Another church from the book "100 treasures in 100 Suffolk Churches"
A beautiful small church in a very, very small village (population 100) on the edge of Suffolk. Down a narrow lane through the sandy heath land onto a mound that sticks out into the River Alde with marshland all around. In a straight line the sea is only a couple of miles away and when St Botolph founded his monastery here in AD654 it would have been easy to access, but over the last 1300 years the coastline has moved so that the river twists backwards and forwards before reaching the sea at Shingle Street many miles south.
The C14 nave was destroyed by fire in 1968, from the Suffolk Churches website I read this
"On the afternoon of the 4th April, 1968, a gardener clearing the churchyard lit a bonfire to burn rubbish. Sparks from it caught the thatched roof of the nave, and within minutes the whole place was alight. In this remote spot there was no prospect of a speedy rescue, and the church completely burned out, leaving a shell. It took twenty years for repairs to be completed to the extent you find them today, because a dispute over access meant that materials had to be carried by hand from the road; vehicles were not allowed through into the churchyard. First, the chancel was restored for use as the parish church. A rather ill-fitting partition separated it from the ruins. Later, a roof was put on the nave, and the font (which had been removed to protect it from the elements) was returned. But the interior of the nave could not be protected, and for a decade or more it was exposed to the Suffolk winters.".
The pews have been replaced by 19th century benches and look very odd and as Simon Knott says on the Suffolk Churches website..........surely plain wooden chairs would have looked better.
This wooden ceiling replaced many years after the fire is very new compared to the stonework of the church.
The carved Reredos over the altar shows the last supper
Stained glass window above the altar
And this large lump of stone is the reason this church is in the 100 treasures book. It is part of a Saxon cross and was discovered being used as part of the stonework in the C14 tower when it was restored after the fire. It is the lower 1.5 metres of the upright which would have been about 3 metres tall. Possibly a cross erected here in C9 after the Danes destroyed the Monastery.
I wonder where the stone came from..........certainly Not from Suffolk.
Close up of the Saxon carvings decorating the stone
Ancient font saved from the fire
Going round the back of the church you can see how high this mound is above the river Alde
Across the river you can see the big house of the Blackheath Estate, owned by the Wentworth family for many years. They owned huge areas of this bit of Suffolk including, in the early C20, the land on which our smallholding was built, 5 miles North as the crow flies but nearly 10 miles by road.
Much more about this church HERE
(The big black cloud in that first photo started chucking rain on me just as I finished taking the last photo!)