Sunday, 30 October 2016

Halesworth. The church of St Mary the Virgin

You’ll find this church just away from the busy town centre. It is a welcoming and friendly place of worship  
A war memorial stands inside the church gates which leads up a path to the church’s North entrance.

In the church wall leading up to the the North porch  I noticed weather-worn statues and coats of arms in the buttresses

  The north porch was built by Sir William Argentein to celebrate his safe return from the battle of Agincourt in 1415 

The church interior is quite special, it has arcades dividing the central nave from both the N and S aisles …I understand that C18 galleries once graced the church adding to it’s seating capacity

At the rear of the church stands a lovely brass Eagle lectern from the Victorian era 

 A wooden reredos which was erected in 1914 stands behind the C17 altar table

There are some fine wall memorials including the notable Bedingfield family who lived in Halesworth from 1595-1705

*Dane* stones dating from the C9 were found among rubble when the old chancel arch was replaced in 1889,  these are possibly from the Saxon church which previously stood on this site. They were reset on the South side of the altar near the C19 piscina and sedilia. A C14 piscina is in the North wall of the Sanctuary opposite

The only remaining medieval glass is in the South chancel window and shows the Argentein coat of Arms.

There is a beautiful Vestry doorway in the North chancel wall 

The C15 font is in the typical East Anglian style with carved lions, shields and woodwoses.

A hatchment for Richard Assheton who died in 1641 aged 19 while visiting his uncle here in Halesworth, hangs on the South wall of the chancel near the priest’s door. 

The Lady Chapel also contains a piscina in it’s South wall, and near the altar is a fine modern statue of Madonna and child by Peter Eugene Ball which was sculpted from driftwood.

Over the years the Jacobean pulpit  has stood in a few different positions in the church and would have originally had a sounding board  

There are ledger-stones in the Lady Chapel floor for Sir William Argentein and his wife Margery (sadly now minus their brasses)  Very few church brasses have survived,.  Other ledger-stones can be seen at the West end of the church near the font, including one for William Carey d.1686 a benefactor of this church.

The first director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew was Sir William Jackson Hooker 1785-1865 who had lived in Halesworth between 1809-1820. His son Sir Joseph Hooker later followed in his father’s footsteps in this capacity

Over the outside of the South porch door is a lovely old sundial with a Woodwose overhead  
This is a lovely church to visit with many more items of interest than I have been able to mention here.  
                                     The fine West door >

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