Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Suffolk Summer Part Two

This lovely Elizabethan timber framed farmhouse caught my eye as I drove into Brent Eleigh. For some reason it looked vaguely familiar.

This is the reason why! One of my favourite artists is A R Quinton and in the early 1900s he travelled all round England painting local scenes which were published as postcards by the firm of J.Salmon Ltd. I like his work because he paints the kind of scenes that appeal to me and he has left a pictorial record of the England that existed before the advent of the car. The scene that appealed to me obviously appealed to Alfred Quinton as well and the wonderful thing is that apart from the fact that the lane has a modern tarmac surface the scene is virtually unchanged a hundred years later. Alas the lovely working horses and the geese are no longer there but the green is there and even better is what is not there - no modern buildings have appeared.

St Mary's Church is tucked away up a long quiet lane and hidden away behind trees. It is fortunate in having escaped a Victorian 'restoration' and therefore the outside looks now pretty much as it did when it was built around 1400.

Inside it still has the old box pews and in the chancel behind the altar are some rather special medieval wall paintings. They were whitewashed over at the Reformation and rediscovered in 1960 and are among the most important in England.

This is 14th century and was designed as an altarpiece, it depicts the Crucifixion with the Virgin Mary and St John standing on either side. Clicking on the photo will enlarge it.

This is a detail from the painting on the south side of the altar and shows the priest who was its donor. This painting is late 13th century. Clicking to enlarge this will make the priest's face very clear - a little window into the past.

The Colmans were Lords of the Manor until the male line died out in 1739.

The classic view of Kersey said to be the prettiest village in Suffolk. It shows the little River Brett flowing across the road and the church at the top of the hill. You may be relieved to know that there are no interior photographs as this was the only church I came cross in Suffolk that was actually locked! Although John Appleby (see Part One) doesn't seem to have visited Brent Eleigh he did go to Kersey and was rather disappointed by it though he did like the church which, unlike me,he did get to see the inside of!

Kersey is a typical linear village laid out mostly along one long main street. This is looking from the watersplash in the opposite direction to the church.

I think this cottage is just beautiful with it's pink walls, thatched roof and pretty cottage garden.

The medieval Bell Inn - it has stood here for 700 years and watched all the joys and sorrows of village life. What stories it must have locked in its memory.

Another of Kersey's beautiful old houses.

I'm rather keen on weather vanes and always photograph them if I see attractive or unusual ones.

A final view of Kersey. These lovely houses are on a lane off the main street at the top of the hill near the church.

Hadleigh is a small Suffolk town with a very long history, it was settled first of all in the 5th and 6th centuries by Angles and Friesians from across the North Sea and a century or two later the Vikings made an appearance and also eventually settled in the area though not before they'd done a little raiding and plundering first! Guthrum, the Viking leader who was defeated in battle by Alfred the Great, was converted to Christianity and became the King of what is now northern and eastern England. He died in Hadleigh and is supposedly buried in the church of St Mary pictured above. The present rather splendid church is 14th century but stands on the site of an older Saxon church which is where Guthrum would have been buried.

The 15th century Guildhall which is now a rather splendid venue for weddings. Hadleigh was another of the places visited by John Appleby, he had tea in a tea shop on the High St - now long gone I imagine. He considered Hadleigh to be 'the dullest place in Suffolk' which is perhaps a little harsh!

Some of the many fine old medieval buildings in Hadleigh.

Suffolk is full of lovely old lanes like this, you can see from the patches of grass growing in the middle of the road that there isn't a lot of traffic along here. Who knows where this leads - perhaps back into the past........


Janet said...

How wonderful it must be to have so much history around you. And to have those beautiful old buildings, untouched by time, still standing after hundreds of years. Another marvelous tour!

Sal said...

It all looks so idyllic... with a lot of history too.
I really want to re-visit Suffolk one day !

Hollace said...

I love my Sunday afternoon strolls through the England you show me. I'm sure there must be hustle and bustle there, too, but I always feel the calm in your pictures. I love the architectural interest! Thanks so much.

Wanda..... said...

I enjoyed spending time here reading about the beautiful thatched cottages, churches, and history of Suffolk...along with your was a nice peaceful ending to my wonderful Easter Sunday. Thank You!

Thimbleanna said...

Another great post Rowan. Thanks so much for sharing all the beautiful pictures. It would be hard for me to hold down a normal job if I lived in such a beautiful country! Love the last shot of the lane -- was it not allowed to see where it went?

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

What a lovely tour - and your music is wonderful. Thank you for taking us along. Enchanting!!!

Anonymous said...

You found some lovely scenes Rowan and the addition of the Hollyhocks outside the Farmhouse makes it even better.

Heart in the country said...

Hi Rowan

Thanks for dropping by, and yes I see what you mean about your header....even more spooky, look at my pic against the wonderful american wolf you have on your side panel :0) Love the pictures by the way. And so agree with Chief Seattles comment.

I'll be popping back soon.


Kim said...

Lovely photos Rowan and what a fantastic weathervane :) Thanks for stopping by :)

Kim x

galant said...

