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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

St Margaret's parish church.Lowestoft

This has to be one of the most loveliest of 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 fa├žade…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

The church possesses a splendid rare medieval brass lectern from 1504

The High Altar has riddel posts topped by angels holding candles

A lovely ceremonial cross stands below the altar
and there are some good wall plaques in the church

….and there's lots of interesting ledgerstones

He must have been a compassionate man >>

The last remaining brass in the church

I found the vast churchyard fascinating as it holds many enormous tombstones from the 18th & 19th centuries. There must have been some very wealthy inhabitants in this town in those days.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

St Andrew's church, Sotherton

I found St Andrew’s church down a narrow country lane amidst wide open fields which had recently been harvested. As there’s no car park to the church I had to park in an open field nearby -  this proved a necessity as two enormous agricultural lorries decided to follow me down the dead end lane!
…Not a good start to my church exploration, which didn’t improve as I found the church unexpectedly locked and no sign of a  key holder.
Feeling a little frustrated I still decided to look round the outside of the church and it’s tiny churchyard.

 I have an odd feeling about this church, I’m not sure it’s as old as it appears at first glance..the beautiful stone carved headstops on the outside of the windows are surely no older than C19 …(I must find some previous information about this church to sate my curiosity)

There’s more nice stone carving on the South  porch archway

I only managed to take a couple of decent pictures of the interior through a pane of clear glass, as the ground around the church looks as if it’s sinking, and I would have needed a pair of steps to reach high enough to take any more pictures.

The font looks typically C15 with Tudor roses and shields carved around it's bowl,...the cover looks as if it might be C17

I had been told beforehand that this church contains an effigy of a C13 knight reposing in an arched recess in the North wall of the nave..I would loved to have seen that  - so will definitely have to make a return visit (providing I can get the key)

There's a nice priest's door on the North side of the church - notice it has steps up to the door, which demonstrates how much higher the church is than the churchyard.

One obvious omission from this church is a tower, I never think a church looks right without one, so I need to find out the reason why there's only a little bellcote here. 

There doesn’t appear to be many graves in the churchyard. Maybe there were burials here before headstones started to became fashionable in the 1600s, but there's no obvious sign of any. 

This picture shows members of one family who all died within a few years at the beginning of the C19

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Locked church no 4 Gillingham

Gillingham churches St Mary and All Saints

There are actually three churches side by side along a short road which leads to Gillingham Hall…A locked Roman Catholic church and the two (one is a ruin) Church of England churches which stand either side of the Hall gates leading up to the Hall.

St Mary’s church
It has quite a large churchyard which is full of rabbit holes, in fact as I was walking around, a rabbit ran across my feet and vanished into it’s hole in the gave me  a bit of a shock. Thank goodness it wasn’t a rat!!!
            St Mary's is an early C12 flint built church, from the time of Henry 1st  – older than the ruined church of All Saints, but it was greatly modified in the mid C19,  thankfully retaining it’s splendidly carved  Norman doorways. The West one being the main entrance to the church..
Viewing the church from it’s East side it’s Apsidal chancel is displayed admirably, and you can see the tower  has a central position in the church
 It’s such a pity this church is now kept locked. Fortunately I was able to take a few pictures of the interior through clear glass on the North side of the church.

I got the impression that it's rather plain and simply furnished

Gillingham Hall stands directly behind the East end of the church, and there are a few fine large tombstones close to the church wall on that side….Although I couldn’t recognise any of the names, I suspect they belong to people who had connections with the Hall in the past.

 Surprisingly the churchyard is quite neat and tidy, evidently someone keeps it in order on a regular basis.

The ruins of All Saints church
This church was built in the C15 but by 1629 had united with St Mary’s, leaving All Saints abandoned. Most of the church was knocked down in 1748, with only the top of it’s tower now on view.  The rubble from the knocked down church was used to repair roads…(I’m surprised the tower was left standing)

The remains of the tower is almost hidden by a thick mantle of ivy
cladding and now completely inaccessible

A few burials still took place in this churchyard right up to the early C20, but only one or two headstones can be seen.
Sadly it was impossible to negotiate through the centuries of heavily overgrown vegetation to find others…it reminded me of the fairy story of Sleeping Beauty’s castle! ... At one point I was on a slope hanging precariously to a trembling branch to retain an upright position, with scratches, nettle stings and insect bites to show for my efforts.
The things I do in the name of research!!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Locked churches 2&3

2)   All Saints, Kirby Cane
This is another round towered church which stands back from the road amidst a spacious churchyard containing large yew trees, which give immediate evidence of the age of this church.
All Saints is not a large church but has a beautiful Norman South doorway, with a  door covered with C17 graffiti

There's an impressive East window which shows to perfection it’s stretched glass which makes the window appear to shimmer.

<< a niche at one side of the porch which probably held a statuette of one of the saints.

...and a scratch dial(sometimes called Mass dials) is scratched in a stone near one of the nave windows  >>

There’s a blocked up doorway in the north wall of the church.

A nice war memorial stands on the East side of the churchyard,.

This churchyard is badly overgrown in some parts, but I noticed this ‘Alleluya’(sic) marker amidst the graves….I wonder if it’s meant as a grave marker, or is it just a post to *praise the Lord*?…it seems oddly situated in the churchyard if that is the case.

3)   St Mary’s Ellingham
This square towered church is found on a corner approached via a country lane…A sign by the front gate tells us that the roof no longer contains lead ….I assume thieves had already purloined it!
This is a very well kept churchyard with only a small section given over to conservation.

I love this sentimental grave with it’s carved dog, I hazard a  guess the deceased must have been a dog lover.

I was able to get a fair picture of some of the stained glass windows in the nave, taken through a pane of clear glass from the other side of the church.

A war memorial stands just through the gates

Sadly I didn’t see many headstones in this churchyard to excite my curiosity