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Modern Britain

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, Suffolk

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.

St Michael's Church, South Elmham St Michael, Suffolk

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, Suffolk

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.

St Peter's Church, South Elmham St Peter, Suffolk

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, Suffolk

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, Beccles, Suffolk

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.

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