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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Sisland

What a charming little church this is, but so easy to miss down a remote narrow country lane. It is a whitewashed building with a thatched roof and clapperboard belfry, which is topped by a squirrel weather vane
…. It appears a severe storm so badly damaged the church in 1761 that much of it had to be rebuilt.
Some flint wall ruins of a C14 chapel can be seen on the outer north wall

Most of the church was rebuilt from 1761 onward


Apart from an original window in the porch all the other windows in the church are C18

         <<   porch window   

…Turning East from the small porch into the nave, one is faced with a long narrow room, it reminded me of a village hall, it is so bright and welcoming.

The West gallery from the 1760’s rebuilding of the church houses the organ

The typical C15 East Anglian style font with it’s decoration of lions, flowers and angels  remains from the earlier church, although it’s has received a certain amount of damage over the years.

The gloriously golden framed East window is simple in design with painted glass of the Holy Spirit and SS Peter and Paul holding their symbols of a key (St Peter) and a sword (St Paul)

East window and decalogue
boards above Altar table  >>

The pews and pulpit are C18 …the old box pews were in use until 1936

<<   Pulpit

The small churchyard is given over to the conservation of wildlife, and although to the visitor it looks overgrown, it is managed twice yearly to facilitate and encourage all types of wildlife.

Considering this is one of the smallest churches still in use that I’ve visited, I was astonished to see the amount of literature and information available in the church.
St Mary’s is a credit to the parishioners of Sisland who have kept this church alive.

It is a delightful picturesque church standing in a garden of tranquillity.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Burgh Castle, church of St Peter & St Paul

This church can be found down a narrow road and adjacent to the entrance to a Roman fort. There are some nice trees in the churchyard. The round tower which was started in the C11 continued with brickwork in C17, and is topped by sturdy battlements.
Fragments of Roman bricks from the nearby C3 fort can be seen in the brickwork of the church 
  On the day I visited I found the church in the process of renovation, which looks like being a long on-going job…I could see from what has already been achieved in the C19 North aisle, it’s taking shape nicely with good workmanship throughout.
      This may only be a small church but as you pass through the open door you feel arms enfolding you in a big welcome.
The South porch was rebuilt in 1858 and the original thatched roof replaced in 1851 with stone slabs, which again were replaced in 2000 with slate tiles

Just inside the nave on the South wall, to the East of the entrance is a niche which  housed a Holy water stoop... and a  typical East Anglian C14 Lion font adorned with shields and emblems stands facing just through the door

The North aisle was a mid C19 addition to the C14 church – The North wall of the
nave was demolished and an arcade was built between the existing nave and the new aisle.
At the West end of this aisle a tall C13 grave slab has been fixed to the wall, the floriated cross on it’s lid signifies it must have belonged to the tomb of a  high Ecclesiastic, possibly a prior from the Priory in a neighbouring parish (1273-1530)

…Also clamped to the same wall in the North aisle is an ancient beam which has survived through two fires over the centuries – hopefully it is now in it’s final safe resting place.

There's a fine display of stained glass windows  (C19?)

The stairway which once led to an upper Rood loft is still in situ.

The East window was erected as a memorial to the Rev Charles Green who was Rector here from 1829-1857
The oak Reredos below, is from 1853  >>>

Other mid C19 alterations included the addition of oak pew benches with poppy head finials, and the insertion of the oak Communion rails.
....In the South wall of the Sanctuary is a well preserved piscina where the holy vessels were washed.

A fine Celtic Cross in the churchyard which is dedicated to St Fursey and erected in 1897 by Canon Venables >>>

The oldest gravestone in the churchyard is for a twelve month old baby girl named Barbery Anquish, she died and was reportedly buried on the same day 10th May 1704.

