Sunday, 10 April 2016

The church of St Peter at Westleton, Suffolk

The last time I came to this church it was pouring with rain, but on this occasion the sun was shining, so I was able to take a good look around it’s large atmospheric churchyard.
The church could easily be missed by passers-by, as it is hidden up a slope behind a tall hedge away from the road.... One of the things first noticed about this church is it's lack of a tower. After the original collapsed in the 1700's it was never replaced but a bell-cote was installed in it's stead.
The interior is spacious, built in 1340 after Westleton prospered due to the great storm of 1286 which caused the demise of the nearby coastal town of Dunwich. Sadly the Black Death of 1349 destroyed trade within this area, and Westleton village once again was reduced in size, but retained it’s large church.
            Entry is via the simple South porch and the inside of St Peter’s is plain but light and airy. With it’s white-washed walls and barrel-vaulted ceiling it gives off an air of simplicity.
There was restoration here both in 1857 and again in 1891, in fact it is still ongoing to this day…. A new West gallery has been built with the lovely C15 font standing below. The font if of the familiar East Anglia type which displays Angels with shields on the panels of it’s bowl.

The pulpit is C19 as is the pews in the nave, these have low doors to keep out the draught  and have Gothic style numbers on their doors, this is reminiscent of the days when pews were rented and seating allocated to parishioners.

The oak lectern is from 1891
There is a nice 1936 prayer desk which has two charming figures carved on it’s finials – one represents a sower of seed and the other of a fisherman
Inserted in the South wall of the chancel is a lovely piscina and sedilia set below a range of splendid arches…there’s also another piscina set in the South wall of the nave
                                   The East window is very large and contains clear glass

 Many of the C17 and C18 ledger-stones and wall tablets found in the chancel are for the wealthy Woods family who over the years resided at Westleton Grange

Looking round the church I noticed that the C14 North doorway had been blocked up

  Some interesting headstones grace the churchyard, including a nice one for a couple who had been missionaries in Palestine, and there’s two smart iron headstones – an unusual type for the early C19

The North side of the churchyard is now given over as a conservation area

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