At the sign of the Barking lion...

St Peter, Levington

At the sign of the Barking lion...

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Levington Levington Levington

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          Here on the south-eastern outskirts of Ipswich you enter deep countryside very quickly. Levington village is a non-identical twin to neighbouring Nacton, and the churches of the two are also quite different. Nacton church, a mile or so away, is grand and urban-feeling, restored with karge amounts of landed money in the early 20th century, but St Peter has an authentic rural feel to it, a lovely building, simple and beautiful outside and within. It is set on a hill above the Orwell, beside one of Suffolk's best pubs.

The red brick tower dates from the 1630s, but without any of the Laudian pretensions of that time. You enter the church through the west doorway beneath it, the medieval wooden south porch having been converted into a vestry. Inside, St Peter is small and pleasingly ordinary, white-walled under a barrel-vaulted roof. At some point metal ties have been put in to stop the walls spreading. Brick floors enhance the simplicity, and there are red brick outlines to the windows. The rustic 19th Century benches face a sanctuary which is curiously flanked by 17th century panelling, brought here from Brightwell Hall. The rood beam survives above. Mortlock says that it was revealed when a low ceiling was removed in 1920.

The interior is enhanced by a small amount of good 20th Century glass. In one of the pretty lancets in the south side of the sanctuary is a 1950s St Francis above an un-East Anglian looking church. I would like to know more about it, because it records the death of a family - the father and mother first, and then it seems to suggest that all three of the children died on the same day - can that possibly be right? Was it a terrible accident of some kind? A sobering thought. There is an earlier roundel of Christ in Majesty in the east window, apparently incorporating some medieval glass.

Until the 16th century, there was another medieval church a few hundred yards to the east of this one, at Stratton Hall. Disused at the Reformation, remains of it survived only to be ploughed under in the early 19th century.

Simon Knott, August 2020

Levington Levington
Levington tragedy (unidentified church) Christ in Majesty St Francis

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