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Wednesday, 8 May 2013

St Andrews Walberswick


Last year I had the pleasure of visiting St Andrew’s Church in Walberswick in Suffolk. The small town itself has a lot of history but it was the church I was mostly interested in.  It has seen many changes over the last 600 years.
It is set in a pleasant location as one enters Walberswick.


                   
 In the 1400’s there were two churches in the town, one by the marshes which became unused and was taken down in 1473,….and another church on the site where the present day church stands.
This original church had a pitched roof, and a tower which had been added in 1426. The tower was left standing to act as a landmark to the ships at sea when this church was pulled down 1480. A second larger lavish church was then erected adjacent to this tower in 1493, with a nave added in 1507.
….. The ruins of this lavish church still hold sway with the imagination, and it’s easy to imagine when walking round them what it must have been like when the church was in it’s early C16 heyday

Chancel and East Window ruins of original church
Part of the Nave of ruined church
The early part of the C16 proved to be a prosperous time for this church and the town of Walberswick….until Henry V111 claimed all the church tithes c1538  Then the puritan movement via the men of William Dowsing in 1643 ransacked the church of all it’s imagery and brass plaques and smashed the many stained glass windows. So much damage was done to the church that it was left to decline into decay. The church stood for almost a century neglected, as the declining prospects of the people of Walberswick meant they could not afford to put the church back into good repair
….Eventually it was allowed, via a petition, to take off the church roof and build a smaller simpler church in 1695 inside the fabric of the original one.
 The same fate befell the church at Covehithe just along the Suffolk Coast ….(One of my earlier blog postings is about St Andrew’s Church at Covehithe. *Church Within a Church*)





It looks as if many a bottom has  sat on this C14 porch bench over the years.....




The present day church at Walberswick contains a traditional C15 East Anglian Font with lions and angels around it’s bowl.

A Jacobean chest stands near the font.






There’s a medieval pulpit plus the lower part of a screen….this screen could possibly have been saved from the rood screen of the previous larger church.








There are some choir stalls dating from the C15 which have poppy head carvings on their ends and a beautifully carved C14 chair




 Fragments of the smashed stained glass original windows were found and  made into a mosaic, this has been inserted into one of the present church’s clear glass windows.

A new organ was installed in the church in 1961

A modern statue of St Andrew stands in a niche on the exterior of one of the Porch walls of the church.

The ruins of the original church were repaired in the latter part of the C20 with the help of generous benefactors.

                Interior of present church.... beautiful in it's simplicity

The old church ruins are haunting but in a good way.They remain to give us an insight into the social history at the time of the English Reformation.

.I fully intend to make a return visit this delightful church. 

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