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Listed Building
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Ordnance survey map of CHURCH OF ST MARY
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

St. Edmundsbury (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 65124 47764




II* DATES OF MAIN PHASES/ NAMES OF ARCHITECTS Late C13 or early C14 shaft and capital reused as a stoup in the S aisle, probably from a former S aisle. The chancel is C14. N aisle added c1480. Clerestory late C15 or early C16. S aisle and S porch built 1866-7 to designs by Clark and Holland. Chancel also rebuilt in the C19. Roofs restored late C20. C14 with late C15 phases. Restored 1866-7 by Clarke and Holland.

MATERIALS Flint and septaria rubble with stone dressings, N aisle rendered. Tiled and leaded roofs.

PLAN Nave with N and S aisles, S porch, W tower, chancel with N vestry.

EXTERIOR Externally largely perpendicular in style. The chancel is C14, rebuilt in the C19, and has Decorated style two-light N and S windows and a large C15 style E window with vertical tracery. Small N C19 vestry, also with a Decorated-style window. The N aisle is c1480, and the clerestory is late C15 or early C16. Both have windows of cusped lights in four-centred heads; the clerestory is embattled, the aisle is not. Late C15 N door with a four-centred head and a contemporary door, the bottom repaired. The S aisle was added in 1866 to match the N aisle. It is embattled, as is the S clerestory. C19 S porch. The elaborate S door, re-set during the C19 rebuilding of the aisle, is probably early C16, and has a pointed opening set within a square surround, with good use of fleurons and blind tracery in the spandrels. C14 niche with a modern statute above the door. The double-leaf S doors have rectangular panelling and are probably C18; the door handle is C13 and has a large pierced plate and an oval ring with two lizards. Tall C15 W tower is embattled and has diagonal buttresses and a polygonal SE stair turret. There is no W door. Three-light C15 W window with vertical tracery, small square openings in the middle stage, and two-light windows in the upper stage.

INTERIOR Late C15 N arcade of four bays with quatrefoil piers, polygonal moulded capitals and hollow chamfered arches. The C19 S arcade is copied from that on the N. C15 chancel arch with embattled capitals. To the S of the chancel arch is a badly damaged statue niche, and above it the remains of the upper door to the rood loft; the lower door is visible in the S aisle. Tall C15 tower arch of two orders, the inner on half-round shafts with polygonal, moulded capitals. A stoup in the S aisle made from a late C13 or C14 capital and partial, round shaft may have come from a former S arcade.

The late medieval nave roof has false hammerbeams and large tie-beams that now conceal steel steelwork inserted in 1983. Two of the hammers retain figures, and the mortises for others are visible. Very fine late C15 N aisle roof, with arched braces on wall posts with stone corbels, embattled wall plates and carved bosses, including the arms of the de Vere family. It was repaired in 1974.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES Re-set C13 handle on S door, with a round, pierced plate and an oval ring with lizards or dragons. Inside the S door, a stoup made from a remodelled C13 or early C14 capital and shaft. C15 chancel screen with perpendicular tracery, retaining its original doors, re-coloured in the C19. Two sets of late medieval benches in the nave: those on the N with square ends and shallow buttresses. Those on the S have shaped ends and large poppyheads with figural carving depicting St George and the dragon, St Michael weighing souls, birds in foliage, an angel with a shield etc. Probably C17 font, polygonal with simple traceried panels and armorial shields. Early C17 pulpit with two rows of blind arcading. In the N aisle, brass to Robert Wyburgh, with an inscription recording his construction of the N aisle in 1480, also a brass in the nave to Joan Bury (d. 1570). N aisle E window, 1970s by Pippa Heskett, and a few fragments of medieval glass in the clerestory.

HISTORY Withersfield the place is mentioned in the Domesday book, but the church is not, and the date of its foundation is uncertain. The earliest surviving fabric is the C13 or early C14 capital and shaft reused as a stoup, which may have come from the former S aisle, and the C13 door handle. The chancel was rebuilt in the C14. The chancel arch is C15, and the N aisle was built or rebuilt in 1480 by Robert Wyburgh. The clerestory is late C15 or early C16. A S aisle was probably demolished in the post medieval period. The present S aisle and S porch were built in 1866-7, and the chancel was also rebuilt in the C19. The roofs were rebuilt and reinforced with steel in the C20.

SOURCES Mortlock, D P., The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches, I: West Suffolk (1988), 222-23 Pevsner, N. and Radcliffe, E., Buildings of England: Suffolk (1976), 497-8 Lambeth Palace Library, Incorporated Church Building Society, file ICBS 06557: 1806 plan for restoration.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION The church of St Mary, Withersfield, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Extant of medieval fabric, and quality of the Perpendicular fabric * Notable fittings, including the C13 door handle, bench ends, screen, brasses, pulpit and font. * Careful Victorian restoration.


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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 11 Oct 2002
Reference: IOE01/08944/21
Rights: Copyright IoE David Guthrie. Source Historic England Archive
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