Fressingfield Parish Church - SS Peter & Paul (interior)



old etching of interior

Aldous Family crest


Observations: The brown and black squares stone-tiles of the floor. The locked wooden strong-box chest for parish records, tithes and other valuables, girded with metal bands, hinges and two locks. The stoutly massive dark oak-slabbed door with its black iron hinges and wooden barbrace.

The stained glass windows with brightly coloured feminine interpretations of faith and hope and love. The mother and child. The ornate, carved poppy-ended pews, one initialed by Alice de la Pole, Chaucer's granddaughter. The limestone and greystone pillars. The high hammer-beam roof with holes at the walls where the outstredged angels of blessing had been removed by the iconoclastic henchman and vandal's of Dowsing.

Ancient wooden benches with high poppy-crosses, on either side of the southwest porch. From the black-lead digagonally-crossed mullioned-windows of the south-west entrance porch can be seen the cemetery stones and, to the south, the ancient orange-red and the grey black of the brick and timber of the guildhall, built to honour St. Margaret.

The dark evening shadows of the church. The stark grey light of the eastern window of the south chapel.The large painting of the Archbishop, in his black and white robes, the scowl still marking the perturbation and the determination of a man who had refused to follow the orders of his king, and who was fortunate to live to return to his native village, when others had so quickly lost their heads in the Tower of London.

The warm horizontal brown and tan play of the wooden pews in the evening shadows. The plane and eroded octagonal font, short, stubby, with dark wooden cover. The two massive stone slabs that formed the interior steps up to the entrance door.The lime walls that cover ornate, colourful, anciently beautiful murals, whitewashed-over by postReformation zealots.

The arched and spreading stone columns. The massive capitals meeting the dark wooden hammerbeamed roof, where it has slipped down like brown frosting onto the lime and white of the walls.

the ancient font - where Barbers have been baptized for centuries.

During the 14th and 15th centuries, the aisles were added and the beautiful clerestorey windows were inserted to give more light to the nave. The south aisle was certainly inplace by 1420, for it was about this time that the handsome south porch was built by Catherine de la Pole (of nearby Wingfield Castle), in memory of her husband, who died of dysentery at the Siege of Harfleur, and her eldest son, who was killed at Agincourt. The final piece of major alteration to the fabric took place about 1511, when the north aisle was extended eastwards to form the Guild Chapel of St. Margaret. John Bohun bequeathed 10 marks for "the newe birding of an lie on the north side of the chancel." In this extension the builders carefully reset the three-light window from the chancel and the doorway. In 1547, a Mr. Toppysfylde gave a silver pyx for this ailse.

The interior of the church in this time blazed with colour. Before the Reformation, when the liturgy and the Bible were in the Latin tongue which were not understood by the majority of the people, the parish church itself was the people's Bible and manual of Religious Education. Hence the walls, windows, screens, etc. were covered with pictures and the woodwork and stonework were carved with figures and religious symbols. The magnificent nave roof was in place by the end of the 15th century and the fine set of benches were inserted about 1470. Beneath the chancel arch was the great rood or crucifix, which proclaimed the central theme of faith. This was set above the elaborate rood screen and its rood loft. Above, on the eastern gable of the nave, the sanctus Bell, given by Bohun in 1496, would have rung out to announce the important parts of the Mass to the labourers in the field.

After the Reformation when the English Bible was freely available and the Book of Common Prayer made worship more meaningful, the need for much of the rich and colourful interior decoration ceaase, and a tremendous amount of beauty and colour disappeared from the churches. Even what remained underwent a further purge in the mid 17th century, when the Puritans destroyed what they believed to be "superstitious images and inscriptions" in the churches. Fressingfield was visited by the Earl of Manchester's agents for this purpose, although William Dowsing (from nearby Laxfield and the 'Parliamentary Vistor' for Suffolk) does not record a visit in his journal. By 1700 most of the mediaeval glass had gone from the windows, the rood and most of its screen had disappeared, and it was probably also about this time that Me piscine (for washing Communion vessels) and sedilia (triple seat for priests) in the south wall of the sanctuary were filled in with plaster.

The church possesses some remains from mediaeval times, the most noteworthy features being its benches and fine roof. The tower contains a peal of eight bells.

In the early 1800's the whole of the west end was occupied by a "handsome painted gallery," which was erected in 1700. Above it was a set of Royal Arms of James II, dated 1687. The galley was originally erected for singers but this part of devotion had been discontinued here for some time. The font was totally defaced and crowned by a plain wooden cover. Near the south side of the chancel arch stood a fine three-decker pulpit, dated 1609, which incorporated a hexagonal pulpit stage, a priest's stall and a clerk's stall. It was all painted dark brown and the reading desks were supported by richly carved brackets.

