Thursday, 26 May 2016

St James, South Elmham

It is Springtime, and this is one of my favourite churches to visit, certainly my favourite among all the churches in the South Elmham and Ilketshall benefice. It is also the eldest one among them. It is a haven of tranquillity set amidst the open countryside with only bird song and the rumble of a distant farmer’s tractor for company 
In the porch is a medieval crocketted Holy Water stoup, which now contains a replacement bowl. 

As you enter into the church, the vestry on the left is divided from the main part of the nave by a section of a C14 parclose screen

The font just beyond is made from C12 Purbeck marble, now eroded through the passage of time. It’s fine C15 cover has a border of oak leaves
    – a small brass eagle (or maybe it’s a dove) with a rope attached rests on a ledge on the wall close by, and is used as the weight when raising the font cover for baptisms. 

High on the West wall above and flanking a very dirty set of George 111 Royal Arms are two small circular recesses which might possibly have been Saxon windows before the tower was added.

A delightful old chest (unsure of it’s date) stands at the NW end of the nave

The interior of St James is light and airy, the side chapel making it larger than it appears from the outside. 

This side chapel on the South side of the church is dedicated to St John the Baptist

The Jacobean square pulpit is finely crafted. - as is the lectern on which are perched two  owls, lovingly carved by Sir Shafto Adair (a previous incumbent here) after the two original owls which stood here were stolen in the 1980s.

In the wall by the lectern is the opening to the rood stairs and above this is the blocked door to the upper rood screen

Some restoration of the church took place in 1874. The chancel was given wooden panels around it’s walls on which the local people in the early part of the C20 carved reliefs of small animals all around it’s top edge
In the South chancel wall sits a C13 piscina with a trefoil arch and alongside it is a nicely restored sedilia 
The chancel door is 800 years old and there’s a charming medieval stone plaque on the wall above of St James the Great.

The East window and reredos are flanked by two fine stone decalogue panels

One of the brasses in this church is in front of the N door for Edmund de Ffeyvyll c1500

The churchyard is very overgrown at this time of year with an abundance of wildlife including primroses and cowslips, and I saw a splendid Montana Clematis claiming spreading rights all along one of the churchyard hedges.

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