At the sign of the Barking lion...

All Saints, Waldringfield

At the sign of the Barking lion...

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Waldringfield Waldringfield Waldringfield

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          This lovely hill-top church sits above the River Deben, slightly away from its village among beeches and oaks on the pretty road to Newbourne. Its striking Tudor red brick tower probably had the same builder as that of neighbouring Hemley. You can walk here from the Maybush pub down on the quay along a dedicated footpath that cuts across the church field, bringing you out at the highest point of the parish. But the church is tree-surrounded, and you might not even notice the tower until you reach the churchyard.

Like most churches around the Deben estuary, All Saints is small, but it is not without its treasures. Even so, 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 within a medieval shell. But it is open every day, a lovely little Low Church shrine among woods and fields, very peaceful, very English. The most memorable survival is perhaps the 15th Century font, and although the bowl is considerably recut the stem is notable for its woodwoses alternating with seated cowled peasants.

The glass is good of its kind, that to the east dating from the 1860s restoration. Under the tower, the west window contains Powell and Son's Christ the Good Shepherd flanked by St Michael and St Gabriel. Dating from 1923 it remembers Thomas Henry Waller, who was the first in a line of four generations of Wallers who served as rectors here from 1862 to 2013. The last of the line, John Waller, was a real Suffolk character, so perhaps they all were. John was a self-confessed sporting parson, spending half the week intimately involved with his parishioners who he dearly loved, including those who never went to church, and the other half sailing, riding and fishing. He's buried at the little church at lonely Hemley, one of his other parishes, the simple inscription A Man of the People on his headstone. He's much missed locally. On one occasion John pointed out the pot-bellied woodwose on the font to me and declared it was a portrait of himself - and, indeed, there was a slight resemblance.


Simon Knott, August 2020

looking east sanctuary
font stem: pot-bellied wild man (15th Century) font font stem: demure woman (15th Century)
St Michael Good Shepherd with St Michael and St Gabriel St Gabriel

four generations

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