pronounced Henningum, is, of course, most famous
for Heveningham Hall, the biggest, grandest, stately home
in Suffolk. More of the hall in a moment. But it is worth
observing that this is not the closest village to the
hall. Huntingfield spreads beneath its frontage,
are also close at hand. This is a land of many villages,
many churches, but few people.
Heveningham is much older than
the hall. St Margaret sits on a hilltop site close to the
old Roman road, two facts that suggest great antiquity.
Farms of the estate surround the village.
perhaps - St Margaret and its slate roof.
of today is largely Perpendicular, with much evidence of
a Decorated predecessor. The brick clerestory is quite
late, perhaps 1530s. It puts one in mind of the fine
brick tower of neighbouring Ubbeston. But this is rather a dour
building, despite the clerestory. That may be a
combination of the slate roof, and the dull weather on
the day I visited. The tower itself is very typically
Suffolk; the buttresses taper prettily, and the rendered
walls of the nave are more successful than nearby Chediston. The graveyard has been allowed
to grow wild, a fashion to be encouraged.
south aisle and Tudor clerestory.
||You step from
the little porch down into the interior, another
sign of an early site. Inside, all is very
Victorian, but some of this work is interesting,
as we shall see.
There are two fonts; the one in the
usual place dates from the 19th century
restoration, but a medieval font will be found a
few yards away by the former north door. It was
brought here from Ubbeston, when that church fell
redundant in the 1970s.
century hammerbeam roof is a good one, and there
are some very unusual survivals; statues of
saints in alcoves in the wallposts. It seems
inconceivable that these could have survived both
the Reformers' fury at images, and the two-day
visit of William Dowsing a hundred years later.
Maybe they survived through being apostles rather
than non-biblical saints. Or maybe they were too
A pretty image
niche stands beside the 19th Century chancel
arch, with some of its original paint surviving.
What at first
appears to be a chapel to the north is, in fact,
a nineteenth century manorial annex, built for
the Huntingfields of Heveningham Hall. Their pews
still fill it.
|Before you are
too harsh on the stained glass windows, they were
designed by Ann Owen, wife of the rector in the
1850s and 1860s. They are delightfully
sentimental, I think. It is interesting that this
church is less than a mile away from Huntingfield, where the rector's
wife, Mildred Holland, more famously redecorated
the ceilings in the 1860s. Were these two women
colleagues or rivals, one wonders?
It appears that the
internal windows of the clerestory have also been
renewed, perhaps in the 18th century.
most striking feature of the church is the oaken
effigy of a knight, Sir John Heveningham. It
dates from about 1450, and supposedly once had a
partner, his wife. These two effigies were thrown
out into the churchyard during the 19th century
restoration, and were consigned to a bonfire. Sir
John was rescued, but his wife succumbed to the
flames. Only one other wooden effigy of this age
survives in Suffolk, across the county at Bures.
Hall was built for the Dutchman Gerard Vanneck in
the late 18th century. Robert Taylor was the
architect, and Capability Brown laid out the
Park. Despite falling into disrepair during an
inheritance dispute in the 1980s, it now looks
magnificent from the Huntingfield road, one of
England's stateliest and longest Georgian
niche (right) and the arch of the manorial annex,
through the green glass of the south aisle of the
was built in the grounds of an earlier building, which
had been home to the Heveningham family. No trace remains
of this, although, as already mentioned, at least one of
the memorials of the Heveninghams can be found in the
church, the oak effigy of Sir John Heveningham. It is
claimed that the Heveninghams are one of Suffolk's oldest
families. According to Dutt's Suffolk, the manor was
granted to Sir Philip de Heveningham in 1271, and a
Galtar Heveningham was Lord of the Manor in the reign of
Cnut. Presumably, their castle was near the hilltop site
of the present church.
On the day
I visited to take photographs, I found the church locked,
and the keyholder out. I shall endeavour to visit this
church again, and will update this entry when I have done
also see the entry for this church at Aidan Semmens' Sylly
Margaret, Heveningham, is located on the B1117 Halesworth to
Stradbroke road, just west of Heveningham Hall. It is
locked, but a keyholder is listed. See MAP