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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Gunton St Peter

An attractive church standing at the end of a cul-de-sac and close to nearby woods.  It probably originates from Saxon times. It has a diminutive round tower which has been restored in recent years.  A complete restoration of St Peter’s took place in 1899 with a vestry added on to the North side of the church in 1903
The church has a very fine North Norman doorway with a carved chevron design

There are two nice medieval windows in the church – a Norman one in the nave and a C13 one in the chancel

The C16 South porch shields another Norman doorway, again with a chevron design - the right hand jamb of this doorway is cut away to house a holy water stoup, and a scratch dial can be found at the bottom of the left hand side of the archway - this was probably moved here when the porch was added.
A single barrel ceiling stretches the length of the church as there’s now no chancel arch or rood screen to divide the chancel from the nave…although evidence remains on the wall where the arch would have been.  There is a stairway at the East end of the North wall of the nave which would have led up to a rood loft - Although the rood stairs are still in evidence, they are now blocked as the rood has long gone. 
A nice carved eagle lectern stands in the nave

On the nave walls are candle holders which look as if they are still used occasionally

There is a simple font which is in use nowadays, while an unused Norman font stands inside the porch

<<Norman font

On the West wall hangs a wooden cross which came from the WW1 battlefield grave of Cpt. Reginald Charlesworth aged 24 yrs

The clear glass in the windows are unusually striated. The only stained glass window in the church is it’s East window where four 1960 panels depict Christ, the sower, the reaper and the fishermen

The piscina and dropped-sill sedilia in the chancel are simple in style.

There is a memorial tablet on the South wall of the chancel for Isabella Steward who died in 1867. She knew her death was imminent so composed her own epitaph, which her husband added on to her memorial tablet. His own memorial tablet by comparison is very stark.

Other wall memorials include one for Charles Boyce, plus a ledger-stone for him and his wife... ...At the end of the C17 this man using his own money rebuilt the church which had fallen into disrepair .

A poignant tablet let into the aisle floor …I can find no information about this poor child nor the family.


There are some interesting headstones in the churchyard, I particularly like this one for a ten year old girl
her name was Dorothy Riley, who was killed in a road accident in 1931.

...and there’s  a poignant stone from 1990  near the porch door for seafaring men who’s graves needed to be moved, when the new church annex was built  
A really delightful church with many more things of interest to see...a church which gives the appearance of being well loved by it's congregation.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Hedenham, St Peter's church

St Peter's church, Hedenham

This church stands in a pleasant village, with it’s path rising up to the church door….interesting and perhaps a little disconcerting are the graveyard foot stones which pave the last few yards of this path.
                        Before I went inside the church I took a wander around the outside.

The North wall of the nave has three single C13 lancet windows

The chancel  appears to have been carefully restored and it’s East window has lovely tracery.
The South wall windows are of the perpendicular style, with the West tower and porch being similar. The nave buttresses are gabled and have trefoils beneath the gable ends.  A rood staircase projection is visible from the South side and the tower parapet has stepped battlements.  

Returning back to the South side of the church I found a large memorial tablet on the outer chancel wall for Arthur Jenney who died in 1742….sadly this tablet is badly weathered so I know nothing more about this gentleman..

While in the churchyard I found a row of large flat tombstones belonging to the Carr Family, they each have the family coat of arms on them…I found this unusual as most notable families have a large square family plot for their loved ones to rest in.
Entry into the church is through a late C14 porch door with a sundial above....I have to say this is one of the most friendliest and welcoming churches I've ever visited. Two ladies were inside, one was arranging fresh flowers around the church while the other was busy with a feather duster keeping everything looking pristine. We were offered cups of tea by these ladies who genuinely seemed pleased to talk to us.
The bright airy nave contains a typical C14 font at the West end with it’s carved decoration of roses and shields….There is evidence that this end of the nave is now used for Sunday School purposes
Turning and facing East, one is struck by how colourful the chancel arch and chancel are...the chancel itself seemed dark in comparison to the nave  which has mainly clear glass windows, while the chancel windows are filled with vibrant coloured C19 stained glass.

Sometimes C19 restorations weren't very successful,but this church seems to have embraced it...Besides the painting around the chancel arch, there is similar painting on the walls around the chancel windows. This gives visitors an insight into how medieval churches would have looked.

One doesn’t usually see churches painted in this way now, and personally I found the extravagance of the Victorian Gothic style (c1860) a little overwhelming, although nicely done 

 The restored sedilia in the chancel looks rather splendid        

There are many large impressive wall tablets which adorn the church walls, especially in the chancel where centuries of the respected Bedingfield family are remembered, including one for Philip Bedingfield who died in 1628 - they were the local Lords of the Manor
Also in the chancel are ledger stones to the Bedingfield family and a lovely chalice brass on the stone of Rev Richard Greene who died in 1502…Other memorial tablets in the church are mainly for the Garneys family.

