Saturday, 5 August 2017

Hedenham, St Peter's church

St Peter's church, Hedenham

This church stands in a pleasant village, with it’s path rising up to the church door….interesting and perhaps a little disconcerting are the graveyard foot stones which pave the last few yards of this path.
                        Before I went inside the church I took a wander around the outside.

The North wall of the nave has three single C13 lancet windows

The chancel  appears to have been carefully restored and it’s East window has lovely tracery.
The South wall windows are of the perpendicular style, with the West tower and porch being similar. The nave buttresses are gabled and have trefoils beneath the gable ends.  A rood staircase projection is visible from the South side and the tower parapet has stepped battlements.  

Returning back to the South side of the church I found a large memorial tablet on the outer chancel wall for Arthur Jenney who died in 1742….sadly this tablet is badly weathered so I know nothing more about this gentleman..

While in the churchyard I found a row of large flat tombstones belonging to the Carr Family, they each have the family coat of arms on them…I found this unusual as most notable families have a large square family plot for their loved ones to rest in.
Entry into the church is through a late C14 porch door with a sundial above....I have to say this is one of the most friendliest and welcoming churches I've ever visited. Two ladies were inside, one was arranging fresh flowers around the church while the other was busy with a feather duster keeping everything looking pristine. We were offered cups of tea by these ladies who genuinely seemed pleased to talk to us.
The bright airy nave contains a typical C14 font at the West end with it’s carved decoration of roses and shields….There is evidence that this end of the nave is now used for Sunday School purposes
Turning and facing East, one is struck by how colourful the chancel arch and chancel are...the chancel itself seemed dark in comparison to the nave  which has mainly clear glass windows, while the chancel windows are filled with vibrant coloured C19 stained glass.

Sometimes C19 restorations weren't very successful,but this church seems to have embraced it...Besides the painting around the chancel arch, there is similar painting on the walls around the chancel windows. This gives visitors an insight into how medieval churches would have looked.

One doesn’t usually see churches painted in this way now, and personally I found the extravagance of the Victorian Gothic style (c1860) a little overwhelming, although nicely done 

 The restored sedilia in the chancel looks rather splendid        

There are many large impressive wall tablets which adorn the church walls, especially in the chancel where centuries of the respected Bedingfield family are remembered, including one for Philip Bedingfield who died in 1628 - they were the local Lords of the Manor
Also in the chancel are ledger stones to the Bedingfield family and a lovely chalice brass on the stone of Rev Richard Greene who died in 1502…Other memorial tablets in the church are mainly for the Garneys family.

I found the visit to this church fascinating, there is a calm welcoming light atmosphere in the nave with it’s traditional oak benches, in contrast to the busy chancel.
 Grave foot stones which are being used as a pathway up to the church >>

This is a well loved and happy church which has successfully incorporated the new(ish) amongst the old.

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