A brief description of Brundish and the church of St Lawrence
Brundish is a scattered parish, about five miles north of Framlingham and in the heart of High Suffolk. It seems a far cry from the busy world of the twenty-first century. A few farmhouses, cottages, a pub, a village hall and the fine old church are dotted amongst the fields and lanes, miles from the nearest railway station, dual carriageway or industrial town.
The name ‘Brundish’ comes from the Old English ‘burna’ and ‘edisc’ - stream with pasture. (Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names). The stream referred to is almost certainly the source of the River Alde which rises in Brundish and flows along the eastern boundary of the churchyard.
The parish church is dedicated to SAINT LAWRENCE.
It stands away from the main centre of population, with only the Chantry farmhouse for company; so called because, in medieval times, there was a chantry at Brundish. This used to stand not far from the church and was built for prayers and masses for the soul of Sir Robert de Ufford, Earl of Suffolk. The chantry was dissolved by King Henry VIII and has entirely disappeared. It is believed that the chantry and the Parish Church were once enclosed by a moat, of which a small part still remains.
The church of Saint Lawrence is a fine building and contains much which is of beauty and antiquity. There was a church here in Norman times and the lower three quarters of the tower dates from the early Norman period (late 11th century).
The church consists of a square western tower, nave, chancel and south porch. The external width of the west face of the tower is 20 feet. The approximate internal dimensions are:-
Nave - length - 64 feet breadth - 29 ft. 6 ins.
Chancel - length - 35 feet breadth - 18 ft. 3 ins.
Porch - east/west - 8 feet north/south - 10 feet.
There are several points of interest to be seen in the fine and sturdy exterior of this church and a walk around the outside is well worthwhile.
The western TOWER has no buttresses and its corners have stone quoins, which are a feature of very early towers. This 11th century structure was heightened and the body of the church rebuilt shortly after 1385, in the Perpendicular style of architecture.
Also added at this time was the west doorway (with its moulded arch), the two-light Perpendicular belfry windows (on the north, south and west sides) and the embattled parapet. The roof of the tower is drained by fine gargoyles on the north and south sides. Above the west doorway can be seen the blocked remains of an early Norman west window and a careful look at the north and south sides of the tower shows that there were probably similar windows here also. The other evidence of this early work can be seen in the eastern belfry window. This is simple, early Norman and of two lights, divided by a central shaft with a capital. The semi-circular heads to the arches have simple zig-zag moulding.
The MAIN BODY of the church is lit by lofty Perpendicular windows with fine tracery. The north and south sides of the nave each have three matching two-light windows and one three-light window (except that the south-west window of the nave is partially blocked by the later addition of the porch). These windows, on both sides, are linked by continuous string courses which form their hood moulds. The north and south sides of the chancel each have two double Perpendicular windows. The east wall of the chancel is almost filled with the superb five-light east window, also in the Perpendicular style, and with embattled transoms in its fine tracery.
The north doorway, which still retains its original medieval door, is similar in design to the west doorway and has a pleasantly moulded arch. The priest's doorway, in the south of the chancel, has its original jambs, but the head of the arch (which contains fleurons) and the hood mould and corbels, were renewed during the 19th century. The walls of the nave and chancel are strengthened by elegant buttresses.
The south PORCH is a very worthy example of Perpendicular
architecture. Parts have been restored with brick and the two-light Perpendicular windows are now blocked. It is a fine porch, however, and it must have looked very striking when it was new. It is supported by buttresses and there are fine gargoyles beneath the east and west parapets. In the south face can be seen some good flushwork (or flint panelling), with trefoil headed panels and quatrefoils. In this face is a fine niche, with pinnacles and a central finial. Beneath the niche is the Perpendicular entrance arch. This is beautifully moulded and rests on jamb pilasters with moulded and embattled capitals. It has a square hood mould, with carved roses and foliage in the spandrels and tiny
fleurons around the border. This porch partially blocks the south west window of the nave, which indicates that it must have been added at a later date.
The CHURCHYARD has received much praise for its management and many wild flowers and birds can be found within its limits. The
eastern boundary of the churchyard is marked by the River Alde which has its source in Brundish and flows to the North Sea at Aldeburgh. The memorials were researched by staff and pupils of Framlingham College in 1993 and a plan of the churchyard hangs inside the church on the west wall of the nave.
There are no toilets and there is no mains water at the church.
Flowers are watered from the iron tubs replenished by rainwater from the roof of the south porch.