St Mary’s Church

Star Travel Rating

5/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

Date of travel

2014

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Product country

Product city

Travelled with

Husband

Reasons for trip

This attractive small church sits at the centre of a scattered settlement with a few buildings around it. The rows of rough flint at the base of the north wall may be the remains of an earlier church. This was rebuilt with knapped flints in the 13thC with south aisle, porch and clerestory. There was a major restoration in the 19thC as the fabric was in a very poor state.

The tower is a typical Suffolk square tower with buttresses and battlements. The top course is rougher flint set in masonry which makes it look much paler than the rest of the building. The porch is faced with carved stone and has empty arches which would have contained statues of saints.

There is a massive door into the church. Immediately on the left is a massive triple table top tomb of the Green family. The font cover was sitting on top of it.

The carved stone font is at the back of the church. The carvings on the base were vandalised by the puritans. Beneath the bowl are angel heads. In the panels round the bowl are the symbols of the evangelists alternating with angels holding shields.

On the north wall opposite the doorway is a wall painting of St Christopher with fish swimming round his feet. Next to the doorway is the remains of a text from the Bible. Above the doorway are three small pieces of lead taken from the roof recording dates when work was done on the roof with the churchwardens initials.

There is a wooden screen across the base of the tower with an angel head. There are funeral hatchments at the back of the church and the two flags in the north west corner were placed there at the beginning of the 20thC.

Walls are painted plaster. The nave roof was restored at the end of the 19thC and is an arched braced roof with a carved cornice round the bottom and carved bosses. The south aisle still has its angel roof with carved figures of angels under the wall posts. At the east end is a small altar with a piscina in the wall beside it. The centre of the altar has a small stone slab, the Mensa slab, from the original altar, which was buried under the church floor during the Reformation.

The church has one of the best collections of medieval bench ends in Suffolk. The pews have poppyheads with carved figures at the base. Many of them have been damaged by Puritans. There are animals, birds and figures. We found an elephant, squirrel eating nuts, man and a donkey, a gladiator, bird of prey attacking a lamb, a young girl with her rosary with the devil grinning behind her… The pews on the south side of the nave are 19thC but carved to complement the medieval pews.

The tops of the windows in the north wall contain medieval glass as the Puritans were unable to reach it and break it.

On the left of the chancel arch is the early 1600s wooden carved pulpit with sounding board above. Near it is the 14thC parish chest where church documents were stored. This is bound with iron strapwork.

The chancel floor has encaustic tiles made by Minton. The pews are 19thC. On the north wall is a huge organ. The wooden roof has carved shields at the base of the beams with the initials and emblems of the twelve apostles. A simple table altar stands below the 19thC stained glass window. On the south wall is a sedilia with a piscina next to it.

In the south east corner of the chancel is a medieval statue of the Virgin and child which was found discarded in a ditch in the churchyards .

Again this is an attractive church and the collection of bench ends makes it a worthwhile visit.

The church is open daylight hours. According to the website, there is tea, cake and chat on the first Wednesday of the month at 2.30. There is parking by the village hall reached down a side lane to the to the north of the church.

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