CLIVE PAINE LET LOOSE: JUNE 2012This year's talks are now complete. Thank you very much to Clive for all his work and we hope he will visit some more churches in June 2013.Report from St Mary's church, Ufford , 15 June 2012: As we explored both the interior and exterior of the church our guide, historian Clive Paine, was able to show us signs of how the church was gradually built in the 13 - 15th centuries. We saw how the lower part of the nave's Norman north wall can be seen from the outside and how the varying shape of the pillars, different window styles and raised ceilings reveal the building work and extensions of the 14th and 15th centuries.We all gasped as a miracle of engineering, from so long ago, was revealed when two church members slowly turned the base of the wonderful roof-high pinnacled font cover from c1450, and the structure raised on pulleys to reveal the font below, with it's tiny brass plug in the shape of a cross. With Clive we explored the 15th century benches with poppy heads and carved figures - one able to be dated precisely to 1412 because the woman's headdress was in fashion only in that year!After an evening with Clive, never again will you be baffled in a medievel church by things like the strange little staircases that disappear into a wall - they were to gain access to the statues on top of the rood screen that in Pre-reformation times were part of English Catholic churches. At St Mary's the lower part of the screen is still in-situ and painted with images of female saints - one with a beautiful serene face.Over a lovely buffet and a glass of wine, local people from Ufford said they had learnt much about the history of their much-loved parish church - and we visitors were honoured to have been introduced to such a special place. Together we had all learnt to spot the clues that would reveal the hidden history of other churches we may visit - thanks to church detective, Clive Paine.
Report from St Giles Church Risby, 29th June 2012
Clive Paine is very well known at Risby so there was an especially warm welcome for the large gathering that filled the church for the last of this year's exploration evenings. St. Giles is not a large church but is noted for its round tower and has many points of interest including an excellent 15th century rood screen and a series of wall paintings.
Clive began setting the church in its medieval context by giving us a short but fascinating background to Risby. It was village of three manors, using documentary evidence from the archives and Clive related them to the village as it is today. His vivid description brought the past to life like an excerpt from 'The Great British Story' as broadcast recently by the BBC.
The church we see today dates largely from between the 13th and 15th centuries and there was a good deal of restoration during the 19th century particularly in the chancel.
However the round tower is Saxon and as we explored the exterior with Clive's expert guidance we were soon able to identify other evidence of the Saxon and Norman period.
Prior to the Reformation the interior of churches were bright with wall paintings depicting all kinds of biblical and other stories. Most were whitewashed over but some have been re-discovered. They are often difficult for the modern eye to interpret especially when images from different eras have been painted over each other.
Using an enlarged detailed sketch Clive was able to take us through the wonderful survivals that have been uncovered at Risby and afterwards we were able to examine the walls with a greater understanding of what was being represented and the ideas they conveyed in the mediaeval period.
Much time was spent admiring the beautiful rood screen with its intricate tracery; it is flanked by two beautiful statue niches another unusual survival. There was also much to discover in the chancel including the east and south-east windows that were not only good examples of the 14th century flowing Decorated style but contained a collection of 14th and 15th stained glass arranged by the Rector's wife in the 1840s. Like many of Suffolk's small churches Risby is a box of delights; we had a most enjoyable evening and left having learnt so much.
In June 2012 Clive also visited Little Waldingfield St Lawrence. See Church of the Month for more details of the churches.
