January 8 – A Church Micro day around Wickham Market

Ufford, Clopton, Otley, Debach, Helmingham and Monewden

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

We headed to Wickham Market first today as although we got the church micro on Christmas Day we did not actually go into the church. All Saint’s church is a Grade 2 listed building church built over 700 years ago between 1300 and 1450 with alterations done in the 1870’s but it has been more recently modernised very tastefully inside. The reredos is beautifully gilded with a wooden surround and altar.  There were a painted organ and a wonderful painted ceiling. There is also a lovely wooden carved lectern with an eagle sitting on top of the globe.

Next, we found ourselves at St Mary’s Anglican Church in Ufford which dates back to the 11th century and is a Grade 1 listed building. St Mary The Assumption church is famous for its remarkable medieval wood carvings especially its extraordinary font cover from about 1450, which is tallest medieval font cover in England, being 20 feet (6 metres) high. The notorious 17th Century iconoclast William Dowsing left the structure intact after visiting the church in 1644, noting in his diary that it was “gorgeous… like a pope’s triple crown.” The church has low carved wooden pews with beautiful poppyheads and animals at the pew ends. The painted stone stations of the cross are very lovely. There is an 1898 brass wall plaque to Richard Ballett, the first Goldsmith of Balletts, London. There is a wooden screen at the top and bottom with six saints painted on each side. The wooden ceiling of the chancel and the sanctity has 10 angels while the nave has two big angels and six half angels. There are some small roundels of medieval glass and there is a lovely WW2 window in the chapel. There were also some lovely tapestry kneelers in royal blue with yellow and red, very eye-catching.

Then we found our way back to Melton by accident and I took Mike to see the walk around the harbour and we found one geocache that I missed on my previous walk. Our next visit was Debach where we found a lovely village sign and then on to Clopton and St Mary the Virgin Church. The church has a lovely tiled floor and a late medieval font. It also had a wall monument to John Jeaffreson who died in 1746.

Otley was a difficult place to find a park for the car near the church but we ended up opening the gates and driving into the church grounds. St Mary’s church has an octagonal font and stand. The lovely stained glass window over the altar was very unusual with only a limited number of colours to the memory of Paul Storr, the Regency designer, 1845. There was a wooden reredos with a lovely appliqued altar cloth. The wall monument was to John Gosnold in 1628. Outside was a sign with the word “pightle” on it. It was beside a small pond but actually means a small field or enclosure usually near or surrounding a building such as a house, barn, shed. It is a Suffolk dialect word, I believe and a very nice one too. We also stopped at the village sign and did a cache there which was not part of the village sign series.

The highlight of the day was visiting St Mary’s church at Helmingham. We found the geocache easily before entering this awesome church. We were so glad to have come to this one as it is a very special church with wonderful wall paintings and some amazing Tollemarche family memorials. The altar is plain with no reredos or stained glass window behind but it is flanked by a decalogue with the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles Creed and the Ten Commandments. There are many wall monuments with biblical quotations by John Charles Ryle adorning the walls. There was one spectacular wall monument to four generations of Lionel Tollemache and many other smaller monuments and brasses though no less beautiful to many other Tollemaches both Earls and Barons. Also the Nollekens monument to Lionel Robert Tollemache who was killed at the siege of Valenciennes in 1793 aged 18. The wall monument to Sir Lionel Tollemache, 2nd Baronet of Helmingham, 1591 – 1640 was an especially lovely one.

The last church we visited for the day was St Mary’s at Monewden. We visited the church first and had a good look around, finding an octagonal font with suspended shields and blind tracery on the stem and poppyheads from around 1480. There was also a brass plaque with a coat of arms. When we went to find the cache we were unable to find it even with the aid of our torch. Other people had not found it either so we called it a night.