Aldham St Mary
St Marys church is located in Aldham, a village in Suffolk about 9 miles west of Ipswich.
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Visiting Aldham St Mary
St Mary’s church in Aldham sits in a beautiful position on a hill, overlooking a large pond. In 1881 this Church was described as being “as near a ruin as one actually in use could be”. It was not the first time it had been called ruinous. In 1769 it was “in a sad state of repair” and two bells were sold to obtain funds for its restoration.
The round tower was originally built about 1350, but in 1881 much of the tower was taken down and rebuilt. It has four belfry openings, which are lancet-shaped, formed of red brick. At the top of the tower is a plain parapet, and there is a short steeple. Looking at the tower fabric, the lowest stage, to above the level of the nave’s eaves, is formed of whole flints, with the ground floor west window made of the same bricks as the pointed tower arch, to be seen inside the nave. The put-log holes (for the horizontal scaffolding) are framed with stone. The middle stage, with windows facing west and south, is probably 18th century, and uses thicker bricks for the window frames and the prominent put-log holes. The top stage with the belfry was re-built the 19th century and uses different, cut flints.
Also in the 1880s, the south nave wall, which had been propped up by ugly red brick buttresses in the 18th century, was taken down, new foundations made and then rebuilt, except for the south-west nave quoin. This is the original quoin, made of flints and Roman tiles, and it incorporates a piece of stone which could have been the shaft of a cross with an interlace carving, dating back perhaps to the 12th century. Apart from the south nave, all the other church walls are rendered. All the windows were renewed in the 19th century. There is a modern sundial near the south-east nave, given as a memorial in 2004.
Another piece of ancient carved stone can be seen in the east reveal of the window east of the south porch. The church seems full of fine woodwork, most of it, including the panelling round the nave and the pews, was provided in 1933. However there are some fine re-used bench ends from the 16th century, near the front on the north side, with jousting shields carved with a notch to take a lance, and with the poppy-head off centre to allow for more of an arm rest. The font near the tower arch is perhaps 12th century, a square bowl on four shafts and a central column. The chancel arch was made in the 1880s rebuilding. The east chancel wall, with its large window and its double niches either side of the altar, was rebuilt in 1933. The altar rails, with alternate square and baluster shafts, could be from the 17th century.