Just one trip into Suffolk this holiday – for an evening meal (getting a bit too dark for decent photos). Risby – a small village off the A14 – is a village that is special to us. The youngsters went to school here, Hannah did Brownies here, we enjoyed the antiques centre and cafe there, and Chris the Vicar supported me through my Curacy. St Giles church is in the middle of the village at TL802664 and is a Grade 1 listed building. Being in Suffolk we can use Simon’s wonderful site – http://www.suffolkchurches.co.uk/risby.htm. We can also read http://www.roundtowers.org.uk/ since Risby church has a round tower.
The earliest reference to Risby (“settlement on the rise”) occurs in the Chronicle of Romsey Abbey in 972 – I remember buying fish and chips in Romsey when Hannah was little and blonde. The Italian family in charge took a shine to her, and offered us an extra portion of chips. The Danes invaded England in 865 and colonised this area between 879 and 917 – this is one of five Suffolk villages identified as Danish settlements. Before the Norman Conquest Risby belonged King Edward the Confessor who later gave it to Bury Abbey. The original Saxon church comprised of the round tower (about 1000-1066) and a nave and a chancel within the area of the present nave.
The nave walls may have been covered with paintings circa 1200-1225, and they survive on the north wall. I must come back when the sun is shining and spend time getting better photos. There are some later paintings, this one below, Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene, is later, c 1375, and the next is late 13th century.
The font is 15th century. The bowl has carvings of the symbols of the four Evangelists, and the Archangel Gabriel is seen telling Mary she is going to be the mother of Jesus.
The Rood Screen is 15th century, and is flanked by two large canopied niches which originally contained statues of saints over the two nave altars. The screen was restored in 1968 using the medieval colour scheme.
These benches are 15th century with lovely poppy heads.
A lovely little booklet on sale – “Growing up in Risby 100 years ago” by Marica Nona Leach. Her father was Vicar between 1907 and 1924 and it is a picture of a privileged life. “I think at once of coming in through the front gate where the drive passed under a big clump of beech trees and then coming out into the shimmering heat where the drive was flanked by a stretch of meadow grass, full of moon-daisies, clover and vetch, and alight with hundreds of butterflies – the common whites, orange tips, ringlets, meadow browns, small tortoiseshell and the little blue ones were the most numerous” (page 7). The Old Rectory is now on zoopla at an estimated price of £1.3 million. I was born a century too late to be an aristocratic Vicar!