Thursday, 24 September 2015

Theberton, St Peter's church

This is a charming thatched roofed church with many things of interest. It is set on a slight incline next to the village hall .

Exterior…..The first thing which took my eye was the table tomb placed adjacent to the south wall of the church near the porch. It is for the Rev. William Fenn a former rector of this parish (1666-1668) who died in 1678. He had been forced from this living by Cromwell’s men because of his loyalty to King Charles 1st …he was lucky to escape the fate of so many of the clergy at that tumultuous time. He had been so well like by his parishioners that they provided this tombstone for him when he died…His tombstone reads….                                                                                 
“Here is a stone to sitt upon, Under which lies in hope to rise, To y day of blisse and happinesse Honest John Fenn, The Sonn Of William Fenn, Clarke and late Rector of this Parish.                           Being turned out of this liveing and sequestered for His loyalty to the late King Charles the First       He departed this life The 22nd Day of October Anno Dom 1678”

The tower has an octagonal belfry stage and a castellated top which displays gargoyle heads

.The South wall of the Doughty chapel ha fine flushwork monograms of the Doughty family on it's buttresses (more about them later) and it has three large animal gargoyles along it's roof edge.

Displayed in the C15 porch is a piece of airframe of the fated German Zeppelin which crashed nearby in 1917. Sixteen of the nineteen crew members were buried in this churchyard, but in the 1970s their bodies were re-interred in the German Military Cemetery in Staffordshire

Walking through the five hundred year old traceried South door  into the church and one comes face to face with a typical East Anglia style font, with lions, and angels holding shields around its bowl….and beyond that is a lovely Norman doorway leading into the vestry which was added onto the North wall of the nave in 1870

It is a deceptively spacious church, with the nave wall-posts resting upon medieval stone corbels. The chancel arch and rood screen have long disappeared so the church is one open space.

The C15 pulpit is hexagonal in style, and close by is the door to the rood stairs which still has it’s closing ring.

One of the stained glass windows in the nave is dedicated to the memory of Lt. Col. Charles Hothen Montagu Doughty-Wylie who was awarded a posthumous V.C. after his death at Gallipoli in 1917

The choir stalls have large poppy head ends with kneeling angels on their elbows

In the sanctuary is a simple trefoil-arched piscina and a sedilia set into the South wall, and an aumbry (for storing the sacred wine and Holy oils) is in the North wall opposite - this still retains it's medieval door.

The C19 stone arches which flank the east window are now bare, presumably these would have once held Decalogue panels

One of the ledger-stones to be found in the chancel floor is for a child, Florence Milner-Gibson who died 1842 aged 3yrs and 7mths..The Milner-Gibsons were a notable family in this parish. Thomas Milner-Gibson was a C19 political reformer and there are memorial wall tablets for him, his wife Susan Arethusa and their children on the North chancel wall

The South aisle was rebuilt and refurnished in 1846 by the Rev. Charles Montagu Doughty of Theberton Hall, and it is now called the Doughty Chapel. A three bay arcade which divides this small chapel from the main nave is awash with vibrant colour, the painting on the columns and ceiling giving us a C19 glimpse of what the interior of medieval churches used to look like....So much colour is slightly overwhelming in this present day

 This chapel contains many memorials to the Doughty family, including the high Victorian Gothic tablet dated 1843 for Frederica Doughty….

…and on the same wall is a simple tablet for Charles Doughty explorer and poet 1843-1926

…. The Doughty family motto features in the three stained glass windows of the chapel.

Sadly the old churchyard is very overgrown, but a footpath around the church itself is kept mown for people to walk round….Recent burials are in the new churchyard across the road from the church.

   There is a fine war memorial in the churchyard.

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