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English Church Architecture -

Suffolk.

 

LITTLE BRADLEY, All Saints (TL 682 521)     (October 2004)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)

 

The W. tower of this little church (shown left, from the southeast) is circular up as far as the string-course demarcating the start of the bell-stage and Pevsner described the structure below this as “doubtless Anglo-Saxon”, an attribution that appears to have been well and truly discredited by Stephen Hart, writing in The Round Church Towers of England (Lucas Books, 2003) who demonstrates by means of a thorough examination of the masonry and (especially) the oak doorframe through which the tower communicates with the nave, that it is, in fact, almost certainly fifteenth century work and of the same phase of construction as the Perpendicular octagonal bell-stage above.  This provides a most salutary lesson against automatically assigning round church towers to Norman or Saxon times, although to spare Pevsner a little of his embarrassment, it is also evident that the present tower replaces a former, early Norman one, for the tower arch is of this time, as witnessed by its round-headed arch composed of a single order, entirely unmoulded apart from the chamfered under-edges of the imposts.  This is surely also the date of the nave S. doorway, the chancel arch (shown below right) (which copies the form of the tower arch on a larger scale) and the chancel itself.  The latter, though small, appears to have been erected in two stages, forming what can almost be considered as a choir and a sanctuary, for the walls of the “sanctuary” are thinner and not in perfect alignment with the earlier work.  Nevertheless, the dates of these two phases of construction cannot have been far apart and the church is likely to have been complete within more or less its existing plan by c. 1100.  The chancel has two small Norman windows to the north, one of which is blocked and now visible only externally.  Otherwise the church windows are Perpendicular insertions, most of which have since been renewed and none of which are of particular interest, although the bell-openings in the cardinal faces of the bell-stage are nicely proportioned, with cinquefoil-cusped Y-tracery beneath four-centred arches.

 

Inside the church, the tower and chancel arches apart, it is the monuments that are most notable, including:

1.   in the chancel N. wall, the remains of a monumental brass commemorating John Daye (d. 1584);

2.   in the chancel floor, a brass to John Lehunte (d. 1605) and his wife Jane;

3.   against the chancel S. wall, a monument to Richard Lehunte (d. 1510) and his wife Ann.  She married again after Richard's death and lived for another forty-eight years, but the lengthy inscription records that the unfortunate lady spent much of that time bearing her second husband fourteen children. The monument shows Richard Lehunte, Ann and three children kneeling in prayer facing east, but except for Richard's effigy, the rest are now entirely headless.

 

Finally the pulpit is a well executed piece which retains its tester.  Pevsner considered this to be an eighteenth century piece and on this occasion there seems no need to disagree with him.