Lovely photos, as ever, Rowan, and how I miss Suffolk - not been there for about 6 years. Kersey is a delight. Did you know that the writer Hamnmond Innes lived near the watersplash? I love his book EAST ANGLIA, which was published in 1986 (and into which I've stuffed lots of Suffolk-related cuttings.) Love that pink cottage - it looks straight out of one of the English scenes from A Room with a View. And how grand is the Guildhall at Hadleigh! We knew how to build then. I've been watching a new school being built not a mile from where we live and it looks like it's been built from spare parts from a builder's reclamation yard ... grey brick, sheet metal, concrete, breeze block, some sort of grey ribbed cladding. If a private person designed this and wanted to put it on a plot of land they'd not stand a chance; but a school which is a zillion times larger, and in a promiment position - no problem. It's already, in my eyes, a total eye sore!
Sorry ... end of rant!
Margaret P

Rowan said...

Thimbleanna - the truth about that lane is that I can't remember where I was when I took the photo! So it could lead almost anywhere. Into the past would suit me fine:)

Gretel said...

I've never been to Suffolk; it looks enchanting, and such sweet houses!

Val said...

So good to see a different part of England - the opposite side! We are so fortunate to live in such a lovely country with such a wealth of interesting buildings and history at every turn.

And sometimes all to ourselves, as the quiet lane with the grass in the middle testifies (I treasure those in Dorset too! Not many left now.)

FireLight said...

Once again you have taken me right to the heart of what England is to me: a solid link to the past and some deep, hearfelt connection to those who lived before us...long gone from this world...yet their visions stand before us as if in a painting. I so enjoy your efforts.
I have not been to Suffolk, but I have been to Avebury several times. I can hardly wait to see your images and read your narrative.

Bovey Belle said...

Oh yes - a lane into the past - I'd be walking that one! What lovely Suffolk scenes - takes me back to the holidays at my b-in-law's on the Essex/Suffolk border when the children were small, and we would go exploring.

Rosie said...

I've really enjoyed this second Summer in Suffolk, Rowan - the cottages are so lovely and it is good to see that the exteriors remain virtually unchanged over the last 100 years I wondered if the Colman family were conected to the Norwich mustard ones? I really want to visit Suffolk again now:)

Gracie said...

Thanks a lot for the always lovely photos! Too pity we just crossed Suffolk without stopping in, it surely would have been a well worth visit!
Gracie at

Unknown said...

Hello Rowan,

Another charming tour and a look at a different age. These villages are so attractive and so evocative. One wonders if life in them today is a pure pleasure or perhaps a solemn responsibility?

Sheila said...

A delightful post Rowan, and a lovely glimpse at some of the beautiful cottages and churches in Suffolk. It's good to know that so many places remain unspoiled.
A road back into the past would suit me just fine...

Nao said...

I feel like I have just been on holiday to England. Thank you for this beautiful post. To a Canadian these pastoral images of rustic cottages and old churches look out of a story book. I have always been enchanted by the old world.

PAT said...

More breathtaking photos. A wonderful post, Rowan!!

Anonymous said...

You have such an interesting blog. I am so glad I found my way here. A lovely place to settle down for a good read.

Willow said...

Hi Rowan, thanks for visiting my blog and for your kind comments about Treacle! Yes, the hens are great companions in the garden and very helpful in turning the soil into fine tilth, ready for planting!!

Your photos are so lovely - I especially like the Guilhall and the first timber framed house you featured. I'm about to start an OU course on Shakespeare, so anything Elizabethan catches my eye at the moment!

Willow x

Anonymous said...

Hello Rowan
Thankyou for visiting my blog. I am still very much enjoying reading through yours.
I think it is definitely worth giving felting a go, I am quite new to it myself and loving it.

Anonymous said...

Your lovely posts about Suffolk made me think that if the photographer Chris Chapman was to extend his tv programmes to the east of England he should use you as a contributor! The programme series 'How the West was Made: the nation conquered' was on The History Channel, which I loved because I'm so fond of the south west.

Shirl said...

Beautiful, I love Suffolk and am slowly moving through Essex to get there lol!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Goodness. That pink house made my heart beat a bit faster! Gorgeous!

The Clever Pup said...

Hi Rowan, Thanks for visiting my site with your movie suggestions. I've seen most of those you recommended and I found Enchanted April surprisingly affecting. Why can't I do that just once. I didn't want the movie to end.

Your blog is gorgeous. I love England; that's where my parents were born. I subscribe to the English version of Country Living. The images are so loveley.

Thimbleanna said...

Hi Rowan -- I tried to respond to your comment on my blog, but it bounced back to me. It's complaining about my address, so it must be a problem with my server. Sigh. Anyway, good luck on your sampler!

thesnailgarden said...

Beautiful photos Rowan, I grew up in Norfolk, so I have visited Kersey a long while ago. It's always sad when churches are locked - we couldn't get into any on holiday last week. Best wishes, Pj x

Anonymous said...

The resemblance of the first photo and the picture drawn a hundred years ago is really amazing, although I am missing the geese there... :-)
The St Mary's Church is an interesting medieval building. If I can see it well, the pews have had small doors on their sides... I've never seen that. And when I take a closer look at the paintings I don't find anything "unsound" in them, so what was the reason they were whitewashed over at the Reformation? I should have studied history more diligently...
In summary, the places in your photographs look wonderful and definitely worthy of a visit, they represent the old England I know from movies.

Julie said...

I had read this when you posted it but never commented. I want to thank you so much for all these wonderful glimpses of "the England of my imagination!"