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Sunday, 10 January 2016

St. Nicholas' Church, Denston, Suffolk

We visited this remote church (well Denston is remote, although the church is in the village) on a cold, January Sunday.  I am not sure if this church is normally locked, but we visited just after a Sunday service, so it was open and the people there were very welcoming. One lady wanted to show us around and the vicar was a good chap too.
The church was built as a "hall" church in 1475-85 although there was a 12th century church or chapel on the same site earlier.  The tower is about 100 years older.  It is in the small Suffolk village of Denston just off the main Bury St Edmunds to Haverhill road, not far from Wickenbrook.

It has been described as one of the most beautiful small churches in Suffolk. It is indeed. It has a light and airy interior and is a little gem.  One of the main benefactors was John Denston who left money in his will for a chantry college in the village so that prayers and masses would be said for him and his family "in perpetuity". The architects included Simon Clerk who also worked on Ely Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds Abbey and Kings College Chapel. The church is famous for its carvings in the roof woodwork and its bench ends.


Some of the carved bench end animals are recognisable, whereas others are pure guesses, for example the elephants, which the carvers had to guess never having seen an elephant.

The  Seven Sacrament carved stone font is rare with only 2 outside Norfolk and Suffolk in the whole of England.  There are 18th century box pews in the south aisle. The pulpit dates from the 17th century. There is just a single bell. The east window, restored in the 1980s, contains medieval glass, made in Norwich.

There are 4 misericords in the chancel.

See http://www.suffolkchurches.co.uk/abjenkins.htm.  Simon has much more detail.

As this church was not far from home, we did not eat out.

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