Church of England Diocese of St.Edmundsbury & Ipswich Great Bradley

Church Exterior

Parts of this church date back to the 12th century, the time of the Normans. Two doorways and the jambs of the chancel arch were built at this time, as was probably the core of the nave and chancel. Most of the windows in the body of the church were inserted during the Decorated Period of the early 14th century. The fine western tower appears to date from the late 14th century and was further beautified during the 15th century, in the Perpendicular style. The south porch was built during the reign of Henry VIII, probably about 1530. The chancel (which was several feet longer at one time) was repaired in 1864 and the church was further restored in 1896 and in 1911.

On the north side of the nave are two double windows, of which the western most is of slightly later date and is similar to the belfry windows. To the east of these is a small rectangular window, which was probably inserted to give light to the rood screen. In the north wall of the chancel is another simple two-light window, which has been largely renewed. In the south doorway of the chancel is a Decorated priest's doorway, with a hood mould and corbel heads, also a pair of simple, renewed two-light windows, which are similar to that of the north side. The windows of the nave and chancel are two-light windows in the Decorated style.

The north doorway of the nave is Norman.  It is almost certainly the original entrance to the Norman church. Two slender columns rise to a plain tympanum, squaring the door beneath with a lintel. The arch rests on plain shafts and capitals.

The south doorway, protected by a pretty early 16th century brick porch. This is later, probably mid-12th century, with creatures for capitals, very unusual for Suffolk.  This dates from the latter part of the Norman period (i.e. well into the 12th century) and is in a fine state of preservation. Its semi-circular arch, which is covered with several layers of zig-zag moulding, rests upon tall circular shafts, with spiral fluting and carved capitals. Beneath the arch is a restored tympanum, which was probably decorated with carvings at one time, and which is supported by two human heads.

The Tudor brick porch is possibly the finest in Suffolk. Tradition has it that the bricks were made by Henry VIII's own brickmaker. Its south face has a stepped gable and a total of eight niches. The three niches above the doorway have worn stone animal heads. The doorway itself has a square hood mould with quatrefoils in the spandrels. The two-light lateral windows are also set under the squared hood moulds. Inside, the porch has original timbers in the roof and the cinquefoil-headed niche of a Holy Water stoup in its eastern wall.

The tower is late 13th Century with 14th Century amendments in the English Late Gothic perpendicular style. Its walls are strengthened by set-back angle buttresses at the corners. The set-offs (or sloping ridges) of these buttresses have lions and shields carved on them. These can be seen on the southern and western sides of the tower. Around the base of the tower and its buttresses is a simple frieze of chequered flushwork in flint and stone.

The Perpendicular west doorway has a square hood mould, which rests upon corbel heads and has roses and foliage in the spandrels. Above it is the three-light west window, which is also in the Perpendicular style. The ringing chamber is lit by small rectangular apertures on the north, south and west sides.

The staircase turret, near the south-east corner of the tower, extends a few feet above the parapet. All four faces of the tower and the stair turret are crowned with embattled parapets, beneath which are fine gargoyles to drain the rainwater from the roof of the tower.

The weather banner on the weather vane at the very top of the top of the tower has an inscription on it. It reads "H.Long Aug 1824". Hanslip Long was the tenant farmer resident in Great Bradley Hall in the 19th Century. His grave is in the churchyard.