I found the visit to this church fascinating, there is a calm welcoming light atmosphere in the nave with it’s traditional oak benches, in contrast to the busy chancel.
 Grave foot stones which are being used as a pathway up to the church >>

This is a well loved and happy church which has successfully incorporated the new(ish) amongst the old.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

St Edmund's church, Fritton

This is a charming early medieval reed thatched church, which until boundary changes in 1974 resided in Suffolk, but now Norfolk boasts it belongs to them.

…It’s in a delightful setting down a lane near Fritton Lake on the east Suffolk/Norfolk border.

I've visited this church on numerous occasions but this was the first time I'd been without getting wet, thankfully on this particular day we had glorious sunshine. 
As with many East Anglian churches St Edmunds has a round tower which is of  Saxon origin with the Norman Apse built in the C11 and the Chancel and Nave added in the C13 …The width of the church Nave being extended by approx. 11 feet Southwards in the C14, this gives the inside of the church a lop-sided look, as the chancel is now on the North side of the nave instead of in the middle of the church as originally intended.

 I am not always enamoured by some restoration work done in medieval churches, but this is an exception, as the restoration work here was so sympathetically done, and gives us an insight to how the church interior would have looked centuries ago with all it’s vibrant wall painting.    One has to step down from the nave into the tiny chancel, which is wonderfully restored and seemed a magical place to enter. The East window of this Apsidal chancel is really three separate small Norman slit windows…the depth of these window recesses demonstrates how thick the walls of the original church was. The red scroll wall painting around the entire East window probably dates from C12… Two other stained glass windows are on either side of the chancel, where the workmen have left us a view on the ceiling above of some of the restoration work which has been undertaken.

A small set of medieval choir stalls fit neatly into the chancel near the C13 piscina.

The original rood screen - now restored dates from the middle C14 and is a wonderful doorway into this medieval chancel.

In the Nave a C17 three decker pulpit complete with clerk’s desk and reading desk stand unusually alongside each other. This stands where I think the original Altar must have stood before the nave was widened, as there is a piscina close by.

Two large C14 wall paintings, one of St Christopher and the other of St John the Baptist were uncovered during the restoration work.

The Norman style font is probably from the C19

The stone cross which stands on the Eastern gable of the church is a C12 "Rosa Crux"

On the outside of the South wall of the apsidal chancel can be seen a small wooden hatch to a small room under the eaves, it is known as the 'smugglers loft', where it is believed smugglers used to store their contraband.
This is a church which has survived through the turmoil of the last one thousand years, and hopefully will remain for a very long time in the future.  It is a truly delightful church to visit.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Herringfleet Church of St Margaret 2

This is a lovely little medieval church on the Suffolk/Norfolk border which has a very peaceful interior.

Before the rape of the monasteries by the Tudors, Herringfleet  was governed by nearby St Olave’s Priory.

The round tower is the oldest surviving part of the medieval church. It was begun in 980AD - in Anglo Saxon times. A second section was added to it about a century later – probably at the same time the chancel and the church's south doorway were built. The roof of the nave was re-thatched in the 1890's, although the chancel roof was tiled

The tower was originally used either as a lookout tower, or more likely as somewhere to store armoury
                                              Norman south doorway >
It is thought the south porch was added in the mid C19 when the church was restored.

This restoration defines the class system between masters and peasants in those days.
 The pews with half doors placed in the chancel were for the wealthy landowners and are quite elaborate with poppy head carvings, 
while those set at the back of the nave of the church are very plain and were for the use of the peasants.

<Lamp holder in the nave

 Lord of the manor of Herringfleet at that time and main benefactor for this C19 restoration of the church was John Francis Leathes. There are many memorials in the church for members of the Leathes family.

The East window is made up of stained glass from the late C14 to early C18, and was thought to be imported from Germany, although some of the stained glass in the church probably came from the nearby ruined Priory of St Olaves which was destroyed in Tudor times. The amount of recovered stained glass in the church is very impressive.

There remains a small medieval slit window in the chancel north wall

The font was gifted to St Margaret’s church in the mid C19 by Countess des Aubiers.

Of the two (originally three) remaining bells only the treble bell dating from 1837 is now fit for use.

View from the west gallery- many of the memorials in the church are on the chancel walls

I found some unusual gravestones in the churchyard, one large section contained many members of the Leathes family, all buried in separate graves....this is a particular poignant one to the right. 

<   Leathes family graves which take up a large section of the churchyard.

This is a delightful church to visit and explore, I'll certainly be making another return visit.