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Friday, 2 October 2015

St Peter's church, Brampton

 This church stands on a hazardous bend on a busy road and has a steeply sloping churchyard. Like most medieval churches from this era a lot of restoration work has taken place at St Peter’s over the centuries.. but this church retains it’s medieval aura.
It is a handsome building with a C15 square tower and early tracery windows.
The C15 porch is small, sheltering a pleasing church door complete with it’s original closing ring

There is a C15 octagonal font with Tudor roses carved on it’s bowl and supported by a sturdy four shafted stem.

Most of the nave furnishings are made from C19 oak, including the tower and rood screens with their lovely tracery work…A fine C19 stained glass window adorns the West wall of the tower

The chancel floor must have been raised at some point as the medieval piscina is so low to the floor - it would not have been like this originally.

The C19 pulpit stands in front of a blocked stairway to the rood loft

 The chancel holds many memorials to the Leman family who were Lords of the manor and benefactors of this church from the year 1616 until Victorian times, with some of the male family members being rectors of the Parish.  There are two Leman monuments in the chancel dating 1788 and 1807, and a memorial to Susan Orgill Leman who financed the mid C19 restoration of the church. There are also ledger stones let into the chancel floor for this influential family.

One of the chancel windows is dedicated to Rev. Thomas Orgill Leman.
The C13 tracery windows on the South wall of the chancel contain some lovely stained glass.

On the outside of the church there is a scratch dial on both sides of the priests door.

A headstone for Robert Auldous dated 1785 has been placed up against the rebuilt C19 East wall and directly below the East window….I wonder if there was a special reason for this....

There are some poignant but inspiring headstones in the churchyard, I wished I’d had  the time to peruse more of them..Gravestones only started to appear in churchyards from the C17, up until then only the wealthy could afford to show public respect for their departed loved ones.

….On a headstone for Samuel Girling aged 37 who died in 1840    reads the  moving epitaph….
 “Farewell dear wife, My life is past,
 My love to you till death did last
 And now no sorrow for me take
 But love my child for my sake”

One of the oldest headstones in this churchyard …I wonder who B.G. was..>>

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Theberton, St Peter's church

This is a charming thatched roofed church with many things of interest. It is set on a slight incline next to the village hall .

Exterior…..The first thing which took my eye was the table tomb placed adjacent to the south wall of the church near the porch. It is for the Rev. William Fenn a former rector of this parish (1666-1668) who died in 1678. He had been forced from this living by Cromwell’s men because of his loyalty to King Charles 1st …he was lucky to escape the fate of so many of the clergy at that tumultuous time. He had been so well like by his parishioners that they provided this tombstone for him when he died…His tombstone reads….                                                                                 
“Here is a stone to sitt upon, Under which lies in hope to rise, To y day of blisse and happinesse Honest John Fenn, The Sonn Of William Fenn, Clarke and late Rector of this Parish.                           Being turned out of this liveing and sequestered for His loyalty to the late King Charles the First       He departed this life The 22nd Day of October Anno Dom 1678”

The tower has an octagonal belfry stage and a castellated top which displays gargoyle heads

.The South wall of the Doughty chapel ha fine flushwork monograms of the Doughty family on it's buttresses (more about them later) and it has three large animal gargoyles along it's roof edge.

Displayed in the C15 porch is a piece of airframe of the fated German Zeppelin which crashed nearby in 1917. Sixteen of the nineteen crew members were buried in this churchyard, but in the 1970s their bodies were re-interred in the German Military Cemetery in Staffordshire

Walking through the five hundred year old traceried South door  into the church and one comes face to face with a typical East Anglia style font, with lions, and angels holding shields around its bowl….and beyond that is a lovely Norman doorway leading into the vestry which was added onto the North wall of the nave in 1870

It is a deceptively spacious church, with the nave wall-posts resting upon medieval stone corbels. The chancel arch and rood screen have long disappeared so the church is one open space.

The C15 pulpit is hexagonal in style, and close by is the door to the rood stairs which still has it’s closing ring.

One of the stained glass windows in the nave is dedicated to the memory of Lt. Col. Charles Hothen Montagu Doughty-Wylie who was awarded a posthumous V.C. after his death at Gallipoli in 1917

The choir stalls have large poppy head ends with kneeling angels on their elbows

In the sanctuary is a simple trefoil-arched piscina and a sedilia set into the South wall, and an aumbry (for storing the sacred wine and Holy oils) is in the North wall opposite - this still retains it's medieval door.

