A Brief History
It is believed that the present building dates from 1170 but may occupy a pre-Christian site, although according to Doomsday Book it was founded in 976 and has been a place of continuous Christian worship since then. The tower was added in the C14, and the heavy oak door to the vestry is believed to be from the same period and original.
Above the C14 door to the tower there is a small sanctus-bell window with a cusped arch. It is backed by a wooden traceried shutter which, if original, is a rare and unusual feature.
In the late 1880s the building underwent significant rebuilding, the chancel was demolished and rebuilt, a new porch added and the tower made taller by the addition of four pinnacles. The building work was undertaken by the then rector and dedicated to the memory of his son, Arthur Julius Hilgrove Turner who died aged 23 at Sakree, Bombay, on foreign service on 19th January 1872. His image can be seen in the left-hand panel of the East window where he is the kneeling figure (sporting an impressive moustache!), depicted as Cornelius the centurion kneeling before St Peter.
The whole of the mid C19 East window is in memory of Arthur Julius Hilgrove Turner and is ‘distinctly interesting’ according to The Popular Guide of Suffolk Churches published by D.P. Mortlock in 1988. The window was the first independent commission of William Francis Dixon who had been a pupil of Clayton & Bell and who designed for the firm of Mayer in Munich 20 years later. His style is an individual development of the conventions adopted by Clayton & Bell and foreshadows techniques subsequently used by other artists.
On either side of the chancel arch there are two stone heads looking at the congregation. The one on the right bears a remarkable resemblance to the face of Arthur Julius Hilgrove-Turner, as seen in the East window.
In the chancel there is the delightful chamber organ featuring decorated painted pipes, built by Bevington and Son of Soho, London, undated but probably in the late 1880s. The organ was dismantled and completely restored in 2009 by Messrs. Boggis of Diss, Norfolk.
On the east end of the choir stalls are four well-carved misericord-type seats, which seem to be too low for their usual purpose, although they are at the same height as the front choir pews. Someone must have favoured hinged seats at toddler level because there are more fixed to the old benches by the font. The font is octagonal C13 and entirely plain, standing on a shaft almost as wide as the bowl.
In the late 1980s the tower was struck by lightning and as the full cost of repair could not be met the four damaged pinnacles were removed and the parapet battlements restored. There are impressive gargoyles on the North and South sides of the tower with long snarling metal spouts below the parapet walls.
There are three bells on an oak frame built 1876 – 1878
Treble: Stephen Tonni Bury St Edmunds, 1578
Second: James Barwell, Birmingham, 1878
Tenor: James Barwell, Birmingham, 1876
In 2019 a floor was built on the bell frame beside the bells to give easier access to them for maintenance and also enabling a new ladder to be positioned provide access to the tower roof which had not been possible since the 1980s.
All Saints’ is a significant building, both regionally and nationally, due to the survival of mediaeval walling, the tower and mediaeval and later fittings.
Photographs by Mike Chester