Not the nicest of weather to have to take church photos, but in our climate if its not raining……its a good day. We have to make the best of what we have, we visited this beautiful church back in the summer of 2013, but although it was really warm, it was very overcast. We were visiting one of the well known churches of Suffolk, St Mary’s Church in Woolpit. I have already posted about the rood screen and some churchy bits, but this post is about the exterior which in its way, is just as beautiful as the interior.
The tower which is built of flint and Barnack stone (from near Peterborough) has fallen at least three times. It was first built in 1513, in 1602 the church was severely damaged by a thunderstorm and the tower was rebuilt with a pinnacle of 66 feet. This spire was blown down in the great hurricane of 1703 and this time rebuilt with a pinnacle of 42 feet high. In July 1852, the spire was struck by lighting once again, this time is was rebuilt in the 14th century style with Norman mouldings from the old tower, the reconstruction cost £1,750.
The porch in the middle ages was used for certain rites, such as the Churching of Women and weddings. It was also used as a place to pay legacies and rents. Woolpits porch with its fine vaulted ceiling is considered a fine example of medieval architecture. In 1430 5 marks (£1.67) was left by John Brumpton for the fabric of the porch, followed by various other persons bequeathing money for the new porch. In 1474 the finishing touches were being added when Robert Lytton left £20.00 for five images to be placed in the porch. These statues were probably destroyed in the 16th/17th century, but the niches can still be seen .
It is assumed that the present church stands on the site of a smaller, earlier church built before the Norman Conquest. A more substantial church is thought to have been built in 1087, the priest’s door into the chancel on the south side is all that remains of the Norman edifice. The chancel and south aisle are 14th century, with the north aisle being 15th century.
A wonderful church to explore from the outside and there is still the medieval wonders of the interior to come.