The C19 stone arches which flank the east window are now bare, presumably these would have once held Decalogue panels

One of the ledger-stones to be found in the chancel floor is for a child, Florence Milner-Gibson who died 1842 aged 3yrs and 7mths..The Milner-Gibsons were a notable family in this parish. Thomas Milner-Gibson was a C19 political reformer and there are memorial wall tablets for him, his wife Susan Arethusa and their children on the North chancel wall

The South aisle was rebuilt and refurnished in 1846 by the Rev. Charles Montagu Doughty of Theberton Hall, and it is now called the Doughty Chapel. A three bay arcade which divides this small chapel from the main nave is awash with vibrant colour, the painting on the columns and ceiling giving us a C19 glimpse of what the interior of medieval churches used to look like....So much colour is slightly overwhelming in this present day

 This chapel contains many memorials to the Doughty family, including the high Victorian Gothic tablet dated 1843 for Frederica Doughty….

…and on the same wall is a simple tablet for Charles Doughty explorer and poet 1843-1926

…. The Doughty family motto features in the three stained glass windows of the chapel.

Sadly the old churchyard is very overgrown, but a footpath around the church itself is kept mown for people to walk round….Recent burials are in the new churchyard across the road from the church.

   There is a fine war memorial in the churchyard.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Cathedral of the Marshes..Holy Trinity, Blythburgh

There is so much to write about this wonderful church , known as *The Cathedral of the Marshes*   It is no ordinary country church as it’s so large and light. It typifies the open landscape and coastline that it represents, and has excellent acoustics which is demonstrated when musicians and singers perform here.
 This is a church brought back to life from it’s ruinous state. 
The church of Holy Trinity was built in 1412 for the high class rituals of the Catholic church. Originally everything inside of the church would have been brightly painted – today we would have called it garish with  it’s boldness... After the dissolution of the nearby monastery in 1538 the church was beset by mounting problems
… In 1577 during a great storm lightning struck the church spire which sent it crashing down through the roof damaging the font. (There’s a superstition that the scorch marks on the Great North Door were made by the Devil’s claws during this storm)
…In 1644 the church was victim to the Puritan leanings of that time and was stripped of most of it’s fine medieval trappings, even the brass memorial plaques belonging to the tomb slabs in the floor of the Nave were taken up and disposed of.
Because of the extreme poverty of the rural community,  and their attendance at the small primitive Methodist chapel, the Church was left to decline… It wasn’t until 1881 that any restoration of Holy Trinity church began to take shape, and it was three years before they were able to open the church to a congregation. 

On approaching the church there are three things of note on the outer wall (a) a Lombardic inscription set into the wall (b) what looks like a medieval font which stands by the porch door and was used as a stoup for holy water, and (c) a modern statuette by Nicholas Mynheer of the Holy Trinity placed in  the niche over the porch door.

…The Southern side of the church is more resplendent than the Northern side, as it displays  stone grotesques and lion’s heads for all to see.

It is on entering the church itself that one can immediately see what a majestic building this must have originally been. It is spacious with a high ceiling, and has stone columns with carved heads on the corbels dividing the nave from the side aisles..

 There are two rows of windows along each 
side of the church and light shines in through the plain glass windows of the clerestry displaying  the ceiling angels in their (albeit now faded) glory.

…The pew ends seem older than the pews themselves and have  carvings on them depicting the seven deadly sins and the four seasons..

Very little remains of the medieval stained glass from the lower storey of windows in the church, these have mostly been replaced by plain glass.

Just inside the porch door and to the left there is a flight of circular stone steps leading to the Priest’s Room, which is now used for prayer and contemplation.

…Facing the porch door is the 15thcentury octagonal font- originally this would have had lovely carving on it, but this was stripped away in the 1540’s
The font stands at the west end of the church looking down the long nave toward the rood screen, chancel and altar…

.Just in front of the rood screen stands the beautifully carved 17th century pulpit.

To the left of the chancel and altar is the chantry chapel dedicated to John Hopton who was Lord of the manor in 1478, his elaborate tomb stands between the chantry chapel  and the chancel

 Inside the chancel are the wonderfully old choir pews with their carvings of the Apostles and Saints

There are two niches in the stone walls – the one near the organ contains one of the few remaining working
*Jack’o the Clock* figures dating from 1682…The other niche holds a modern carving of Virgin and Child by Peter Eugene Bell.

To the left of the chantry chapel by the small North door are some spiral steps which used to lead up to the upper rood screen
…there’s also an alms box dating from 1473.
 Tethering rings are set into the pillars by the Great North door. One assumes these were for congregations to tether their waiting horses while they were attending service.

It’s good to see restoration work on Holy Trinity continuing…It would be almost unthinkable  to lose one of our most loveliest of churches . 
With the grace of God it will still be standing for many more years, for our descendants to visit and worship.

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 >