At the sign of the Barking lion...

St Peter, Palgrave

At the sign of the Barking lion...

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south porch St Michael fights a dragon
man in a hat angel dragon king

    Palgrave sits just on the edge of the lovely town of Diss, but Diss is in Norfolk, and as you head over the railway line and the infant Waveney you enter Suffolk. The countryside soon opens out into flat fields under a wide sky.

In medieval times, Palgrave was actually two parishes. The westerly one, Palgrave St John, was subsumed into this one, and that church has completely disappeared. However, St Peter is walled neatly into its graveyard at the heart of the village, which spreads neatly around it. Seen from the Diss road, St Peter looks a rather simple, unelaborated structure, the twin lights of the east window about as plain as it is possible to be, but as you come closer the magnificent 15th Century flushwork porch appears from behind a yew tree. St Michael and a dragon contended in the spandrels, and there are characterful heads carved in the entrance arch.

You step through into a surprisingly wide nave under a delightfully painted late medieval roof. Marian monograms and symbols punctuate the whitewash. Once, many small Suffolk churches must have been like this. Ahead of you is the font, unlike anything else in Suffolk. Clearly Norman, but much more elaborate than most, its most intriguing features are the faces in each corner. Again, this is a more intimate experience of the faces we normally see as corbels, but Palgrave has these too, medieval characters along the lines of the arcades. The jewel-like light of the nave is thanks to the work of the stained glass artist Surinder Warboys, who has her studio nearby at Mellis. Here is one of her familiar abstract windows in the south aisle, the light flooding through it, transmuted.

Back outside, there stands to the south of the chancel the grave of the common stage waggoner John Catchpole, with a relief at the top depicting his waggon pulled by a train of six horses. He died in 1787 at the age of 75, and his inscription tells us that My Horses have done running, My Waggon is decay'd, And now in the Dust my Body is lay'd. My whip is worn out & my work it is done And now I'm brought here to my last home.

Simon Knott, September 2018

looking east looking west
Ascension (Surinder Warboys, 1995) font Raising of Lazarus (Ward & Nixon, 1851) chancel
Palgrave font face nave roof (15th Century)

waggon and horses by his death the last of the Common Stage Waggoners became extinct from Palgrave my horses have done running, my waggon is decay'd

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