Spring Field Day 12 May 2012Some 30 of us gathered at Dennington Hall to be welcomed by Robert Rous our host And Education Officer. It was dry with a cold north wind, and swallows and Martins were wheeling and diving above us. We headed off to our first church:St Michael's Church, FramlinghamHaving parked by arrangement in the Castle car park, we walked through the churchyard to enter the imposing flint building with its parapet lined with angels. We were greeted by the churchwarden Sandra Cartwright, who gave us a full and fascinating talk ranging from the illustrious Howards and Mowbrays who's magnificent tombs lie in the chancel, their history of triumph and disaster, the architectural development of the church full of curiosities, the Tamar organ, and latest addition, a startling modern moveable chancel set of altar, lectern and seats of the finest craftsmanship. We saw drawings for a new kitchen to be installed behind an old wooden panelled screen in the chancel. ST Michael's apart from being filled with historical importance and treasures is clearly a living, vibrant and much loved parish church for the town.St Mary's, DenningtonWhen we arrived, we heard a great bell tolling which made us feel special. Arguably the grandest church n Suffolk, although there are many rivals, this massive building impresses outside, but even more so once you enter the door. It is full of light and its ordered long nave leads the eye to the lofty C14 chancel past the astonishing polychrome C15 par close screen, unique in the country. Robert gave us a succinct outline of the history and main features. The eye is immediately caught by the C18 box pews in the nave. Beyond them earlier family box pews incorporating painted panels and heraldic shields. In one of the side chapels is the Bardolph tomb containing splendid alabaster effigies of Lord Bardolph who fought at Agincourt, and his lady. We saw the triple decker pulpit, the font with its pyramidal cover, the fascinating pew ends carved with beasts including the celebrated and unique sciapod. In all its splendour, it remains a place of serenity and quietness, remote from the bustle of life. We returned to Dennington Hall and sat in the elegant garden for our picnics. It remained dry with cold winds, clouds a, and the swallows and martins overhead.St John the Baptist, BadinghamCarol, Bostock Smith greeted us and lead us to the allotments in the new Community Gardens laid out in the corner of the extensive churchyard. It is the first year, but the site showed great potential for a facility for the parish and wider community. She gave an outline of the church built on high ground, probably on a pre-Christian site, aligned NE/SW so the sun shines down the nave on June 20th, the Feast of St John the Baptist. The large tower was of Norman origin, the fine porch has flushwork panelling and carvings of a wodewose and a dragon. The nave shows much alteration and has two clerestory windows over the site of the rood. The seven sacrament font is one of the finest in the county. The roof is a single hammerbeam carved with flowers and reptiles between spandrels, and decorated with angels, replacing the originals destroyed by Dowsing. In the chancel are two fine C15 tombs, one of Sir Thomas Carbonell and the elaborate one of William Cotton displaying much heraldry of the Cotton and Rous families.St Peter's, BruisyardAfter three great churches, it was a contrast to visit lastly, this simple church set on high ground overlooking the upper Alde valley. Approached by an avenue of limes, the flint church stood in the sun, its Saxon round flint tower tapering from a massive base. It was probably built as a defence against the Danes coming up the shallow river. Sally Wilton gave us a brief description of the church and its development. The nave is plain with a bricked up Norman door in the north wall. The large perpendicular window in the south wall has stone mullions inside, and moulded Tudor brick outside. This and three other similar windows in the Hare chapel in the south transept probably came from the Abbey nearby, when it was demolished in 1536. The Abbey was purchased by Nicholas Hare, a catholic, who built himself a chantry chapel no doubt reusing materials from the Abbe. There is an early font with carved lions round the base, a god Victorian east window, a plain C17 pulpit with testerboard, brasses of two of Nicholas Hare's wives, his having gone missing. The churchwardens gave us all much welcomed tea and biscuits, before we wandered out into the sunshine, after a fascinating day.Patrick Grieve
