January 2 – A geocaching day around Dennington, Saxstead, Ashfield, Bedfield,

Southolt, Monk Soham, Earl Soham, Ashfield-cum-Thorpe, Kenton, Bedingfield, Athelington, Worlingworth and Tannington.

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

We headed off again for another day of visiting churches and collecting church micros.

We had a look for the church micro at Framlingham yesterday but after checking all the previous logs we went back today to have another look. We still didn’t find anything so we moved on. We went to look for the church micro at Dennington but we were unable to find it. We were just driving away when I saw another CM on the GPS so we turned around and went back, then realised it had the same number, the first one had been archived and replaced by this one. It was in a different place and we found it quickly. We are grateful that ‘TheStowMartians’ have rehidden one of ‘Suffolk country girls’ caches.

St Mary’s church, Dennington seemed to be a big church for the size of the village and it had 64 15th-century decorative pew ends that were badly damaged during the Dowsing times. It had two chapels, the Bardolph chantry had an alabaster tomb which was painted and gilded for William, Lord Bardolf. There was also a chest tomb of Sir William Phelip, 6th Baron Bardolf (c.1380-1441) and his wife Joan, daughter of Thomas Bardolf, 5th Baron Bardolf. There was a painted Parclose screen, c1450 on both sides of the box pews beside the chapels. The most amazing find was the 14th-century ‘peters pence box’ by which payment was made to the Pope, initially as a donation and later as a tax. The church also had a lovely three-tiered pulpit dating from 1625 with the addition of a middle and a lower deck. There was also a long sandbox where children practised their writing.

All Saint’s church in Saxted had no tower, spire or bells and it looks like the small chancel was added later. It had a George II coat of arms and a 15th-century octagonal font in front of the blue and white painted organ. There was a formidable set of stocks in the entranceway.

St Mary’s church in Earl Soham had a Charles II coat of arms and a lovely 15th-century octagonal font with a list of rectors from 1294 beginning with Richard de Overton. There is a great variety of pew endings with sets of animals possibly depicting Noah’s Ark. The back stained glass window also had Noah’s Ark on it. The main window over the altar is a lovely one by Burlison and Grylls in 1906.

Next, we visited St Mary’s church in Ashfield-cum-Thorpe and then St Peter’s church in Monk Soham. We found the church micro for St Peter’s and could see the church over the field. As it was raining we did not want to walk but finding a way to the church by car was quite challenging. The track turned out to be quite muddy and we were worried we might get stuck. We were OK though. The church had a wide window over the altar and no stained glass windows at all. It had a great ‘Seven Sacrament’ font and a lovely selection of kneelers with a list of churchwardens from 1553.

St Nicholas church in Bedfield had an 1870 reredos which was very impressive which incorporated the Lord’s Prayer, Apostles Creed and the Ten Commandments. There was an old arch at the back of the church. There was a fine 15th-century dado painted with eight Old Testament prophets either side of the entry to the chancel. They are very good, intact examples of the art. The church had no stained glass or coat of arms.

We found a great collection of village signs during the day many with geocaches at them.

All Saint’s church in Kenton had some lovely tile work in the sanctity. Also matching stained glass windows in the chancel and the sanctity of St Peter, St Paul, St Mary and others. The South doorway dated from 1180-90. There were poppy heads on all the pews and great collection green kneelers. There was an octagonal font from 1844 with marble pillars and a 13th-century bowl of Purbeck marble.

On searching for the geocache at St Mary’s in Bedingfield initially, the GPS was taking us away from the gate but after visiting the church it was spot on and Mike found the cache easily with a good hint. There was a big funerary hatchment for the Bedingfield family, a coat of arms and an octagonal pulpit. It also had a 15th-century iron-bound chest. At St Margaret’s in Southolt, we had a surprisingly easy find but the church was closed. It had been raining on and off all day, mostly on, and we were cold and wet so decided we should head home but then we saw the place name Athelington and feel it was named after Edgar Aethling so went to have a look. The church was closed sadly but we found the cache very quickly. We have since met the lady who holds the keys to the church and will call in if we are back up that way to have a look at the church. As usual, even though we had decided to go home we still managed to call at two more churches on the way home. St Mary’s in Worlingworth was closed but we found the cache.

Just one more and this time it really was our last one. But it is hard to pass up one dedicated to St Ethelbert, this one in Tannington. Its claim to fame is a Queen Elizabeth II coat of arms, one of only five in East Anglia. The tile work in the sanctity is lovely and has brasses removed. It is a plain church with damaged poppyheads on the pew ends from the Dowsing. It also had a hatchment to a member of the Barker family and an early 17th-century alabaster wall monument to the Dade family. The commemorative window to churchwarden Reginald Harvey in 1976 is a lovely example of modern stained glass.

A great day despite the less than perfect weather, but it is winter so it could have been worse. We found 17 geocaches including 12 church micros and 5 village signs.