At the sign of the Barking lion...

All Saints, Stoke Ash

At the sign of the Barking lion...

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Stoke Ash in the smoke

Stoke Ash

    This church will be a familiar sight to anyone who regularly takes the hellish A140 road from Ipswich to Norwich - or, indeed, the other direction. When the great road came it split this little village in two, and even today the children take their lives in their hands as they cross to school on the other side of the road from most of the village houses. On the road itself is a fine former Baptist chapel, but All Saints is tucked away in gentle folds among winding lanes, and in fact Stoke Ash is a most pleasant village with an abundance of older houses. Still, having to travel out on to the A140 every time you want to leave home must get a bit tiresome after a while.

All Saints is a thoroughly Victorianised church, and the restoration was by diocesan architect Richard Phipson - that is to say, it was a quiet, middlebrow one which generally preserved the rustic nature of this little country church. The crispness of Phipson's renewed exterior (the Decorated windows are all his) is softened inside.

There is no coloured glass, and this is a peaceful place with clear light falling across simple furnishings. The font appears to be a medieval survival, but all of its faces have been smoothed clean. The royal arms of William IV are displayed above the door, as if to keep any ideas which are too Victorian in check, and in truth it is hard to see that All Saints can ever have been particularly High Church or ritualistic.The great medieval survival of the church is the rood loft stairway, which rises up inside a window embrasure on the north side. This is not terribly unusual, and similar survivals in Suffolk at Whepstead, Barningham and Oakley are perhaps more elegant. But it tells us much about Phipson that he left them as they were.

The original Roll of Honour survives for Stoke Ash, filled in by the Rector as the War progressed. Remarkably, of the 39 Stoke Ash boys who went away to the Great War, only one failed to return. Joseph Archie Moss was a Private in the 1/7 Batallion of the Kings (Liverpool Regiment). He was killed on 31st July 1917 and is buried at Hooge Crater Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium. He was awarded the Military Medal, and the little brass plaque beside the south doorway records that the reredos was erected in his memory.

  Mother's Union

Simon Knott, April 2011

looking east looking west font the only one who didn't come back
chancel organ W IV R roll of honour  rood loft stairway

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