January 15 – A Church micro day around Blythburgh

Reydon, Southwold, South Cove, Wrentham and Wangford.

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

It had been recommended that we visit Blythburgh and today was the day. Blythburgh stands on the Suffolk coast and heaths area of outstanding natural beauty. Holy Trinity is a huge church often called the ‘Cathedral of the Marshes’ which can be seen from miles away and it has many interesting features. The sculpture called ‘Madonna and Child’ by Peter Eugene Ball is very lovely and there are over 20 brasses on the floor of the nave, all of which have been removed. The wooden roof is adorned with twelve angels although it is all unpainted. There were carved bench ends beside the poppyheads on each pew end. There are wonderful carvings of the Apostles and the Evangelists from 1665 on the screen. There is a Purbeck marble tomb chest with a traceried and crested canopy to Sir John Hopton in 1489. There was a “Jack o’ the Clock” which is a mechanical figure which used to be part of a clock for striking the bell of the clock. In this church, we saw a late 15th-century “Arca Domini” or Peter’s pence box. It was used for donations or payments to be made directly to the Roman Catholic Church in Rome. During the 17th century Holy Trinity was badly damaged when Parliament set out to remove what the Puritans deemed to be superstitious ornamentation from churches; Blythburgh was assigned to William Dowsing, a local Puritan, and on 8 April 1644 he went to the church and ordered the removal of “twenty superstitious pictures, one on the outside of the church; two crosses, one on the porch and another on the steeple; and twenty cherubim to be taken down in the church and chancel… and gave order to take down above 200 more within eight days”.

We managed to collect most of the numbers for the church micro at Holy Trinity, Blythburgh without too much problem except for William Ernest George Muffitt and Richard Malvern Allen, both of whom we found on the windows but neither with the full dates required. I managed to work out one number and made a ‘best guess’ for another and the coordinates took us to a very good place but we could not find the cache anywhere and we were not the only ones who had trouble.

Next, we went to Southwold where we visited the pier and drove down past all the brightly coloured beach huts. George Orwell’s parents lived in Southwold and he spent many periods of his life there. There is a clever large-scale wall mural of him by graffiti artist ‘Pure Evil’  drawn onto the back wall of the pier which is well worth the visit.

St Edmund’s church in Southwold is a very beautiful church with a wonderful dado screen depicting eleven disciples and St Paul. The chancel screen from around 1480 is fantastic with elaborately carved tracery. There were three screens in total each with twelve saints, one in front of the organ, one to the chancel and one to the chapel. Each saint had a symbol underneath on a shield and all were very detailed and mostly undamaged. Some faces had been dashed out but not all. There were fifteen misericords and all the bench ends were different carvings. The church had a massive organ and a 15th-century font with a canopy by F.E Howard made in 1935. The early 16th-century octagonal pulpit restored and matching pigeon coop or revolving lectern was elaborately coloured in paint and gold. The revolving lectern is used for the readings, one side was used for Old Testament readings and the other side for New Testament readings. There are steps up to the sanctity where there is an amazing gilt and painted reredos with a fantastic altar cloth. The ceiling of the chancel is painted with eight angels. The rectors are listed from 1314. The church has an octagonal font up two steps and an amazingly beautiful cover. For some reason, we could not find any record f a church micro for this church though I think there is one there, however, we did find one at Sacred Heart in between showers of rain.

Next, we headed up the coast to South Cove and St Lawrence’s church which had a thatched roof. It also had a nice stained glass window. St Nicholas’s church in Wrentham was closed but I found the geocache container but the log was gone. I watched as a small traffic jam took place on the narrow road with everyone wanting to give way to everyone else and then two cars stopped next to each other to talk completely blocking the way.

St Andrews church at Covehithe is a lovely little church which is a Grade I listed building, Part of the church is in ruins and this is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. It has an octagonal font on a pillar decorated with four lions and 4 wildmen (woodwoses). There are no stained glass windows and has a plain altar with a wooden backing with a decalogue on the wall. It is close to the beach here and I would have liked to go there but it was still raining on and off so we left it for another day. We got the geocache though.

St Margaret’s of Antioch at Reydon was a plain church with some stained glass windows and window bays for statues. The church dates from the 1300’s and had some nice kneelers. It also had a Queen Anne coat of arms on the wall. Outside there was an elaborate monument featuring a large angel. The green/blue colour from the angel had leeched down all over the monument stand making it even more beautiful.

The last church of the day was St Peter and St Paul at Wangford and it had a wonderful elaborately carved stone reredos with a marble back with four roundels and a glass cross in front. It was lit up for the back and glowed when we walked in. The entire floor was tiled but each area had a different tile pattern. There was also tile up to about 4 feet up the wall. The church had two lovely matching marquetry pulpits which were originally part of a 17th-century structure at Henham Hall and a colourful array of kneelers. The last church micro of the day was a multi which we were able to find without any problems.

A lovely day out despite the rain which came on and off all day.