832/4/184 CHURCH OF ST MARY
DATES OF MAIN PHASES, NAME OF ARCHITECTS
The earliest fabric is the C12 S door. The nave was refenestrated in the C13. The chancel was rebuilt in the early C14 and the tower is dated by will evidence to c.1451. A substantial refitting of the interior, including the rebuilding of the chancel arch, was also carried out in the C15. The N porch is C17, and some refurnishing work top place in the late C18, when the font was installed and the stained glass in the nave windows put in. The church was restored in 1855 and 1866, and again after a fire in 1984 to designs by the Whitworth co-partnership.
Flint and septaria rubble with stone and dressings. N porch and nave with red tile roofs, chancel and S porch with slate roofs.
Aisleless nave and chancel with W tower and N and S porches.
The church is isolated at the end of a ¼ mile long footpath. The substantial W tower of the mid C15 is embattled, and has NW and SW diagonal buttresses. The NE and SE tower buttresses are in line with the nave W wall, a local characteristic, and the SE buttress incorporates a stair turret, also a local characteristic. Two-light W window with a 4-centred head. The bell stage windows are of 2 lights in 4-centred heads, and there is further small trefoiled window to the N. The nave has C13 Y-tracery windows, one on the N, two on the S, with a lancet to the W of the S porch. The C19 S porch has a plain round arched opening and brick dressings and is now used as a kitchen. The mid C12 S door, now accessible only from the inside, has a roll moulded inner order on plain imposts and an outer chevron roll on shafts with cushion capitals. The C17 porch has been clad in C20 panelling, but retains tiers of balustrading to the inside. The N door is C13 and has a pointed head with two continuous moulded orders. There are substantial stepped buttresses at the junction of nave and chancel. The chancel has very fine two 2-light early C14 windows on N and S sides, and a 3-light E window. There are large diagonal NE and SE buttresses in knapped flint with crocketed finials, probably added in the C15.
The interior was very sympathetically restored after the nave was gutted by fire in 1984. The nave has a new arch braced roof of 1985. Tall double chamfered chancel arch with dying mouldings, probably C15, is flanked to the N by a tall, narrow statue niche with an ogee head and miniature vault, also C15. Keeled plastered ceiling to the chancel. The chancel has a very fine double piscina of the mid to late C13 with two trefoiled openings below a bar tracery roundel. Tall, narrow tower arch, the inner order hollow chamfered on cylindrical responds with embattled capitals. The bell frame appears to be medieval. The S porch has been refitted as a kitchen and is accessed from the nave through glass doors of c.1985.
Despite the fire, the church retains a surprising number of medieval and later fittings. In the chancel, a mid to late C13 double piscina of two trefoiled arches under a larger pointed arch, with a foiled, bar tracery circle in the spandrel. An interesting and highly unusual octagonal stone font of the early C18 with armourial badges and one IHS panel in alternating carved relief and painted Rococo cartouches. Recoloured, but some original colour survives.
From the formerly complete set of C15 benches, a handful survived the fire and are at the W end of the nave. These have two tiers of blind tracery and poppyhead finials. The rest of the nave seating is c.1985 chairs. The Stuart communion table is also at the W end of the nave. In the chancel, simple C19 choir stalls with poppyhead ends. C19 two-sided stone pulpit divided into panels by shafts with fleurons. Minton floor tiles in the chancel. Royal arms of 1836 in the tower and a contemporary charity board.
The chancel windows contain interesting medieval glass, including C14 canopy work and C15 and C16 scenes and fragments. The fine C16 glass is Netherlandish work depicting Old and New Testament subjects. The glass in the heads of the nave windows is brightly coloured and of c.1800. Early C20 Madonna and Child in the nave SW lancet.
A very fine monument of 1572 to Lady Anne Jermyn and her husbands (George Waldegrave, d. 1528 and Sir Thomas Jermyn) with kneeling figures in brass set within a carved stone frame.
Depden church is mentioned in Domesday Book, but the earliest surviving fabric is the mid C12 S door. The nave as refenestrated in the mid C13 and the chancel rebuilt in the early C14. The church underwent a major refurbishment in the mid C15, when the tower was added and the interior of the nave refitted. Having escaped over-restoration in the C19, the church was badly damaged by fire in 1984. The sympathetic restoration by the Whitworth partnership with the contractors Valiant & Sons won an award from the Suffolk Association of Architects.
Cautley, H M, Suffolk Churches (5th ed, 1982), 278
Mortlock, D P, The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches, I: West Suffolk (1988), 60-61
Pevsner, N, rev. E Radcliffe, The Buildings of England: Suffolk (1974), 190-91
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The church of St Mary, Depden, Suffolk, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Excellent surviving medieval fabric from the C12-C15, sympathetically restored after a fire in 1984.
* Notable surviving furnishings, including a very fine C13 piscina, some C15 benches, and medieval and C16 glass.
* A very fine brass of 1572 to Lady Jermyn, one of the best in Suffolk.
* An unusual and interesting early C18 font.
* Its sensitive repair following a fire respects its character as a remotely sited rural church.