St Andrew’s Church

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This is a large collegiate church set next to the large white building of Wingfield College. These were founded under the will of Sir John de Wingfield who died in 1361. A large chancel with chapel was built to house his tomb and chaplains from the college said daily prayers and masses for his soul. The College was secular college with maser and chaplains and provided the church and neighbouring parishes with a resident priest. It also contained a school to prepare candidates for university. It was surrendered to the crown at the Dissolution of the Monasteries when the master and chaplains were pensioned off. After a chequered history, it is now a private house.

The nave was built by Michael de la Pole who married Katherine, only child of Sir John. Their son William completed work on the church and also built a fortified moated manor house. After the Dissolution, the church became the parish church. It suffered at the hands of the Puritans and little repair work was undertaken until a major restoration in the 19thC.

It is a large flint built church with square battlemented tower at the east end, which looks low compared with the rest of the church. The chancel is as big if not bigger than the nave. Both have clerestories. with flint and brick arches above the windows. Side aisles have big buttresses. The south porch was used by clergy from the college.

Now visitors use the north door. Inside it feels a big church with light flooding through the plain glass windows. Fragments of medieval glass survive in the east window.

Tall slender octagonal pillars support pointed arches separating nave and side aisles. Walls are whitewashed and there is a wagon beam roof in the nave which has heads holding shields. In the chancel the long beams end in carved stone corbels.

The 19thC pews have poppyheads and carved sides.

At the back is the font dating from 1407 with lions round the base and winged angels supporting the bowl. On the panels are winged angels holding shields and lions.

Above the north door is the Royal Coat of Arms.

The arches between the chancel and side chapels were decorated with carved shields and flowers which makes then look fussy. The tops of the pillars are carved with angels.

The pulpit is modern but has the arms of William de la Pole carved on the front.

A beautiful medieval parclose screen with a fan vaulted ceiling separates the side chapels from the nave. The choir stalls are arranged round three sides of the chancel and stand on a plinth pierced with quadrifoil holes which were thought to give a better resonance for the choir. They have carved poppyheads, carved arm rests and misericords as well as candles in a protective glass cylinder.

On the north wall of the c north chancel chapel is the tomb of Sir John de Wingfield, founder of church and college. Set under an ogee arch, the effigy in full armour with head resting on a helmet and feet on a lion was originally painted.

On the south wall of the chancel is the tomb of Michael de la Pole and his wife Katherine, daughter of John de Wingfield. The chancel arch serves as a canopy over the tomb. The effigies are unusual as they were carved of wood which was painted. The niches round the base of the tomb would originally have contained statues of their children. There are more de la Pole monuments on the walls of the south chapel beyond.

The tomb of John de la Pole Duke of Suffolk d 1491 and his wife Elizabeth Plantagenet, sister of Edward IV and Richard III is on the north side of the chancel. The tomb is befitting of their rank and status. He is wearing armour and his head rests on a Saracen’s head and helmet. His feet are on a splendid lion with curly mane. The Duchess has a pillow supported by now headless angels. They are set under an arch with decorated top. Above are heraldic beasts and a tilting helmet.

The south chancel chapel has a small table altar with a painted statue of Mary and Jesus in the south east corner and an archangel in the north west corner.

In the south aisle is a Hudd, a rare example of a late 18/early 19thC shelter used by the priest when conducting a burial service in bad weather.

This is a very attractive church with a lot of character which is open from 10-3,30. There is parking in the De La Pole arms opposite. This serves meals and has three hand pumps.

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