At the sign of the Barking lion...

All Saints, Barnardiston

At the sign of the Barking lion...

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Barnadiston Barnadiston angel

    Barnardiston is a quiet little village just off the busy Haverhill to Bury St Edmunds road. I first saw this church from miles away when I was wandering about the graveyard of Little Wratting. As I set off towards it though, it disappeared; by the time I had negotiated the industrial empire of the pig-murderers in the valley, I was reduced to avoiding the cars that screamed past me on the busy Haverhill to Bury road. Spotting distant medieval towers was not an option. Indeed, I didn't see the church again until I was actually in the churchyard, so tree-shrouded it is from the north.

Barnardiston seemed a peaceful place after the noise of the road, and they must have known I was coming, because someone had rushed out and stuck up a notice with no less than five keyholder phone numbers on it. However, as it was a Saturday they were all out except for the last one, whose answer came as something of a relief. He said he'd be right over, and so I had a quick look around the outside while I waited for him to turn up.

The church stands on the ridge, and as I suggested earlier its tower is visible for miles around. But it is in its last days. The congregation is barely a handful, and they leave it locked so that it is of no value to passing pilgrims and strangers. Redundancy beckons. In keeping with the mood, the interior is sad and dusty, the few medieval benches being the only survivors of the considerable 19th Century restoration. A curiosity is a windmill scratched into the sill of the south chancel window by some bored cleric in the 17th Century. The post mill, which could be seen through the window and which is what he was copying, has long since disappeared. Until a century ago, these beautiful structures swung proudly across the Suffolk landscape. Every parish had at least one; if our 18th century ancestors came back today, one of the first things they would want to know would be where all the windmills had gone.

 Local tradition has it that Blood Hill to the south of the church was the long-forgotten site of Boudicca's last stand against the Romans, and their final victory over her.
  war memorial

Simon Knott, July 2015


14th Century piscina reset in the porch looking east chancel font windmill graffito

Jesus meets the woman at the well

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