Tuesday, 12 February 2019

St Mary's Church, Thornham Parva

This Norman church is small but perfectly formed. It is a thatched church in a tiny parish to the north of the Thornham Estate, home of Lord Henniker. The other side of Thornham estate is Thornham Magna which has it's own church.

Stepping inside, unusually there is no porch, on a cold snowy day in January and lights came on automatically, what a good idea.
This is the reason for this church being in the 100 treasures book  (and more lights came on as I walked towards it)

Behind the altar is a painted oak panel or retable dating all the way back  over six and a half centuries to the 1330s.It is part of a work that was probably originally made for the Dominican Priory in Thetford. It was lost for decades until an ancestor of Lord Henniker bought it at the sale of a farm in Stradbrooke in 1778 it was then forgotten again and found in a stable loft at Thornham Hall in 1927 when it was given to the church. It was during restoration in 1998 that the age of the panel was confirmed. There is another part of this panel in the Musee de Cluny.

But it's not just this panel that people come to see because on the walls are the remains of C14 wall paintings

These show the early years of Christ and the Martyrdom of King Edmund..

The view down the nave
The pulpit is small and neat to suit the church
And looking back from the altar, the font is also small. There is a little gallery from C18 overhead with a round Saxon window, now just looking into the tower which was added in the 1480's
Lovely kneelers  showing buildings in the parish
I wonder if this chest dates all the way back to the beginnings of the church
A board shows how the panels would have looked together with more information

Hope you can read from my photo who all the Saints are

More description of this special little church on the Suffolk Churches Website  HERE

Many Thanks for comments yesterday, apologies for not replying and I also didn't get round to commenting anywhere else either.......sorry

Back Tomorrow


  1. What an absolute treasure of a place. It comes over as special in the photos and it is obviously loved and cared for. That chest is fantastic, I think. Oozing history!

  2. What an interesting little church, and to get a photo of it on with a dusting of snow makes it most charming.

  3. What a little gem this church is. I always love to see ancient wall paintings, and what a horrid end poor King Edmund had, when he refused to fight the Danes and they filled him with arrows and then beheaded him (imagine dead by then). That chest looks 14th C to me - must show it to Keith, as he has a penchant for them. Gorgeous kneelers too,

    The star of the piece are the saints painted on that panelling - thank heavens it was taken out of the church and that is why it survived, despite living in a stable attic! Well done Lord Henniker.

    Thanks Sue.

  4. How lovely vely to see the tulips in this pretty little church. The kneelers are nice also the altar cloth It is so nice that you can look in side so many of this litttle churches. Thank you Sue for sharing St.Marys church.

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  5. What a lot of history packed into one small church. Lovely.

  6. Such a beautiful and charming Church packed with history, a joy to see it.

  7. I really like the short thatched tower, very quirky - and the interior is very special. Thank you for the tour.

  8. Are the wall paintings protected in any way so they don't deteriorate any further? What a charming church! And I love that trunk.

  9. That is a remarkable church and what a story about the retable paintings. It looks like the church is well loved.

  10. Beautiful! Another lovely post

  11. What a lovely little church !

  12. This church spoke to me. It seems so welcoming from your pictures Thank you for sharing.

  13. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your post and definitely will come back someday. I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great work, have a nice weekend!
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