Tostock, Suffolk – St Andrew

Julie and I are in Suffolk for a couple of days – for Frank’s Memorial Service at St Edmundsbury Cathedral. We had time to visit two village churches near Bury St Edmunds – a reminder that the Suffolk church website is Simon’s Suffolk Churches. St Andrew’s church in Tostock (TL960636) is just north of the A14, but could be miles away from it. The flint work is lovely – it is a medieval church, now a Grade 1 listed building. The tower is late C14 with this simple west door. The porch is on the south side, added about 1400.


You enter a simple church, neatened (no doubt) by the Victorians when it was restored in 1872 by J.D. Sedding. Some of the benches are medieval, and there are wonderful figures. The eight western benches on both sides are medieval, the ones at the front are Victorian. I am not sure about the kneelers – shame they didn’t embroider punctuation. Note the peacock and the pelican.


The altar rails are late C17. It was worth looking up too – for the woodwork and the Chandelier.


Rector for 46 years – imagine … I wonder if he could manage these pulpit steps by the end.


On the south side of the Chancel arch is this niche, probably a recess for a guild altar. It now holds a painted canvas war memorial – see an article about it at this website. It was painted by the artist Marion de Saumarez (1884-1978). She “was one of three daughters of the diplomat James, 4th Lord de Saumarez. Born in London, she was brought up in Guernsey and then in Paris, where she enrolled at the Académie Julian. This French art academy was ground-breaking in that it offered women the same training in art as men. Marion exhibited at the Paris Salon and developed a successful reputation as a portraitist; the novelist M.R. James was one of her famous sitters. Marion de Saumarez’s mother, née Jane Ann Broke, was the heiress of several large houses and land in Suffolk including Shrubland Park, near Coddenham, some 15 miles to the north-east of Tostock. … It was leased as a convalescent home during the first world war and she returned there to nurse the patients as a member of the British Red Cross, and to care for her ageing parents. Given her presence in the area, a work for Tostock parish church seems to have been a natural commission, and consequently the painting, The Altar of Sacrifice, was commissioned in 1918 as a war memorial.”

I visited this church in 2008 when producing a display for the Suffolk Show. We had a “green church” display in our Cathedral tent, and decided to have a “Green Man” on each sheet – one of the more evangelical clergy in the Diocese was very angry about that (far angrier than he was about Climate Change)! In the C14 font we have a green man. This time I noticed the Cradle Roll and imagery that was acceptable in the 1960s, but not in the 2010s. It too is a historical document!




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