At the sign of the Barking lion...

All Saints, Hundon

At the sign of the Barking lion...

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Hundon Hundon

    I'm willing to bet that few Suffolk people even know where Hundon is, let alone have ever been there. It is lost in the hills to the north of Clare, a surprising large place with a pretty High Street and a busy pub. I approached it from Barnadiston, hurtling down the steep hill from the top road, and glad I didn't need to cycle back up it afterwards.
This is a large, Perpendicular building, finished not long before the Reformation. No doubt it enjoyed all the ups and downs of the 17th Century religious wars, the long 18th Century sleep of the Church of England, and the vibrancy and energy of the 19th Century revival. But it is hard to tell now, because the church was completely destroyed by fire one night in February 1914, shortly before the outbreak of the Great War. There is an excellent display about this event and its aftermath at the back of the church, put together by the children of the village school.

The interior successfully retains a sense of the past, and heavens be praised the windows are all full of clear glass. There is plenty of open space of course, but intriguing little details - a wheatsheaf salvaged from an 18th Century memorial, the south chancel aisle panelled with dark wood from the vicarage, surviving roof timbers forming a cross in the south aisle.

A wide, light, simple interior, then, ideally suited for modern Anglican spirituality. Back in 1851, in the days before the fire, the Census of Religious Worship counted just eighty people in the congregation for morning service out of a population of more than twelve hundred, barely one in twelve, a poor turnout even in strongly non-conformist West Suffolk. And yet the two independent chapels in the town were also sparsely populated that morning, managing barely one hundred and twenty attenders between them. All three ministers claimed in their return that the congregations were ordinarily higher. You wonder where everybody was that morning.

  All Saints Hundon

Simon Knott, July 2015


looking east sanctuary north aisle chapel

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