Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic
Another day out and about exploring East Suffolk.First on our list was St Andrews at Marlesford where we found the church micro without any problems. It is a lovely church with two lovely Ward and Hughes stained glass windows from the 1880’s and another by Cox and Son from 1870. The 10 Commandments are behind the altar and there is a list of rectors from 1319. There are also floor monuments and wall monuments including an alabaster and black veined marble wall monument to William and Avis Alston from 1641. Also a funerary hatchment to William Shuldhan.
While we were at All Saints church Mike realised that he did not have the memory card inside his camera so we had to return to the house to get it. In All Saints is one of Suffolk’s thirteen Seven Sacrament fonts, one of the best of its kind and a real treasure from the late 15th-century. There are carved wooden wall plates with angels along the main intersections of the ceiling and a great array of colourful kneelers. All the churches we saw today were decorated with Christmas decorations which was lovely.
Next, we went to St Mary Magdalene in Sternfield where the church was closed but the cache was quickly found. At St John’s church in Saxmundham, the church has been closed for repairs since September 2017 but the date for the work finishing was December 15th so we entered the church for a quick look. The inside of the church was cleared out as the repair work hasn’t quite finished and there were men outside on scaffolding and the floor inside has recently been cleaned. We took off our shoes so that we could have a look. Just to the right of the door was a stunning stained glass window of the “Ressurection and the Life”. There were also lovely windows in the side chapel including one with roundels of Netherlandish glass from 1500 – 1530. The roundel is formed from a single circular pane of glass. The glass-painter drew the design with a simple brown/black pigment composed of iron filings and ground glass. He then highlighted areas of the design in yellow, in a technique known as ‘silver staining’. To do this, he painted a silver compound onto the back of the glass. When the glass was fired, this compound changed colour, to a lemon-yellow to a burnt-orange range depending on its concentration. Silver staining was first used on window glass in Europe in the early 14th century. The reredos behind the altar was carved by Saxmundham stonemason, Thomas Thurow in 1873 and includes the brass Decalogue. A very special church but we were unable to locate the cache.
At St Mary Magdalene’s church, Friston, parts of which date from the Norman period and the rest from the 14th-century, we were greeted by a lovely Father Christmas inside the porch. The memorial stained glass window was to John Henry Wingfield from 1899. The altar and the painted wood reredos are from the early 20th-century. The church also had a huge wooden carved James I Royal Coat of Arms which is 8 ft wide by 6 ft high and 6 inches thick. When we arrived at the church it was closed but we really wanted to see inside as we could see the coat of arms through the window so we walked up the road to find one of the churchwardens. Peter Fife kindly took us back to the church and opened up for us and we were so glad he did. The wall and the ceilings are beautifully painted with decorative patterns in paint and gilt in Victorian times. The church contains a Tudor Bible written in 1550 and is possibly the first Bible to have ever been used in St Mary’s church.
By now it was starting to get late as we are only three days away from the shortest day and by 4 pm it is already too dark to geocache. We visited one more church in Snape before returning home. St John the Baptist has a brilliant octagonal 15th-century font with carved faves with carvings also on the stem and the underside of the bowl. The base has a quatrefoil frieze and an inscription around the top. There is a painted pipe organ behind it and a lovely stained glass window by M. Lowndes over the beautifully embroidered altar frontal. In the graveyard, we noticed a headstone to Lance Sieveking who was a writer and radio pioneer.
On the way home we passed a village sign for Stratford St Andrew and a grade II listed historic Hurts Hall at Saxmundham built in 1893 and currently on the market for £1.350.000, an impressive sight indeed.