
The chancel was reconstructed in 1880 and has a pleasing East window, and below it is a lovely carved oak reredos from just a few years later.

The sanctuary has an ogee-arched recess low in it’s North wall (I would like to find out the reason for this)

I was sorry to find no pamphlets about this church which would have aided my visit. The 'key' lady told me there was no-one in the parish who showed any interest in producing one….This is one of the reasons I left this rather forlorn church with a feeling of unease about it’s future. It’s difficult to understand why there should be apathy in a growing community such as this.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The church of St Ethelbert, Thurton

I liked this church very much, it was well worth the drive up a dirt track to reach it.
Just through the church gate there’s an odd notice asking people to “please take away your dead flowers instead of  throwing them over the church wall into the field”…Perhaps it may be a good idea to provide a bin for placing them in, as most other churches do.
 It’s a pleasant short walk from the gate to the medieval South porch of the church, passing the war memorial on the way.

I could hear a continuous loud tapping noise while in the churchyard, it took me a while to realise it was the rope on the flagpole – evidently it hadn’t been secured down from the last time a flag was flown. I was grateful the noise couldn’t be heard from inside the church - maybe the thatched roof deadened the sound
The windows on the outer South wall of the nave have some unusual headstops, consisting mainly of carved animal heads.


 Entry into the church is through the magnificent South Norman doorway which has some beautiful decorative carving, with the extra touch of a scratch/Mass dial and medieval graffiti on it’s inner jambs.
Another weathered scratch/Mass dial is just about visible on a quion-stone on the SE corner of the church. 

The blocked North doorway is also Norman but much plainer.

The interior of the church, although chilly, had a welcoming feel to it. My dogs settled down contentedly at the back of the church while I continued to look round.

The font which stands in front of the tower screen is the plainest I've seen in a long time, but I feel it must be at least three hundred years old, unless it's a very good copy of a C17 style.

The church interior is one continuous space as there in now no screen to divide the chancel from the nave.

A gorgeous bible dated 1875 stands on the lectern, it's in immaculate condition and I felt I should have been wearing gloves to touch it.

The pulpit with open sides is Victorian…not my favourite personal style, but still very pleasant.

I've read that a skilled conservator had to remove at least ten coats of paint from the walls of the nave before revealing ancient indistinct paintings underneath

Some of the stained glass windows are lovely. There’s a depiction of St Andrew in the East window...<<

..and eight Saints are portrayed in the West window                      >>

Unusually the Royal Arms of George 1v on the North side of the chancel are also in glass.

The churchyard is kept neat and tidy and holds some impressive vault tombstones