All Saints Church, Chelsworth
All Saints Church, Chelsworth

All Saints church is tucked in behind The Grange, just off the B1115 in the heart of Chelsworth, one of many contenders for the title of Prettiest Village in Suffolk. There has been a church here beside the River Brett as early as AD 962, when it was mentioned in a charter of King Edgar the Peaceable.

The Domesday Book of 1086 also recorded a church at Chelsworth, but the present building dates to the 14th century, with additions in the following century. Rather curiously, the only access is directly through the front garden of The Grange, a picturesque timber-framed house dating to at least the 15th century.

The church is built of flint, rather incongruously faced with cement, which tends to hide the great age of the building. At the west end is a castellated tower supported by diagonal buttresses. Only one bell hangs in the tower; it was cast in 1763.

Interior highlights include a 14th-century octagonal font, with each of the eight faces carved with identical cusped arches.

The 14th century 'Doom' wall painting
The 14th century 'Doom' wall painting

Over the chancel arch is a restored medieval wall painting depicting the Day of Judgment, or Doom. The painting was discovered during a restoration of the church in 1849. Unfortunately, it seems that the restoration was not up to the quality of the original 15th-century painting.

The most interesting historic monument is a richly carved memorial to Sir John Philibert, who died in 1359. Sir John was lord of the manor of Chelsworth from 1334=1351. The memorial is older than the church, so presumably came from the earlier church on this site or was moved here from elsewhere. You can see that the tomb was cut into sections and then re-erected like a giant jigsaw puzzle. In the base of the tomb recess is a medieval ledger stone that was not part of the original monument.

Sir John Philibert memorial, c. 1359
Sir John Philibert memorial, c. 1359

The huge organ takes up almost the entire tower arch. It was installed in 1876 and made by Augustus Gern of London. Above it hangs a royal coat of arms to George IV (1820-1830).

The pulpit dates to 1866, when it replaced an early three-decker version.

In the south aisle is a simple piscina, and below it a beautiful iron-bound 14th-century chest. Set into the floor nearby are 14th-century encaustic tiles. Two windows in the south aisle have heraldic glass panels depicting coats of arms to the various lords of the manor of Chelsworth through the ages.

On the wall hang three funeral hatchments to members of the Pocklington family, lords of the manor in the 18th and 19th centuries. The oldest is Robert Pocklington, who died in 1767, and his wife Sarah (d. 1807).

Chelsworth village has a tradition of an annual garden open day, held each June, with all proceeds going to church maintenance. The fame of the village gardens has spread nationally, and visitors descend on Chelsworth each June to enjoy the gardens, the church, and the picturesque village.


It is easy to spot the church as you travel along the B1115, but what isn't at all obvious is how to get there. There is no signposted drive and no obvious footpath. I ended up parking some distance away and walking along the road until I came to the drive leading to The Grange.

There didn't seem to be any other way to reach the church, so with some trepidation, I walked down the drive, passed directly in front of The Grange's front door, and found myself in the churchyard. I would imagine that residents of The Grange get used to people walking past their door to explore the church!

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About Chelsworth, All Saints Church
Address: The Grange, The Street, Chelsworth, Suffolk, England, IP7 7HX
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: Access via The Grange driveway, off The Street (B1115)
Website: Chelsworth, All Saints Church
Location map
OS: TL980479
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

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