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Gallery: Churches of Suffolk
by Peter Kessler, 13 March 2020
East Suffolk Part 5: Churches of South Elmham,
Ilketshall & Beccles
St Michael's Church, South Elmham St
Michael, is on the eastern side of an unnamed lane around 250 metres
north of the Stubb Lane junction. This is the most easterly of the
seven South Elmham parishes, with a church that originated in 1321.
The origin of the name Elmham is sometimes attributed to Aethelmaer,
the Saxon bishop of East Anglia prior to the Norman arrival. An
alternative is the once abundant elm trees that were removed by
Dutch elm disease.
The church comprises a nave and chancel with a
square tower. It is a small, simple church, but is entered through
a fine Norman doorway on the south side of the nave, with billet
mouldings, and in good preservation. The rest of the building is
mainly fourteenth century, with restoration work being carried out
across the centuries, although it was in keeping with the rustic
feel of the church. Inside is a typically East Anglian font, with
an octagonal bowl of the 1400s.
St Peter's Church, South Elmham St Peter,
stands on the eastern side of the lane, about 110 metres south of
the Wash Lane junction. It was built mainly in the 1200s and 1300s
but some elements are earlier, suggesting a great deal of later
rebuilding. The interior was certainly largely restored by the
Victorians. The porch is dated to the 1400s, but it shelters a
doorway of the 1100s. The blocked north nave doorway dates either
to the late 1100s or early 1200s.
The flint church consists of a nave, chancel,
and west tower. The nave windows include one with 'Y' tracery of
about 1300 on the north side - the rest are of the 1400s. The
chancel arch is of the 1200s and there are indications that a
screen was removed. The medieval font has a Jacobean wooden
cover and some panels against the north wall of the chancel are
the lower part of a sculptured altar tomb which perhaps covered
the remains of one of the Tasburghs.
St Andrew's Church, Ilketshall, is on
the outside of the north-west corner of School Road, approximately
225 metres north of the village hall. A rubble flint construction
initially of the twelfth century, it was expanded and improved in
the fourteenth and fifteenth. The stunning tower is round for the
lower two thirds, and octagonal for the top third, being nineteen
metres in height and containing some Saxon material. The body of
the church may originally have been rendered.
Beccles Baptist Church is on the southern
side of Station Road, about forty metres east of the Newgate
junction. It was opened as the Martyrs' Memorial Chapel (Peculiar
Baptists) in 1861 to replace a previous chapel in London Road.
This was seemingly due to its growing congregation having overfilled
the old building of 1808. Station Road was relatively new, having
been filled with villas for the newly emergent middle class. The
church remains operational today.
Four photos on this page originally published
on Lynne's 'Echoes of the Past' blog and reproduced here with
permission, with one kindly contributed by Sam Weller and one by
Dubris, both via the 'History Files: Churches of the British
Isles' Flickr group. Additional information from Lynne's 'Echoes
of the Past' blog.