At the sign of the Barking lion...

All Saints, Waldringfield

At the sign of the Barking lion...

 

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16th century tower

from the north-east

from the south-east

from the north-east

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Waldringfield: a lovely hill-top church

This lovely hill-top church is set slightly away from its village, among beeches and oaks on the pretty road to Newbourn. Its Tudor red brick tower is one of Suffolk's finest, and probably had the same builder as neighbouring Hemley. In the churchyard, a decaying horkey cart broods under hanging branches.

You can walk here from the splendid Maybush pub, because there is a newly dedicated footpath that cuts across the church field, bringing you out in the highest point of the parish. But the church is tree-surrounded, and you might not even notice the tower until you reach the graveyard.

There was a mighty restoration here, and although the body of the church was not rebuilt as at Hemley, this is to all intents and purposes a Victorian church in a medieval shell. But it is open every day, a lovely low church shrine among woods and fields. Very English. Like most churches around the Deben estuary, All Saints is small, but it is not without its treasures. The font is a delight, and although the bowl is considerably recut, the stem is fascinating; beturbanned woodwoses alternate with what some think priests, and others think women.

font font font

The Victorian glass is decent, and typical of a rural restoration of a minor building. The best is Powell and Son's under the tower, depicting Christ as the Good Shepherd flanked by St Michael and St Gabriel. Mortlock dated it as 1920s. The crucifixion at the other end of the church is rather more sombre, and must date from the 1860s restoration of the church.

Powell & sons 1860s crucifixion 1920s crucifixion

People who have never been here may know of Waldringfield because of the Vicar, John Waller, who is considered something of a Suffolk character. He styles himself a 'sporting parson', claiming to spend at least two days a week hunting and shooting. He is the fourth generation as vicar in an unbroken line from his great-grandfather, who became vicar here in the 1860s and was responsible for the Victorian restoration. An extraordinary thought!

All Saints, Waldringfield, is two miles east of the Martlesham junction of the A12, between Ipswich and Woodbridge. It is kept open during the day.

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(c) Simon Knott 2006


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