Similar to many mediæval churches, Kedington Parish Church in Suffolk looks fascinating from the outside positioned as it is up an incline and visible from some distance, but it is the inside that really makes it into a gem. So many layers of history and changing times are still in evidence to be seen.
Outside the church tower is buttressed and its height at fifty-eight feet emphasises the low roof of the nave. To the left of the one-handled clock (made in 1729 and restored in 2010) is an interesting cinquefoil insert, and the variety of materials used for the building are well shown here – dressed stone, knapped flints, brick, and pebbles.
Centuries of footfall have worn away the doorstep shown clearly here with an obvious dip at the entrance to the church. The carved porch and wooden door – with its smaller door opening – give hints of what is to be seen inside.
And here it is – the nave and chancel inside the church. Wooden pews os various designs line the central aisle with hatchments between the arches. The canopied boxed pew to be seen on the left at the front of the nave is that for the Barnardiston family.
This manorial pew of this Barnardiston family is quite something! With its own roof and carved and decorated arches it really would have indicated to the parishioners who were the important people in the parish. There are two compartments here with their own doors together with hat pegs and a book box.
At least three layers of paint were removed to show some of the original fifteenth-century paintings of foliage, dragons and faces amongst other things.
At the back of the church are benches for girls and boys. These are for the boys and have pegs for hanging their caps. Those for the girls are at the other side of the church. The master would have supervised the boys and the dame the girls. They don’t look that comfortable to sit on for long services! At the top is a wooden bier from the seventeenth-century used for carrying coffins at funerals.
The pulpit is an unusual three-story seventeenth-century pulpit with Jacobean carving. There are six steps leading to the very top where the sermon would be preached. Note the canopy and the backboard ensuring that the preacher wasn’t affected too much by the draughts. The three tiers usually represent the relative importance of the readings with the lowest tier for the parish clerk, the middle tier providing a reading desk for the minister and the top tier for the sermon.
The most impressive Barnardiston monument is possibly this one for Sir Thomas Barnardiston, lying in armour on a tomb chest (1610) and his two wives who are kneeling in prayer facing one another. Mary, his first wife is on the left and Katherine his second wife has a very fine ruff. Note the three skulls depicted either side at the top of the pillars.
There are also marvellous hatchments in the church but they are for another post!