St Mary’s Church

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This church gets 3* in Jenkin’s “Englan’d thousand Best Churches” and google images looked promising, so was added to the list. It is on the south west corner of the village with two nice timber frame houses close by.

From the outside it is an impressive 14thC building with a heavily buttressed brick and flint square tower with stubby crocketed pinnacles at the corners. It has a splendid west doorway with shields and emblems of local families. There are empty statue niches on the buttresses. The long low nave, chancel and side aisles re battlemented and there are sturdy buttresses. Both the church and tower contain Roman brick, but no-one knows where they came from. The south porch is constructed of brick and flint. The room above used to contain a library donated by Thomas Reeve, the vicar from 1685-1719. The north porch is unusual as it is made of Tudor Bricks.

The two doors into the church are marvellous examples of 15thC carving with the tree of Jesse set in a decorative border.

This is another big church inside with tall pillars and pointed arches separating nave and side aisles. On the wall above the arches is a carved frieze with angel heads. There is a simple wagon beam roof .

The Royal Coat of Arms of Queen Victoria hang over the south door.

At the back of the church is the 14thC font. Round the bowl are the symbols of the four evangelists and carved figures. The bowl is supported by angels head and the base has carved arches.The pews are 14thC and have carved poppyheads.

There is a carved wood pulpit standing on re and white flecked marble legs.

The 15thC screen survive across the side chapels, with there delicate tracery at the top.

The very old pews in the chancel were probably part of the rood screen and traces of painting can still be seen on them. They have double sided poppyheads and each side is different.

There is a simple altar in the chancel with a stone reredos behind it. This has ornate carved arches with IHS and a cross in the centre.

There is a splendid memorial on the wall of the north chapel to Sir Francis Mannock d1634. He lies in armour with black marble pillars supporting a canopy with flower motifs under it. Above is a coat of arms. On the back wall is an inscription surrounded by painted shields. His wife, Dorothea is buried nearby under a brass in floor.

In the south chapel is an even more impressive memorial to Lady Anne Windsor d1615 with two daughters kneeling at her feet and a son at her head. The Parliamentary commissioners smashed of the arms of the praying daughters as being a ‘superstitious attitude’. On the back wall are two engraved plates with coats of arms, lions heads and scrolls. Above is a skull with birds wings underneath. At the top of the tomb are more coats of arms.

On the floor is a a chrisom slab for her infant son, wrapped in his swaddling clothes, who died in 1588. He was the elder brother of the son on the tomb.

This is a good church and well worth finding. It is open from 9am until dusk. We parked down the side street to the west of the church. The larger church car park is reached off B1068 to the east of the church.

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