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© Mr Roger G. Goodchild

IoE Number: 279516
Location: CHURCH OF ST MARY, THORNHAM ROAD (south side)
Photographer: Mr Roger G. Goodchild
Date Photographed: 23 September 2002
Date listed: 29 July 1955
Date of last amendment: 29 July 1955
Grade I

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GISLINGHAM THORNHAM ROAD (SOUTH SIDE) TM 0771 6/60 Church of St. Mary 29.7.55 GV I Parish church. C14 chancel, late C15 nave and north porch. Tower collapsed 1598, rebuilt 1638-40 by E. Petto, bricklayer. Refurnished 1802 and late C19. Flint rubble with some red brick and ashlar dressings, nave rendered. English bond red brick tower with reused ashlar dressings. Tiled chancel roof. Grey/green slate roof to nave. A long and wide 5 bay nave, shorter and narrower chancel, north porch, west tower. Unbuttressed chancel with a good east window, 4 tall lights with cusped reticulated tracery in a segmental pointed arched head, wave moulded surround; quoining, moulded kneelers to coped gable end parapet with ridge cross. Chancel to south has a low side door, chamfered pointed arch with hood mould, flanking restored 3-light windows, ogee headed lights with recilinear tracery, 4 centred arched bricked heads, 2 similar windows to north. Slightly taller nave projects further to south, to east a shallow gable parapet with carved angels at ends. Nave to north is divided by 5 two-stage buttresses with moulded plinths, 3 large 3- light Perpendicular windows, trefoil headed ogee lights, taller to centre, brattishing to rectilinear traceried segmental arched heads, hoodmoulds with mask stops; to centre over north porch a smaller 2-light Perpendicular window. Nave to south has 4 identical large windows and 5 similar buttresses, an entrance to centre with a double moulded pointed arch, hoodmould. Nave to west has quoining and double plinth from earlier tower. North porch: outer pointed arch, semi-octagonal responds have moulded caps with fleurons, mouldings across shafts, inner chamfer, outer order with Tudor flowers and little shields with an angel at apex holding arms of donor, R. Chapman and wife; inner face of arch also has shield and flower ornament. Outer spandrels have 2 shields of arms, that of St. Edmund to west, hoodmoulds on 2 crowned lion stops, above arch a panel with R. Chapman's dedicatory inscription. Embattled parapet has pointed arched knapped flint panels, small central gable with a finial over a vaulted canopied ogee niche, outer pinnacles with flushwork. Plinth to 3 stage diagonal buttresses with flushwork panels on outer faces, plain returns with embattled parapets. Porch roof renewed by church wardens, inscribed 'WS 1661 TO', notched ovolo moulded principals and purlins. Inner pointed entrance arch, double order with hoodmould, C17 double doors with strap hinges. West tower has a stone to north in second stage, 'John Darbie Gave One Hundred Pounds Unto this Worke, 1639 MD'. 4 stages separated by string courses, moulded plinth. To west a pointed double chamfered entrance arch, boarded door, above between 2 lower stages is a 3- light window, intersecting tracery, a segmental pointed arch with alternating gauged brick and stone voussoirs. Belfry has chamfered round headed louvred openings with Y tracery. At angles are semi-octagonal buttresses tapering gradually with 3 steps to each of middle stages and 2 to belfry, embattled parapet with corner and intermediate pinnacles. To north a round headed light in third stage; to south a semi-octagonal stair turret, stone capped under a relieving arch, a painted sundial dated 1910, canted angle to south where tower meets nave. Interior: tall pointed chancel arch is off centre to chancel with chamfers flanking a hollow moulding all dying into broadly chamfered responds. Tall pointed tower arch has 5 moulded orders, 2 inner orders stopped on semi-octagonal responds with moulded caps. Fine 10 bay double hammerbeam roof to nave; stone mask corbels support moulded posts, arched braces to brattished hammerbeams from which all terminal angels except to east have been removed, arched braces to brattished collars, 1 truss retains tracery above collar, roll and hollow moulded double purlins and ridge piece, ashlaring to coved and moulded cornice with embattled and Tudor flower brattishing; from 2 collars and 1 hammerbeam towards east hang early timber pulley blocks. 4 bay restored chancel roof, arch braced brattished collars, similarly moulded purlins and ridge piece, ashlaring to similar cornice with embattled brattishing, posts on walls have grotesque figure terminals. In tower a pointed arched door to stair turret. Hollow moulded heads to nave window rear arches. Nave south wall pointed arched tomb recess with a hoodmould. To north of chancel arch a squint opening. Chancel south wall sedilia with cusped heads in window embrasure. To centre of nave is late C15 octagonal font given by R. Chapman, double stepped base with inscription, stem has 4 seated lions and crocketed pinnacles, fleurons and angels up to bowl with 4 Evangelist symbols and 4 angels bearing shields of arms. Towards west end of nave are early benches, partially restored, C15 poppy headed bench ends, 1 damaged figure. Towards east end of nave are fielded panelled and numbered box pews of 1802 incorporating fragments of earlier benches, in centre to north is triple decker pulpit, ball finialed newel posts and panelled frontal to clerk's desk, semi-octagonal pulpit has fielded panels, scrolled brackets to reading board, panelled backboard and octagonal tester with ornamental frieze, dentilled and guilloche bands to cornice, iron hour glass holder. Nave to west has a late C19 boarded gallery. Chancel has late C19 chair stalls, communion rails, Gothic reredos with inscribed panels. On nave walls are traces of early painted inscriptions. Royal Arms of George III in tower arch. Chancel north wall has gedicular mural memorial to A. Bedingfield, d.1652, varied marbles, a kneeling figure with prayer book, below a fielded panel inscribed in Latin and Greek, aedicule has consoles below Corinthian columns, dosserets to a broken segmental pediment, behind a round arch, oval cartouche above. Chancel south wall inscribed tablet to J. Darbye, d.1639, marble obelisk above; to his wife Mary, d.1646, a convex marble oval with draped sides . Numerous C17 and C18 floor slabs in chancel. In tower are painted names of bellringers with ornamental surrounds, also a panel dated 1822 commemorating a ringing. Nave windows retain fragments of C15 glass; towards east on north side, Coronation of the Virgin, St. Catherine and a shield of arms. At time of inspection certain fittings including a C17 font cover, a C17 communion table and a C15 parish chest were temporarily removed from the church. (Suffolk Archaeology, vol XXXIV, p.154: Parish Church Guide, 1981).

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