At the sign of the Barking lion...

St Andrew, Winston

At the sign of the Barking lion...

home index e-mail what's new? - a journey through the churches of Suffolk



barleycorn   Sheltering at the end of a little lane off of the busy Ipswich to Debenham road, Winston is a pretty little hamlet where, reassuringly, not much happens. It is curious to idly ponder that if Debenham had suffered the 19th century industrialisation of, say, Stowmarket, the town would have reached out and engulfed this little settlement, church and all, and we would now be standing among modern semis, or perhaps beside a distribution warehouse. But the railways did not reach Debenham, and so Debenham did not reach Winston.

The church sits in a churchyard which always seems to be filled with birdsong whenever I visit. St Andrew is by no means a church of outstanding significance, but there is a pleasure in the way time seems not to have moved on a great deal since the late 19th Century. This was when the chancel was rebuilt by the major Arts and Crafts-influenced architect WC Caroe, most notable in Suffolk for his work across the county at Elveden.

Caroe's work here is at first rather depressingly conventional, but because of this the east window comes as a surprise, because it is a small, high opening in the early-16th Century style, the kind of thing which would become very fashionable in the first three decades of the 20th Century. Mortlock suggests that Caroe was replacing a window from Diocesan Architect Richard Phipson's earlier restoration of the 1860s, which had proved too large for the building to be stable on this soft ground, but it may just be that Winston's east window is a pioneer of this revivalist style. The pretty red-brick crow-stepped south porch is genuine early-16th Century, and appears sumpteous against the grey-rendered nave, although there is also a considerable amount of red brick in the corners of the tower above it.

The key mood inside is one of simplicity. Everything seems understated. There is a plain octagonal font, and a set of royal arms for George III out of which all the colours seem to have been bleached. The Victorian benches still have their numbers on, and there are six uninspiring Continental glass panels depicting Apostles set into the nave and chancel windows. At the west end, the angled tower arch is a curiosity, being picked out in red brick. The ghost of an earlier arch is discernible above it.

Perhaps the nicest touch here is the decorative grill to the east window, topped by barleycorns. Below it, the tiny altar was draped in red, which I thought might possibly be in preparation for the penitential season of Lent, due to begin in four days time. But it might just have been there to keep the bats' mess off.


Simon Knott, March 2009

looking east altar chancel Winston
west door G III R Winston X tower arch font
St Matthias St Peter St Andrew St John window 

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