Cockfield, Suffolk – St Peter

DSC01571Cockfield is a village with eight greens. There’s a lot going on – see the village website. There is a lane from the war memorial, past the school, and up to the church – with beautiful Suffolk houses on either side. It is a stunning church – there would have been a Saxon village and church, and the village is mentioned in Domesday, as a prosperous manor held by the Abbot of St Edmundsbury until the Dissolution. Since then land has changed hands,  but there is at least one family still farming where their ancestors farmed 400 years ago. The first Rector whose name is known is William de Cullum who  became Rector in 1190. 400 years later Rector John Knewstub was a spokesman at the Hampton Court Conference in 1604 (where James I started the process which led to the King James Bible – fascinating article in History Today). The tower bears the mark of William Ludlam, Rector from 1767, an astronomer – he made a hole (top left) for his telescope. We did a lot about him as we celebrated the Millennium in 2000. A long article about him appears here: Astronomy magazine.

DSC01568DSC01567DSC01563The tower is C14, was almost destroyed in a storm 1774, repaired, then struck by lightning on 2 August 1775. Bet the churchwardens wondered who they had upset. The porch is C15, with some lovely flintwork and carving. The statue over the door was given in 2011 in memory of Luanne Stockwell. She was a lovely, rather eccentric, former actress who, in my day, drove a decorated Citreon round the village. The statue was made by Simon Keeley – details on his website.

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Inside is quite stunning too – decorated style, C14. Since my day they have a temporary nave altar (at least, it looks temporary), and they’ve put the organ up on top of a new kitchen etc. Somewhere I must have some photos of the church roof close up and the view from the scaffolding – that piece of renovation was one I led. I climbed the scaffolding one evening when the workmen had gone home!

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I can understand the desire for a Nave altar, but there is a lot that is fascinating in the Chancel. C15 choir stalls with some misericords. A lovely memorial to the Harvey family – the bust is of James Harvey. This family acquired one of the manors in the C17. In the Sanctuary is an Easter Sepulchre, where the Host was kept and a vigil maintained from Good Friday to Easter morning. It is also the tomb of Sir John Howard – a C16 manuscript describes it as “a toambe under a wall arched of a Knight How’d of Sutton Hall … He was slain by his servauntes”. A C14 piscina and the east window is a memorial to the Reverend Churchill Babington who died in 1889 after doing so much to restore the fabric of the church. It is a Kempe window.

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On the north side of the church are two fonts! C14 and C19 – no doubt you can guess which is which. Lovely C12 aumbry recess as well. The window (at the east end of the north aisle) is of St George – a memorial to Harry Maurice Eyres of the British Consular service, installed in 1964. He served in Syria, Turkey and Egypt. I keep meaning to do something for St George’s Day – sausage and mash plus  an English entertainment. I now have an image for the poster.

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In finding the photo of Harry for Bradfield St Clare I also found a newspaper report from 1997 when I was the pin up Vicar for the Diocese. Once I was young and photogenic …

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