At the sign of the Barking lion...

St Peter, Redisham

At the sign of the Barking lion...

home index e-mail what's new? - a journey through the churches of Suffolk


Redisham Redisham Redisham

    The gentle rolling landscape between Halesworth, Beccles and Bungay is always a pleasure to cycle. There are so many narrow lanes meandering pleasantly towards nowhere in particular, and the three main roads on the outside of this triangle seem to pick up virtually all the traffic.The villages are mostly quiet and peaceful, the churches mostly open

Redisham is the nearest village to Brampton railway station, one of the most remote in Suffolk. In the days before phone train apps, when I used to have to buy a paper ticket to here, the man behind the counter at Ipswich station who knew of my cycling activities used to make a little joke about whether I want the Brampton in Suffolk or the Brampton in Cumbria. He told me that I was the only person he'd ever sold a ticket to for the Suffolk one. When I told him that there isn't much to the Suffolk Brampton - except for the railway station, of course - he listened as if I was Marco Polo bringing back tales of foreign lands.

St Peter is a pretty little church, lovely on its green cushion. Sam Mortlock described it as 'unobtrusive', and indeed it is easy to miss it if you don't know exactly where it is. But when you find it you'll be pleased to discover that it is open every day - on my most recent visit in July 2016, the inner door was propped open with a brick. The little bell turret at the west end is rather squat, and from a distance it looks a little like a chimney, as if this was a cottage. The most striking feature as you approach is the grand Norman doorway in which is set the south entrance. This, then, was a Norman church. The interior is even prettier than the exterior, and the clear light is coloured by one of the finest early 20th Century windows in this part of Suffolk. It is the work of Christopher Webb, and depicts Christ beginning his mission by summoning the fishermen, including this church's patron, St Peter.

Feed My Sheep by Christopher Webb Feed My Sheep by Christopher Webb

The 19th Century restoration by Butterworth was gentle to St Peter, and the brick floors give the interior great character. There are a few impressive late medieval survivals: the font is elegant and harmonious, with blank shields which must once have been painted alternating with roses. Best of all, up in the chancel, I liked the bench ends. An old one shows a creature reaching back to eat from a pot on its back. A modern companion is a bear licking out another pot, as if he was Winnie the Pooh.

dragon with a cooking pot in its back bear with its head in a honey pot bear with his head in a honeypot house bench end

Outside, I pottered about the churchyard. I was looking for a gravestone mentioned by Mortlock, and I found it in a line to the west of the path. It is to an 11 month old girl, Eliza Westrup, who died in 1840. Her birth was obviously the result of an illicit tryst, and the father either unknown or denied. The inscription is an unveiled attack on him, and it is fascinating because it uses the Puritan language of two centuries earlier. Interestingly, the gravestone is set facing away from the path, unlike all the others:

Remember me as you pass by, tho' you my father did me deny.
Glad were you to hear the sound of the bell that passed me to the ground.
If you were free from sin as I, you would not be afraid to die.
As I am now so you must be, therefore prepare to follow me.


Simon Knott, December 2018

south doorway, font, organ looking east chancel font
font Great Redisham men who served in the Great War Pioneer Educationist in India and Nigeria St. Peter's Church, Redisham

Glad were you to hear the sound of the bell that passed me to the ground. If you were free from sin as I, you would not be afraid to die.


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