Friday, April 03, 2009
A Suffolk Summer Part One
I mentioned in a recent post a book I have called Suffolk Summer by John Appleby, he was a member of the USAAF who was stationed at Lavenham in Suffolk and then Thorpe Abbots in Norfolk during WW2. He acquired a bicycle and spent his leaves and days off exploring Suffolk. Quite early on he discovered the art of brass rubbing and from then on he visited as many churches as he could that had brasses worth seeing. Like John Appleby I spend as much time as I can exploring the villages and countryside when I go to Suffolk and since the life and history of the people largely centred around the church I tend to visit a lot of them.
The church in the photograph at the top is St Lawrence, Little Waldingfield which was built in the 14th century. John Appleby came here to do rubbings of the brasses - this one is John Wyncoll, a clothier who died in 1544.
The South Porch with its sundial - it looks very mellow and peaceful in the sunlight.
The Charity Boards on a wall inside the church. Wealthy people often left charitable bequests to assist the poor of their parish, many are still being distributed today. Whether this is the case with the 'Ten Loads of Wood' I don't know, a load of wood would have been very welcome to a poor family in a bitter winter but these days it may have been somehow converted to a cash payment.
This venerable old parish chest is over 700 years old, it dates from about 1300 and would have held the church valuables. There were three locks with each key held by a different person so that there was no danger of anyone making off with the contents.
This is the 14th century church of St Peter, Monks Eleigh, another church built with the wealth that came from wool and the manufacture of cloth. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you will see the bell which chimes the hours set in a cage on top of the tower.
You never know quite what you are going to come across in old churches, this is the parish bier made by the local carpenter in the late 1500s and used to carry coffins to and from the church. At each end there are two folding handles for the pall bearers to use.
Another unusual item in this church is the alms box fixed to a pillar and dated 1636 - three keyholes again you'll notice. They didn't seem to trust their vicars all that much in those days!
The beautiful stone font dates from the 13th century - I wonder how many babies have been baptized there in the last 800 years? Even in a small village like Monks Eleigh it must number several thousand.
As I walked down the road from the church I saw this charming scene which must be what most people visualize when they think of an English country cottage.
Chelsworth is one of the places that John Appleby mentions in his book, he calls it 'the loveliest village in Suffolk' and I'm inclined to agree with him. All Saints church is 13th century.
This medieval wall-painting of The Last Judgement was discovered in 1849 when the church was being re-decorated. During the Reformation all the brightly painted walls in churches were plastered or painted over and many were destroyed completely. Clicking on the photo will make it possible to see it more clearly.
I had a friendly little companion while looking round Chelsworth church.
One of the lovely cottages in the village, I love all the odd angles of the walls. The jetty ( where the top storey overhangs the lower one) is a sure sign of a medieval building.
Another of Chelsworth's attractive cottages, in June each year the village has a 'Gardens Open' to raise money for the upkeep of the church. There are around 20 gardens to visit and it's well worth going if you are in the area on Sunday June 28th. There's a plant stall and a cake stall, two of the gardens do teas, there are flowers in the church and best of all a chance to get a closer look at all these fabulous old places including the local manor house. I'm rather hoping to go myself this year - depends on my husband's cricket fixtures though!