Wednesday, 19 March 2014

St Mary's Uggeshall

On approaching the church through the modern wooden thatched lych-gate you may be forgiven for wrongly thinking this thatched roof church looks incomplete, as it has no high tower… but this Grade 1 listed church has quite a turbulent history.

During the Reformation many of it’s treasures were looted or destroyed, and a century later under the Puritan cleansing, the medieval glass and the rood screen were destroyed. The original tower was struck by lightning in the C18 and was later replaced by a clapboard belfry which now houses just one bell…although I believe at one time there might have been three bells.

clapboard belfry

The poor church even had it’s East end blown out during the severe East Anglia gales in 1987!

St Mary’s is idyllically situated in a small scattered village and is found down a warren of country lanes.(not an easy place to find for a stranger to the area) It is still in use to this day, mainly due to it’s generous benefactors past and present.
The porch door is Norman and the inner roof is of the arched brace and collar design from the 1400’s.
The font is C15 and octagonal in style. It looks well preserved, but it may have been restored in the 1870’s when it’s cover was added.
….The Victorian craftsmen made a wonderfully sympathetic job of bringing the church back to life with their restoration of the church. The beautiful reredos with paintings of eight saints on a gold background is a fine example of their work.

Above the reredos and placed on either side of the Altar are two lovely square pictures, one of the sower and the other of the reaper.... In front of the chancel  stands the Stuart pulpit.
The medieval piscina for washing the holy vessels, and the sedilla are still in situ.
 Set  into a perpendicular window in the church is a more recent circular piece of stained glass art. This was commissioned to celebrate the new Millennium and is  by Rachel Thomas, it depicts a  mother and child surrounded by contemporary village life.

….The older, mainly Victorian stained glass windows are of the more traditional style found in a church.  The remnants of the Victorian stained glass from the East window, were salvaged when the East End of the church blew down in 1987  and these have been reset  into the new East window.

Outside on the South side of St Mary’s I came across a blocked Priest’s door let into the chancel wall, with the trace of a scratch dial in the wall near it. There’s also a blocked Norman door on the Northern side of the church

On the day I visited there were swathes of beautiful tiny blue flowers blooming in abundance in the large churchyard which contains some unusual gravestones.

......This church may not have the prettiest exterior but nevertheless was a delight to explore.

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