Saturday, 22 July 2017

Holy Trinity, Blythburgh update

 Holy Trinity, Blythburgh.

This is a church brought back to life from it’s ruinous state. 
The church of Holy Trinity was built in 1412 for the high class rituals of the Catholic church. Originally everything inside of the church would have been brightly painted – today we would have called it garish with  it’s boldness... After the dissolution of the nearby monastery in 1538 the church was beset by mounting problems
… In 1577 during a great storm lightning struck the church spire which sent it crashing down through the roof damaging the font and killing both a man and and a young boy. There’s a superstition that this was the work of the devil in the guise of a large black dog and that it is the dog's claws which made the scorch marks that can be seen down the inner North door.
...In 1644 the church was victim to the Puritan leanings of that time and was stripped of most of it’s fine medieval trappings, even the brass memorial plaques belonging to the tomb slabs in the floor of the Nave were taken up and disposed of....Because of the extreme poverty of the rural community,  and their attendance at the small primitive Methodist chapel, the Church was left to decline… It wasn’t until 1881 that any restoration of Holy Trinity church began to take shape, and it was three years before they were able to open the church to a congregation. 
On approaching the church there are three things of note on the outer wall (a) a Lombardic inscription set into the wall (b) what looks like a medieval font which stands by the porch door and was used as a stoup for holy water, and (c) a modern statuette by Nicholas Mynheer of the Holy Trinity placed in  the niche over the porch door.
The South side of the church is more resplendent than the North side, as it displays  stone grotesques and lion’s heads for all to see....The door on the North side of the church. has a lion and a griffon headstop on either side of the door archway.
On entering inside the church one can immediately see what a majestic building this must have once been. It is spacious with a high ceiling and stone columns with carved heads on on the corbels dividing the nave from the side aisles.  
 There is a row of eighteen clerestory windows along each side of the church which lets light shine in through their plain glass displaying  the ceiling demi angels with arms outstretched in their (albeit now faded) glory.  One of these demi angels is now displayed over the South entrance door, showing how beautiful and vibrant they would have looked originally.   
The pew ends some from the C15 have poppyhead carvings on them depicting the seven deadly sins and the four seasons..
Very little remains of the medieval stained glass from the lower storey of windows in the church, these have mostly been replaced by plain glass.
 Passing through the vaulted porch into the nave there is a flight of circular stone steps on the left which lead up to the Priest’s Room, which is now used for prayer and contemplation. A spy hole in there gives the occupant a good view of one of the alters below.
Facing the porch door is the C15 seventh sacrament octagonal font- originally this would have had lovely carving on it, but this was stripped away in the 1540’s The font stands at the west end of the church looking down the long nave toward the rood screen, chancel and altar…
Just in front of the rood screen stands the beautifully carved 17th century pulpit with flower designs on it's panels.
To the left of the chancel and altar is the chantry chapel dedicated to John Hopton who was Lord of the manor - he died in 1478, his elaborate tomb stands between the chantry chapel  and the chancel
 Inside the chancel are the wonderfully old choir pews with their carvings of the Apostles and Saints
 Some graffiti from 1665 can be seen on one of the choir stalls, it was done by a young Swedish boy who's father had come over from the Lowlands to help East Anglia with it's drainage. 

There are two niches in the stone walls – the one near the organ contains one of the few remaining working*Jack’o the Clock* figures dating from 1682…The other niche holds a modern carving of Virgin and Child by Peter Eugene Bell.

Let into the North wall of the Hopton chapel is the rood staircase which these days lead to nowhere as the rood has long gone.

There's also an alms box dating from 1473
 Tethering rings are set into the pillars by the Great North door. One assumes these were for congregations to tether their waiting horses while they were attending service.
It’s good to see restoration work on Holy Trinity continuing…It would be almost unthinkable  to lose one of our most loveliest of churches . 
There is so much to record about this church, that this is just a fraction of it's history.

With the grace of God this church will still be standing for many more years, for our descendants to visit and worship.

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