Explanations of the how to protect lead roofs from thieves, descriptions of how the wildlife in our churchyards can inspire a younger generation and ideas of ways to attract and welcome visitors to our churches were the topics for the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust Winter Study Day 2012.Organised this year for the first time by Trustee, Robert Rous, over 100 Friends of the Trust and visitors, came to Haughley Park Barns where the expert speakers provided something for all.James Halsall, Secretary to the Diocesan Advisory CommitteeWith 10 churches hit by lead thefts every day in the UK (Church Times) this was a subject that had attracted many of those present to attend. James explained, via a revealing graph, how church insurance claims exactly mirrored the rise and fall of the value of lead and why the problem existed (the high value of the lead to overseas manufacturers).With slides to illustrate the damage done to Suffolk's churches (St Helen's in Ipswich had £50 worth of lead taken, but £5,000 of damage was caused) he acknowledged that the solution to the problem laid in Government hands but meanwhile suggested ways to detract the thieves;• Move all wheelie bins out of sight – they are used for transporting the lead and to climb upon.• Protect all lead with SmartWater, as demanded by Ecclesiastical Insurance, but sprinkle it across the surface rather than as daubs as some thieves are using UV torches to identify the marked areas and are cutting around them.• Consider fitting a battery operated roof alarm that triggers klaxon sirens and blue flashing lights when activated.• As a last resort, subject to planning permission etc, and on areas that are not visible, consider alternatives to lead.James also spoke about the Suffolk churches that are creating energy and an income after installing solar photovoltaic screens on unseen areas of their roofs, behind high parapets. An example is Grundisburgh church where they have 40 such panels.His recommended advisory websites are listed in the Links area of this website click here.Susan Stone, the Conservation Adviser and Tracy Housely, Community Conservation Adviser (Suffolk WildlifeTrust) A church and the church yard has often been left undisturbed as a tranquil refuge for generations. This makes it the ideal place for birds, flora, and other wildlife.Susan spoke of the importance of the wildflowers, lichen, veteran trees, the hedges and shrubs as a source of shelter and food for birds, butterflies, insects etc.Accepting that a churchyard can't just be left but needs to be managed, she said that it would always be a balance between the needs of the wildlife and the parish – and the latter was the most important. However, with free advisory visits from the SWT, a way could be found to encourage local people (including young people) to get involved. One of the most important pieces of advice was having Interpretation Boards that explained to the casual visitor that the areas of long grass or piles of cut hay were not a sign of neglect but a deliberate policy to encourage and protect the wildlife. Tracy Housely then introduced a new SWT initiative, Networking Nature, funded by a National Lottery grant, that employs three officers with experience of conservation and/or education, who will be available to help every parish to get involved in restoring, monitoring and enjoying their open spaces via work parties, family days etc.http://www.suffolkwildlifetrust.orgMarion Whelham, Church Buildings and Tourism Officer for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.After reminding us of the importance of historic churches to the tourist industry, Marion then suggested ways to counter the impression that many visitors have that, although churches are unlocked, they can't go inside:• Signage – have a "church open – all welcome to come inside and look" sign.... Use positive messages "Thank you for your donation" or "Thank you for not letting your dog foul our churchyard" ...Replace scruffy posters and remove those that are out-of date.• First impressions – remove dying flowers, rethink scruffy second-hand book stalls, repair crumbling render (or have a neat notice explaining the fundraising needed to do the work).• Decide if your church is to be a quiet place of space, creating an environment of awe and contemplation – or a busy social area with coffee and cake, display boards etc. • Find a way to provide information about what can be seen and (in a non-patronising way) how items in the church are used for worship.• Create a trail or quiz for children and a church guide for adults.• Think of other information that visitors will need – the location of the nearest public toilets if you don't provide them, walks in the area, other attractions nearby (a reciprocal arrangement), where the Parish Records are kept (i.e. the address of the relevant Records Office) and so on.