Granted, All Saints was built as a church but given that this building hasn’t been in use for over 100 years to call it a “Church” is perhaps something of a misnomer.
I swung by Icklingham on my way back to Kent after a shoot in Suffolk a week or so ago as it was only a 3 mile detour. All Saints Church is a Churches Conservation Trust museum piece and whilst it certainly was a church it has more of a museum feel now. It is interesting that while I wholeheartedly support the work of the CCT they are effectively creating a network of little museums across the country, preserving the structures of buildings that have lost their spirit and in a sense their way too. However this church remains a fine example of a thatched Suffolk Church and is positioned on what once was an ancient and important trade route.
The setting of this particular building is rather plain, pretty but nothing extraordinary although the key guardian was exceptionally cheerful and friendly which did add a kind of warm glow.
Inside, the building has a slightly curious kind of double nave which is in fact a nave plus side aisle but the huge window at the end of the side-aisle kind of elevates it’s visual significance to me. Unfortunately nearly all the stained glass is long gone that the little that remains is not in the same league as the Canterbury Cathedral glass I have been photographing for the Getty Museum recently. So I guess the space is very much brighter than it would have been originally, no doubt the fact that it was a gloriously sunny day when I visited, added to this.
Side aisle with large window
There were a few things that caught my eye:
I liked the well chewed pews, no doubt worn down by generations of small children (pre 1900) anxious to get out and play.
A gnawed Pew
I was also intrigued by the curious short spiral staircase built into the wall dividing the main nave from the (single) side aisle. This didn’t seem to go anywhere except to a small opening a few metres above the entrance which presumably was used as a pulpit, giving the priest a commanding view of his gathered flock.
The spiral staircase and pulpit
The early 14C font had some crude but pleasing carvings around it’s perimeter and I particularly liked the faint but lovely octopus-like carving on the sarcophagus by the side door. This door also sported a fine anchor shaped knocker.
All Saints Details
The thatched roof was also interesting:
You can read the CCT blurb about this church here: http://www.visitchurches.org.uk/Ourchurches/Completelistofchurches/All-Saints-Church-Icklingham-Suffolk/
And I’ll let the pictures do the talking now:
Looking across the nave towards the side aisle
Light from the side Aisle Wndow
Those chewed pews again
Side aisle window