Chediston, St Mary's Church
Chediston, St Mary's Church
Chediston is such a pretty village, a million miles from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Many of the houses in the village are timber framed, and several have moats about them. There may have been a Saxon church here, as excavations just outside the churchyard have discovered a burial thought to be Saxon.
The parish church of St Mary is an intriguing building, standing on sloping ground above the River Blyth. It dates to at least the late Norman period, but the bulk of the church is 13th-15th centuries. The north chancel wall is Norman, but the nave is primarily 13th century.

The main item of historical interest inside the church is a quite wonderful 17th century Decalogue board. A decalogue board is a painting showing the script of the Ten Commandments, The Apostles Creed, and the Our Father. At Chediston the Ten Commandments are flanked by figures of Aaron and Moses, looking suitable patriarchal. Moses is wearing his horns of light, like a fiery corona. The decalogue board has been recently and very beautifully restored; it is a stunning work of art.

Another remarkable feature is the set of communion rails, which are quite unlike any I've seen in an English church, with large pendant acorns between the rungs. In a wooden case is an original copy of the Erasmus Paraphrase, dated to 1546. The Paraphrase is a version of the New Testament, meant to help priests prepare a sermon. Every church was required by law to have a copy, and this book has been at Chediston ever since it was first obtained.

The third item of historic interest, and my favourite, is the font. This is a traditional octagonal shape, with the wide bowl supported by carved heads. At the base are alternating figures of lions and woodwoses, the Suffolk wild man of the woods. These woodwose carvings are wonderfully done, with the woodwose carrying his club over his left shoulder.

There is also an unusual lectern carved in the shape of an eagle turning its head sharply upward, as if it is taking a quick peek at the roof. Another item of note is a small oak chest, carved from a single log. The chest is thought to be Saxon in date.

Chediston is a delight to visit. The combination of the peaceful rural setting, with historic buildings on all sides, and the treasures inside the church, make St Mary's a real treat.