Friday, 3 October 2014

St James's church Dunwich

There’s nothing to distinguish this country church from many others, it’s just the fact that it’s connected to so much history that makes it more interesting than most.
Dunwich was a thriving early medieval port and used to cover about a square mile to the East of the present cliff edge.
All that remains of Dunwich today is a very small village set back  from the coast
It was the sea which made Dunwich, and it was the sea that ultimately destroyed Dunwich - by encroaching inland and gradually taking the town prisoner beneath it’s waves. By the C18 five out of the six remaining churches had been washed away, with only All Saints church holding out to become the last surviving church to succumb to the sea’s destructive surges ..but the sea could not be constrained, and this church had to be abandoned in the late C18. Some of it's furnishings were salvaged and saved.

The last remaining buttress on the cliff edge was taken down in 1920 before it could fall into the sea, it was rebuilt in the churchyard of the new church, along with a few other pieces of it's masonry.             

 The Dunwich Estate owners  were a family by the name of Barne.They had a new church built away from the village near the ruins of the old Leper Hospital of St James.

... Originally this new church was a simple brick building with a short round tower, but Frederick Barne the benefactor, had the church altered, because he didn’t like it’s design, so paid to have it covered in cladding, and replaced the round tower with a square one, he also added a chancel to the church in 1881.

I like the chancel in St James's C19 church, it's very unpretentious with a lovely serene atmosphere

   A lot of wood has been used in this church, from the richly carved support corbels for the arch-braced roof, to the pews with their poppy-head ends
    Just through the entrance door stands a plain sturdy font – no extravagant carving here!  >>

  A brass dated 1576 for a ship owner and his family now resides in this church, having been rescued from the ill fated All Saints church where it had previously lodged.

         The West window holds a modern depiction of St Felix.

 There are many memorials around the church for the Barne family

….The chancel screen was erected in 1920 to the memory Lady Constance Barne…On the North chancel wall is a monument to Michael Barne who died 1837...

....and one on the North wall of the Sanctuary for Frederick Barne 1886. ..He was the last M.P. for Dunwich.


 I liked the lancet windows in the chancel, and the bright East window which dates from 1858

                  The piscina and sedilia are in the early English style.

The ruins of The Leper Hospital of St James are in the SE corner of the churchyard…it fell into decay and left to deteriorate before being abandoned in 1685. It is now the mausoleum for the Barne family. 

  Old leper hospital of St James.

This a beautiful area to visit. I'll certainly be making a return visit as soon as possible.

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