History

St Margaret’s Church

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The church of St Margaret’s was recorded in the Domesday Book and a small piece of Norman zig zag decorated masonry can still be seen embedded into the south porch.  The church is thought to have 11th century origins. The main architecture of the present church is from the Decorated Period and dates to the 14th century.  Further building took place in the 15th Century including the aisles and their windows in the Perpendicular style along with the tower.  There is lots of interest in the church from a historical point of view.  The 14th Century parclose screen is described as ‘quite an important piece’ by Nikolaus Pevsner and much of the original colour can still be seen.  The South Door of the church has tracery and a 14th Century door handle.  Also to be found on the door, dating from the 15th Century is a sanctuary ring – a reminder of the time when people were permitted to seek sanctuary in the parish church.

The church escaped heavy restoration undertaken by the Victorians in many of the country’s churches.  Money was very short in this small village and an attempt to raise sufficient funds to improve the building was published in the local press in 1897.  The newspaper report paints a woeful picture of a church falling into rack and ruin with damp, rickety pews and a chancel roof which would ‘disgrace a barn’.  Many more years would pass before any significant restoration would take place. In 1912, under the watchful eye of William Weir, an architect who was recommended by The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, work began with the main criteria being that the atmosphere, antiquity and every piece of ancient work be preserved.

Today, that atmosphere of spirituality and serenity still remains and the unrestored interior of St Margaret’s continues to captivate and enchant our visitors.

The construction of the tower was carried out during the years of the 15th Century thanks to Sir William Elmham and his wife, Lady Elizabeth.  Sir William Elmham was a military man and a retainer of the Black Prince. In 1393, after almost thirty years of service, he entered Parliament for Suffolk.  He was wealthy being in receipt of a large annuity of £100 granted to him by the King in recognition of his service during the wars with France and as admiral of the northern fleet. Sir William’s will left £80 for the construction of the tower.  Lady Elizabeth Elmham’s bequest in her will of 1412 left money for the completion of the tower and £40 for the provision of bells.

 2: Suffolk Parishes, Suffolk Times and Mercury  5th November, 1897

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