Monday, 3 September 2012

St Michael the Archangel, Beccles

I fully intend to make a further more prolonged visit to this lovely church set in the middle of Beccles town centre…so much to appreciate and because of lack of time there were some things I couldn’t study as fully as I wanted to.

The original chapel built on this site is mentioned in the Doomsday Book….The present church was erected in the latter half of the 14th century, with a porch added on
the South side in the year 1450.

This church is unusual in the fact the square perpendicular
style bell tower which was added in the early 1600s, was placed
at the east end and away from the main body of the church
…I believe the ground was thought unsafe for the tower to be
 placed directly adjacent to the West end of the church, as was
 the usual practice.

 Over the inside of the North door is the coat of arms of Charles 11.

The interior of the church consists of a nave and two aisles….It is a large church with many windows. It is believed the original clerestory windows and it’s then beautiful ceiling were destroyed when the church was gutted during a great fire in November 1586. A simple functional hammer-beam roof  replaced it when the church was rebuilt.


 The Victorian pulpit is in the Gothic style, and                     a carved oak lectern with outstretched wings stands between the pews in the nave and the  rood screen.
...This area of the church in particular is left quite open and I was told the reason for this was because the present incumbent is blind…It left me wondering how difficult it must be for a person of the cloth to carry out their work     with having such a handicap.

 The oak choir stalls in the Chancel are also Victorian and have poppy head carvings decorating their pew tops and bench ends.

Due to the Victorian stained glass windows, the Chancel is comparatively dark compared to the rest of the church.

The oak rood screen although from the early 1900s is sympathetically carved and in keeping with the other woodcarvings in the church.

The East window in the Chancel commemorates the Jubilee  of Queen Victoria in 1887


Adjacent to the Altar, in the side aisle is a dedicated war memorial chapel….A piscina is built into the East end of the South wall of this chapel, and was for the purpose of washing the holy vessels…

 A stone stairway leads up from this memorial chapel to an outside pulpit  - a rare addition in a Suffolk church. This is now bricked up.

There are many memorial plaques on the walls and ledger slabs let into the floor of the church, which commemorate families since the fire of 1586……These I want to look further into when I make a return visit.

 The oldest surviving item from medieval times is the imposing 13th century Font’s octagonal bowl made from Purbeck marble stands on a stone base from a later date.

In the SW corner of the church is a circular stone stairway leading to the priests chamber with it’s squint hole giving a view of the altar.

The inside of the South porch contains a list of all the rectors of St Michael’s from 1291….again this is something I want to study in more depth..

The outside of the South porch entrance must have looked magnificent when first built with it’s spandrels and carved grape vine frieze...and the niches on either side of the doorway would originally have held statuettes. The porch also has a crested battlement and pinnacles

The peal of the 10 bells in the tower is reported to be one of the finest in East Anglia.

** A thing of note...The parents of Lord Horatio Nelson were married in this church in 1749


  1. Ah, dear St Michael's. Yes, I have many fond memories of this church. Two of my uncles were married there, and I was bridesmaid with my cousin. I love to sit on the bench in the churchyard facing Puddingmoor and look out across the Waveney. Thanks for this very special post, Ann. xx

  2. You're most welcome Debra, I guessed it would bring back a few memories for you..It's a lovely church.