Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Huntingfield, the church of St Mary.

This Grade 1 listed church is found by negotiating through a myriad of country leafy lanes in Suffolk. It stands a little way back from the road and is a joy to behold, surrounded by mature trees and hedges. 

Just through the church gates is a beautiful memorial cross, it stands adjacent to the gravestone of the Rev and Mrs Holland

The C15 porch has a facade of pretty fushwork and over its arch is a small statue of the Virgin Mary - this replaced the previous one about one hundred years ago.

Inside the porch on the jamb of the church doorway is the remains of a medieval scratch dial and alongside it is a Holy Water stoup.

On entering the church one is struck by the beauty of all the restoration work – not least by the elaborate decoration on both nave and chancel ceilings which was painted by Mrs Mildred Holland (wife of the then Rector) in the years between 1859 -1866. She must have been a very accomplished artist to solely recreate the splendour of a typical late medieval Angel ceiling. It’s nice to know that her labour of love is on show here for all future generations to witness and admire 

The splendid late medieval font is at the West end of the nave and stands before the bell tower which has five bell ropes – there’s a small door which leads from here up steps to the tower. Also in this bell tower mounted on it’s South wall are some stone fragments from a Saxon coffin which were unearthed about a hundred years ago when a local farmer was ploughing one of his fields 

I believe the fine font cover and the glorious brass lectern were added to the church as a memorial to Mrs Holland by her husband. 

The nave has both North and South aisles, with the arcade arches now modified. The chancel was added in C13 

No rood screen remains but there is evidence of a rood stairway and from holes in the chancel arch that there used to be one here.
In the chancel the Vanneck pews have carved greyhounds on their ends, while the others support lions and various saints on theirs 

A table tomb rests on the spot in the north wall of the chancel where an Easter Sepulchre once stood. The tomb is for John Paston who died 1575... The Pastons were a notable Elizabethan family. A few traces of medieval wall painting can still be seen on the wall behind the tomb.

There are some nice wall memorials and ledgerstones  in the church

This church has had some influential patrons through the years. 
 During the middle of the C18 the wealthy Vanneck family added a brick Vault onto the side of the chancel (NB Their carved greyhound emblem at the top corners of the vault walls)..It is the benevolence of this family which provided much of the fine C19 restoration in this church.  

This church is beautifully maintained, the tiles on the chancel floor sparkle with cleanliness. I would strongly recommend a visit from anyone interested in seeing a superb C19 restoration, but be prepared as you might get lost while trying to find this little gem deep in the Suffolk countryside.

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