At the sign of the Barking lion...

All Saints, Little Bealings

At the sign of the Barking lion...

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Little Bealings: click to view large

from the north-east nave becomes chancel south side
Robert brick anthropomorphic tomb who died of wounds Susan  

You don't have to head far out of Ipswich into the wooded hills north-east of the Borough to find yourself in pleasingly remote and self-contained villages in the valley of the pretty River Fynn. We are not far from the monotonous suburbia of Kesgrave, but the woods close it off, and once you cross the railway line this is a quintessentially rural setting. The pretty church sits on a hillside above the village street.

There is not a great deal to tell you about All Saints. It is not particularly significant in terms of history and architecture, but no one who has been there will forget it easily, an utterly charming and dignified building which has the marks of a successful Victorian restoration. An avenue of limes leads up to one of those south-west towers which are common in the villages around Ipswich.

Inside, the nave is small but light, and the north aisle creates a sense of space and squareness. When I wrote about this church in 2001 I was sorry to see the way the 19th century pitch pine benches rather disrupted the harmony, but many of these have now been removed. In 2007, as I had in 2001 and on several occasions since, I found the church open to visitors, strangers and pilgrims, with a bird grill protecting the priest's door into the still largely 13th century chancel. The light filtering through creates a lovely effect.

When David Davy came here in the early 19th century, he found a large stove in the middle of the nave. He also found the pulpit at the back of the church, and the box pews of the time arranged so that they faced it. This was a common arrangement in the 'preaching houses' of the post-Reformation English church, and is similarly documented at Wickhambrook, and at Bramford where the pulpit was in the middle of the south aisle.

It was an attempt to break the link between the eastward focus on the altar, and the Catholic sacraments. Of course, the Victorians were to restore this link almost everywhere. I had a pleasant wander around the steep churchyard, and found the blacksmith's grave described by Mortlock (now sadly illegible). When I returned to my bike, I found a couple of hikers sitting on the bench outside the south porch, eating their sandwiches in the sunshine, and gazing out across the Fynn valley. It seemed a fitting thing to happen in this most hospitable place.

Simon Knott, 2001, updated 2007

looking east looking north-west arcade font
way in chancel south wall charity board memorials
kneelers sanctus sanctus sanctus church notices kneelers
holy holy holy east window window crucifixion Lord God Almighty
Resurrection Gethsemane Bengal Civil Service Resurrection Disciples asleep

 

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