Athelington – St. Peter’s Church

This church dates from around the late thirteenth or early fourteenth centuries, although was faffed around with a fair amount during the Victorian period. There was an article in the Ipswich Journal in September 1873 which noted that the restoration had meant that “the building looks like a new church with an old tower” and added “the building had been in a horrible condition, but is now one of the prettiest churches in the county”. As an aside, the author of that article (an Ipswich man it seems) struggled to find the village and reported that he got lost, adding that “the village cannot boast of having a public house or a beer house”, which must have been quite unusual at the time.

The west tower with its external staircase visible and there were also some older gravestones in the churchyard, some from the eighteenth century.

There’s no separate chancel, it’s all a continuous structure with the nave.

The tower, which is mostly fifteenth century, was likely once taller and the top section has been knocked off, with a nineteenth century pyramid thing stuck on top. One improvement which was made, in my view, during the Victorian restoration was that this doorway was opened up again, as a previous generation had bricked it up.

The listed building record notes that these corbel heads are nineteenth century, although I thought that they looked a little older.

This flint porch addition is though more obviously from the nineteenth century and it replaced a wooden porch which it was thought at the time was contemporary to when the church opened. It’s a shame that such an historic structure has been lost for something that I think looks rather generic.

The interior of the church was shut when we visited, although there are apparently some intriguing fifteenth century bench-ends still on the pews. The fourteenth century structure of the original roof is also still in place and the whole building seems to my very untrained eye in reasonably good condition. The Victorians tossed away the “dilapidated pulpit” for a new one made of oak, with the floor also being ripped out. I can’t help but feel the Victorian restoration didn’t much improve matters here in terms of the historic integrity of the church, but, perhaps without their intervention the building may have deteriorated and not survived.