In the chancel were some large box-pews and the Communion Table was raised on two steps and railed off. Above it were four framed compartments on which were painted the Lord's Prayer, Apostles' Creed and Ten Commandments. In the north wall of the chancel was an aumbry (enclosed recess for Communion vessels) with an oak shelf. In the south wall could be seen the band of stonework above the sedilia.

Medieval benches stood present and the roofs were handsome. There are traces of mediaeval colouring remaining on the roof timbers at the east end of the south aisle. There is some mediaeval glass remaining in the windows. The east window of the north aisle contains six very mutilated human figures of the Apostles. In a western window of this aisle are remains of traceried architectural canopies, flowers and and a shield. The west window of the south aisle contains in its tracery two more human figures, described as "an ancient person giving benediction and a person preaching." Two shields remain in the windows above the chancel arch and the letters B and W in circular compartments can be seen in one of the northern chancel windows. The south windows of the chancel contains more old glass. In the easternmost is another Breuse shield and in another window are seven shields. A second shield bearing the emblem of the Trinity can be seen in a north aisle window, but by the ignorance of the glazier it had been placed upside-down.

The chancel arch was once an arch which led to a building attached to the east end ot the church.

There are many painted shields at the bases of the wall-posts supporting the chancel and north chapel roofs were in place. In the north chapel are the remains of the lower part of the rood screen which has traces of its original colour. It is curiously carved, gilt and painted.

In 1819 two new treble bells were added to the tower.

the parish chest

In 1834, the church plate was stolen. The Ipswich Journal for December 13th, 1834, gave notice by the Churchwardens of an offering of a reward of 25 pounds for the capture of the "person who did felonously enter the parish church of Fressingfield, broke open the parish chest and stole therefrom the Communion plate." The haul consisted of a silver flagon, chalice with cover, almsdish and paten, all inscribed "Deo servatori sacrum Ad usam ecclesiae de ffresenfeld Dioeces Norvic." The plate was of 17th century date and it was believed that Archbishop Sancroft had presented it to the church.

The north and south Aisles are lit by Perpendicular windows of early 15th century, with the exception of the west window in the south aisle which has pretty tracery in the Decorated style of the preceding century. In the north chapel wall, the reset early 14th century windows and doorway. Both have interesting original corbel heads. The east windows of both aisles are good three-light Perpendicular windows. Above the aisles rises the handsome 15th century Clerestorey, with sets of six fine Perpendicular windows each side. High in the east wall of the nave is another three-light window, which gave valuable extra light to the mediaeval interior.

Crowning the eastern gable of the nave is the Sanctus Bell Turret. This is a beautiful and unusual feature and is thought to be the finest of its type in the county. It is built of stone (probably to house the new Sanctus bell given in 1496) and is supported by its own miniature buttresses, and having traceried panels on its north and south sides. Above its carved parapet rises a central pinnacle surmounted by a cross.

On the north side of the Chancel is an early 14th century window with original corbel heads. The south wall is pierced by a pair of large Perpendicular windows, of which the westernmost has corbel heads. The east window, is not original, but is a later replacement of a 14th century window, although the original corbel heads remain. The east wall has been re-faced with knapped flints.

The North Porch has been greatly restored, but it gives access to a good north doorway, which preserves its mediaeval door.

There is no western tower arch, but there is a large west doorway, the door of which incorporates mediaeval timbers.

The crowning glory of the nave is a superb single hammerbeam roof. This is an excellent piece of 15th century woodcarving, of which so much detail remains. What is lost are the carved angels at the ends of the hammer beams and the carved figures at the bases of the wall-posts. There is a wide and nicely carved cornice, running along the top of the nave wall on each side, beneath which, forming frames to the clerestorey windows, are cornice-braces, with carved leaves in the spandrels. Above is a beautiful frieze of vine-leaf scroll, which is actually open fretwork, attached to the flat boards by wooden pegs. Fretwork tracery can be seen filling the spaces immediately above the hammer beams. The roof is supported by arch-braced collar-beams and in the ridge above two of these are original angels, holding shields. These are located above the third collar beam from the west, facing east and above the fourth from the east, facing west. In the eastern span of the nave roof, at its ridge, can be seen a block of wood in which is a pulley. This is a rare survival of a rowell-pulley. A rope passed through this and through the small wooden projection in the eastern arch of the south arcade, and held in position the rowell light which hung at certain times in front of the rood.

The framework of the north aisle roof is mediaeval and there are carved wheels of different designs in the spandrewls, also good wooden corbel heads supporting the wall-posts and above the arches on one side above the windows on the other. More corbel heads can be seen in the south aisle, although its roof is modern.

The chancel roof is mediaeval. This is an arch-braced roof, with moulded wall-plates. At the bases of the wall-posts are painted shields, displaying the coat of arms of some of the families who have had connections with Fressingfield. Although several such shields were here in 1790, it is clear that much restoration and renewal has taken place with these shields. Similar shields can be seen in the north chapel roof.

