Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Most Holy Trinity Church, Barsham

This article is about just a few of the wonderful things in this historic church which was one of Suffolk’s Anglo-Catholic shrines.

The welcoming church stands dignified beyond the lych-gate in it’s pretty churchyard, away from the noise of any traffic.
 A striking exterior feature when walking round the churchyard is the unusual flint lattice work across the face of the East wall, continuing the lattice work theme in the East window….this was most likely done in the early C16.

The grave stone of the noted C20 author Adrian Bell is situated close to the Porch door. (he was the father of Martin Bell, journalist and former Independent MP)

Just inside the church are ancient medieval floor tiles – although now badly worn they must have looked splendid originally.

One of the most magical times to visit this church is either at the Spring or Autumn Equinox.
…The little C14 slit window which replaced an upper floor priest’s door in the west wall of the nave into the tower was sited off-centre. Presumably this was done for the specific purpose of the evening sun at equinox to shine directly through the West window and on through this narrow slit window to throw it's radiance onto the face of Christ hanging above the rood screen between nave and chancel…it lights up Christ’s face for just four minutes, twice a year –  the only time this ever happens....

This picture was taken at the Autumn Equinox in  2009 by Charlotte Byrne.

The Rood screen

Under a carpet in the Chancel lies a wonderful ledger stone.  The original stone was hit by an asteroid millions of years ago and through the centuries has reformed into multi coloured marble, from which this ledger stone is made. Sadly one small corner of the ledger stone is beginning to crumble, so steps have been taken to cover it over to prevent any more wear and tear... it would be a huge and costly undertaking to restore it. ..I felt very privileged to have the carpet turned back so that I could see and touch something so exquisite.

There is a tomb let into the wall of North wall and believed to be that of Edward Etchingham....possibly through ignorance this tomb was scrubbed clean in the early C20, thereby losing all vestiges of the ancient paintwork on it.  One can see a depiction of the 'green man' carved on the tomb...this is an old fertility symbol and can be seen elsewhere in most medieval churches.
One other thing of note which may be of interest in the church is the Trafalgar stained glass window in the nave, this commemorates the Suckling family… Catherine Suckling was the mother of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson.

Some of the Suckling family gravestones...they were Rectors of this church through very many years

There are so many things of interest to find in this church that I’ll have to write a further article at a later date including them all. It’s certainly a church I will never tire of revisiting again and again.

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