• Have a booklet or display about what happens in the church to show that it is a living space, still used for the purpose for which it was built, hundreds of years before, ie worship.She also gave advice on collection boxes, the best items to sell as souvenirs, and publicity.Marion ended with gave the example of St Johns, Snape where a beautiful sign reads "Welcome to God's House. Please feel at home, have a good look around, take photographs if you wish, or sit quietly and enjoy the peace of this place."http://www.stedmundsbury.anglican.org/index.cfm?page=yourchurch.content&cmid=62Roy Tricker, author of Tricker's Church Guides.Roy has now written 245 church guides from producing leaflets of a couple of pages copied on a school duplicator, to the glossy colour booklets often expected today. He brought his years of experience to the Winter Study Day, saying that anyone who loved a church could write the guide, then explaining how he goes about it:• Think what visitors want: a walk-around guide, something to read at home or a souvenir of colour photographs.• Beware as you write of "church experts" and don't make assumptions. Use phrases such as "it may well have been," "possibly....." or "people have thought that..."• Before reading any other guidebooks, spend days in the church making notes, taking photos, forming impressions... only then compare your thoughts to the established texts.• Research the history of the church via wills, the Religious Census, and parish files held at the Records Office. Good resources there also include the microfilms of David Elisha Davy's church visits (1800-1846) and the sketches of Isaac Johnson.• Include a chronology of the church, with news stories, anecdotes about the clergy or local worshippers .... a walk around the outside and inside of the building.... information about the hidden items (vestry, organ)....an explanation of what everything is for ....and all the names listed on memorials for those visitors tracing their family trees.Roy ended by stressing that guides should be friendly, welcoming and should praise the church and enthuse the reader.Next Event: Spring Field Day 2012 - 12th May. Details to be announced. Rachel Sloane
SPRING FIELD DAY 7th MAY 2011
It was an usually warm and sunny spring day for the SHCT Annual Field Day. Christopher Spicer had organised an excellent day’s ‘Church Crawling’ for his 10th and final Field Day as our Education Officer. There was a very good turnout and we gathered in Gazeley, near Newmarket where kindly hosts had invited us to use their garden as our base for the day. In the morning we visited nearby Dalham, Moulton and Higham with Roy Tricker as our guide. Although geographically close they were very different buildings and there was much to see. In the afternoon Clive Paine arrived to guide us around Gazeley church.
Assembling at our first stop Dalham St. Mary. The church is well out of the village but adjacent to the magnificent Dalham Hall with wonderful views over the surrounding countryside.
Dalham, the battlements are a typical feature of the churches in this part of Suffolk on the border with Cambridgeshire. On the north side is the ruined mausoleum of the Affleck family.
Exploring the Nave. Dalham has a very interesting interior, remains of medieval wall paintings, dado section of the rood screen, monuments and more besides.
Arriving at Moulton St.Peter no doubt about the dedication with its distinctive weather vane in the shape of a fish. Moulton is famous for its 15th century packhorse bridge and the church is approached via a bridge or a ford over the River Kennet.
Perpendicular splendour! the nave arcade and the clerestory windows with a fine stone frieze. Although he church was re-built in the later medieval period but there is also good evidence of an earlier Norman church.
Hidden in a corner is this rare survival, possibly from the earlier church, an ancient stone panel of two naked figures, may be a fertility symbol or perhaps a warning against the sins of the flesh?
Higham St. Stephen is a rarity in Suffolk a new church built in 1861to save the inhabitants of this hamlet the journey to Gazeley each Sunday.
Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott with echoes of the Suffolk style a very different atmosphere. This round tower takes its inspiration from nearby Little Saxham.
Roy Tricker in the pulpit explains the virtues of this most unusual and fascinating Victorian church
We returned to Gazeley where we had been invited to enjoy our picnic lunches in a delightful summer garden.
We had a warm welcome at All Saints Gazeley, where Clive Paine shared his enthusiasm for this large and interesting church.
The afternoon ended with a celebration of Evensong lead by the Revd Stephen Mitchell with support from Roy Tricker and Clive Paine now enrobed both being C of E Readers. We were in good voice as we joined in several well loved hymns. Roy gave a heartfelt address about the glories of our churches during which he thanked Christopher Spicer for his dedication in organising our Field and Study Days during the last 10 years. After the service the Gazeley ladies provided us with a most welcome tea; the perfect end to a perfect day.