The octagonal font is plain and of an uncertain date. If it ever had carving, this was doubtless revmoved by the Puritans. Nearby is the mediaeval door to the parvise stairway. There is an opening from the parvise into the church, which was blocked until the 19th century. This was a priest's room, or pervise, used for muniments (documents).

The south chapel wall can be seen an ogee-headed piscine with an ocffoil drain. Piscinas were used for washing the sacred vessels and the priest's hands at Communion. The ornate Jacobean Holy Table, of early 17th century date, stood for many years in the sanctuary. Nearby is a large mediaeval ironbound chest, which is secured by three locks and was the parish strong-box. Usually the vicar and the two churchwardens each held a key, so that the chest could not be opened unless all three were present.

The mediaevel oak benches dated from about 1470 and still stand upon their original herbs, in more-or-less their original positions. They have beautifully carved and traceried ends, with a variety of interesting figures for armrests, and terminate in the three-fold 'poppyhead' motif. The backrests of the majoriy of the benches are carved with a wavy pattern, enclosing shields, flowers, trefoils and mouchettes. The back benches on each side are of singular interest because of the carvings beneath the backrests, which has given them the titles of the Passion bench (north) and the Dedication bench (south).

On the east side of the chancel is a hole, through which passed the rope to operate the sanctus bell in the turret above. Beneath the arch stood the rood screen. The rood-loft staircase, which led to the gallery at the top of the screen . . . Its lower entrance can be seen in the east wall of the south aisle and the upper entrance remaines.

The east window was noteworthy for its 19th century tracery and for its circular shafts, capitals and moulding round the arch. This work is original, early 14th century. The capitals are embellished with foliage (and acorns on the south), also heads, facing each other across the window. There is an internal hood-mould, resting upon corbel heads.

The sedilia and piscine . . .

The chancel windows contain what remains of the church's medieval glass. The earliest can be seen in the tracery of the northern window (mostly foliage), which like the window itself, dates from the early 14th century. The south-east window contains four shields made up from fragments of 15th century glass and the south-west window has a small shield with the emblem of the Holy Trinity.

In the sanctuary floor is the mensa (table top) of the mediaeval stone altar.

The eastern extension to the north aisle was formerly the Guild-chapel of St. Margaret. The remains of a piscine can be seen in the south wall and the vestry partition is made up of 17th century panelling, from the former box-pews. The 14th century doorway, which may have once been the priest's doorway from the chancel, has internal moulding in its arch.

The registers of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials date back to 1554. The church possesses several memorials to people of the past. Some can be seen in the floors, where ledge slabs and plain burial slabs, with indents of lost brasses, are the time-wom memorials of former Fressingfield persons.

There is a large picture of Archbishop Sancroft on the southern wall.

Relevant vicar: 1808-1845 Thomas Allsopp (Vicars of Fressingfield were also vicars of Withersdale from 1681 to 1936).


SS Peter & Paul floor brass to William Brewse - of the de Braose Family

William Brewse was born ABT 1432 in of Stinton, Norfolk, England, and died 30 OCT 1489.

(known in french as Guillaume de Briouze)

(Thomas BREWSE12, Robert de BREWSE11, John de BREWSE10, John de BREWSE9, Giles de BREWSE8, Richard de BRAOSE , Lord of Stinton7, John de BRAOSE , Lord of Bramber & Gower6, William de BRAOSE , Lord of Bramber & Gower5, William de BRAOSE , 4th Lord of Bramber & Gower4, William de BRAOSE , 3rd Lord of Bramber & Gower3, Philip de BRAOSE , Lord of Bramber & Gower2, William de BRAOSE , 1st Lord of Bramber1)

He married Elizabeth Hopton. She was born ABT 1430 in England, and died BEF 1489.

He was buried in Fressingfield, Suffolk, England.
 Children of William Brewse and Elizabeth Hopton are:

Thomasine Brewse was born ABT 1450 in England, and died UNKNOWN. She married Thomas Hansard. He was born ABT 1445 in England, and died UNKNOWN.

Anne Brewse was born ABT 1455 in England, and died UNKNOWN. She married Roger Towneshend. He was born ABT 1450 in England, and died UNKNOWN.

His ancestor was Billiam de Braose Braose, from Braose or Briouze, near Falaise, in Normandy. He was Lord of the Sussex rape (an administrative area) of Bramber, with castle there. Holdings in five other Southern counties. After 1066 the family settled in the Adur Valley of West Sussex, England.

The Barons de Braose were a formidable force in medieval England and Wales.



Sir William de Braose (Brewes, Brewys) (1282)

seal (lft) and lozenge (rt)

Azure semee of cross crosslets a lion rampant or armed and langue gules

(attached to a deed at Magdalene College, Oxford)


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