NB …The vast majority of round towered churches are to be found in Norfolk and Suffolk, the reason being, this was an area which didn’t produce any of the dressed stone which was used to fashion corners on a church tower.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Church of St Margaret, Lowestoft

This has to be one of the most loveliest of large churches to visit.. It stands on high ground away from the town centre and is the main parish church of Lowestoft…A large and impressive building, it’s approached via it’s lych-gate
. The present church dates from the mid/late C13, but had good restoration work done in the C19..
The height of the tower was extended and a slim spire added in the C15.

It has a large double storey South porch with chequerwork  along the base course and decorative flushwork panels to it’s façade…three small statues stand in niches around the archway. They are (L-R) St Felix, St Margaret and Herbert de Losing, Bishop of Norwich
The top storey of the porch was used as a cell for two anchoress sisters to live in….It is now known as “The Maids Chamber”
            As you enter the nave your eye is drawn to the C14 font which was defaced by the puritans but has a glorious 1940’s gilded cover

Just in front of the font there’s a wonderful wooden chest from the 1600s

The nave is a vast space with charming arcades

It has a splendid 1890s reconstructed roof, painted deep red with much gilt work …gilded angels were added to the hammer-beams to provide an extra decorative touch.

With no chancel arch to separate the nave from the spacious C19 chancel the length of the church looks enormous

At the rear of the church there’s a huge banner store- quite the tallest I’ve ever come across.

There are some lovely stained glass windows in the north aisle

…and below them stretches a long wooden memorial plaque naming fishermen from along this coast who have lost their lives

… there’s also a long commemorative plaque to the soldiers from WW1 which lines the north wall of the north aisle Sanctuary

...and a poignant family plaque >>

The church possesses a splendid rare medieval brass lectern from 1504

The high Altar has riddel posts with Angels holding candles

A lovely ceremonial cross stands below the altar

There are some interesting ledgerstones

This must have been a compassionate man ...  >>

..and the last remaining brass in the church

I found the vast churchyard fascinating…It holds many enormous tombstones from the !8th and 19th centuries – there must have been some very wealthy inhabitants in the town in those days, there’s even one “ordinary” headstone which stands over nine feet tall.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Church of St Michael, Peasenhall

One has to go along a narrow lane to the church and  on the grass verge opposite the church gate there’s a poignant war memorial.

In 1860 a Mr Brooke, the local squire had an understanding with the villagers of Peasenhall, that he would rebuild the church if they would build the church wall themselves….Almost the entire church was rebuilt, apart from the C15 tower, but even that was modified by having a four foot extension added to it’s height. It looks very pleasing with it’s flushwork around it’s base.
 The fine C15 North porch escaped any rebuilding – it’s a lovely porch which has flushwork on it’s façade and  lion headstops on it’s archway and three statue niches above the entrance.
The interior of the church appears quite bland, but has a neat and comforting feel to it.

The organ is set up high at the back of the West gallery

…the font which stands below is of a sturdy C12 design.

There is an unusual brass to Joseph and Mary Lay who provided the money for purchasing a new tenor bell.

 Most of the furnishings in the church are mid C19, including the nave pews and the choir benches with their poppy head ends and tracery roundels on their backs…I feel the pulpit may be late C19 or maybe early C20

The chancel is fairly small with an arch having a biblical text around it’s arch.
The wooden reredos is painted with ecclesiastical writings including The Lord’s Prayer.

The C19 East window is strong in colour yet simple in design

In the C19 Peasenhall was a small busy industrial settlement….It was here that circa 1800 James Smyth founded his seed drill family business. He is possibly buried in Brampton churchyard., but his son James1807-1891 and daughter-in-law Mary Ann are buried in Peasenhall churchyard. There’s an imposing tombstone for Mary Ann Smyth – she was the 2nd wife of James(2nd) she died 1877 aged shows a depiction of her head on the tombstone. Two gravestones lying directly beside it have no markings that are legible, I wonder if they might be of  her husband James and his first wife.
        The old Smyth and Sons factory comes right up to the South wall of the churchyard. And there are some workers cottages across from the church’s East wall. This gives the church an enclosed feeling from those sides.  The Smyth factory closed down in 1977.