Reasons for Designation
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The church of St Mary, Hadleigh, is designated at Grade I for the following principal reasons:
* A large and imposing church, very characteristic of East Anglican approaches.
* Architectural quality of the later medieval fabric.
* Interesting fittings include a good font, screens, and memorial brass.
Church of St Mary
(Formerly listed as CHURCH OF ST MARY, CHURCH OF WALK)
Late C13 or early C14 west tower and C14 aisles. The church was almost wholly reworked in the C15, when the arcades were rebuilt, the clerestory, south porch and north east vestry added, and the whole building, except for the tower, refenestrated. It was extensively restored in the C19 and early C20; architects unidentified.
MATERIALS: flint rubble with stone dressings, leaded roofs and spire.
PLAN: aisled nave and chancel, west tower, two storey south porch and north vestry.
EXTERIOR: a large and long church in typically East Anglian style. The three stage west tower may be late C12 in origin, but was rebuilt in the later C13 or early C14. It has a west door and trefoiled lancets in the lowest stage, and Y-tracery windows in the second and bell stages. Polygonal south stair turret does not rise the whole height of the tower. The tall, slender broach spire is early C14, and is probably the earliest surviving in Suffolk. On its east face, the spire has a clock with a bell; the bell was cast in 1280. The aisles and nave clerestory are embattled. The aisles C14 in origin, but were refenestrated in the C15 and have large, Perpendicular windows with vertical tracery in a consistent, but different, pattern on each side. The nave clerestory has pairs of C15 two-light windows, and there is a round window in the nave east gable. The chancel clerestory is similar, but has a plain parapet. The south chancel chapel continues the south aisle, and the second window from the east steps up over a C15 priest's door. The north chancel chapel terminates in a two storied north east vestry with an embattled, low pitched roof and two light windows with square frames. The early C15 south porch is embattled and has a low pitched roof. Above the large outer opening is a row of three niches. Internally it has the remains of vault springers. The C15 south door has multiple continuous mouldings, and its pair of contemporary C15 doors have a band of quatrefoils and blind tracery in the heads. The north aisle door is C14 and has weathered headstops.
INTERIOR:a large and spacious interior, with broad arcades and chancel arch. The C15 north and south nave arcades are of five bays with continuous outer orders and an inner order on polygonal responds with moulded capitals and bases. The four-centred chancel arch is similar. Former rood loft doors survive on either side of the chancel arch. There is a good, early C14 tomb recess in the south aisle. Low, C14 tower arch with mouldings dying into the walls. Above it is an opening or door into the tower. The two bay north and south chancel arcades are late C14 or early C15, and have quatrefoil piers with round responds with moulded capitals and bases and a hood mould with stops on the inner face. There is an Easter Sepulchre-type tomb in the chancel north wall, and squints between the south chapel and chancel. The north clergy vestry is vaulted and has C15 panelling.
C19 nave roof with shaped iron brackets on corbels. Steeply pitched aisle roofs have moulded beams and arched braces on corbels. That in the south aisle was reconstructed in the C19, that in the north aisle in 1968. C15 chancel ceiling with grotesques on the central bosses and C19 figures on the brackets.
PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: notable early to mid C14 font, partly re-cut in the C19. Polygonal, it has delicate tracery niches on the bowl and stem and angels and foliage around the base of the bowl. The hugely tall and delicate cover was made in 1925 by Charles Sidney Spooner. C14 piscina in the south chapel. The piscina and sedilia in the chancel are C19. Some medieval bench ends survive in the south chapel, and there are medieval misericords in the chancel. Good C15 parclose screens at the ends of the north and south aisles, re-set in their present positions in the C20. Nave benches of 1869 have shaped ends with naturalistic floral carving. Timber pulpit of 1870. The church has a good collection of ancient chests and a fine, early C18 organ case brought from Donyland Hall in 1738.
Monuments include a C14 tomb recess in the south aisle with a cusped ogee arch and finial. C15 tomb recess in chancel north wall, clearly intended as an Easter Sepulchre. Several brasses of the late C16 and C17, including a fine pair of half-figures, holding hands, to Richard and Elizabeth Glaufie, 1637. Wall tablets include Sarah Johnson, d. 1793 by Regnart, a WWI memorial by Charles Spooner to the Rev. Frances Carter, d.1935, by Eric Gill. Four hatchments. A few fragments of late medieval glass survive in the north chapel east window, C19 and C20 glass includes windows by George Hedgeland and Hard and Hughes.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: two doors and a niche from the former south east porch, demolished 1855, are built into the churchyard wall. The C15 red brick Deanery Gatehouse (q.v) is an integral part of the setting of the church.
HISTORY: there was a church at Hadleigh in the Anglo-Saxon period, and the remains of an earlier church are said to have been discovered in the churchyard. The earliest fabric in the present church is the tower, the lower part of which is late C12 or early C13. The church was already very large by the C14, as the aisle walls are of this date. It was greatly rebuilt in the C15 with money from the cloth trade, and had chantry altars for at least five guilds. The Marian martyr Rowland Taylor (1510-55) was rector here at the time of his death. It was refurnished in the post medieval period, and had a double decker pulpit, box pews and a west gallery. The church was extensively restored in the C19, including the removal of a two-storied south east porch in 1855. The tower had a wooden parapet that was also removed and replaced in stone in the C19; this was in turn removed in 1926.
SOURCES: Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Hadleigh, Suffolk. Guidebook. (1971)
Mortlock, D M The Guide to Suffolk Churches (2009), 217-21
Pevsner, N and Radcliffe, E., Buildings of England: Suffolk (1974), 243-4