We had a final fling in Suffolk the other day, church-crawling with our friends Graeme and Susan. They had been trying to get inside Boxted Church for some time, but always thwarted by a locked door – so there was a grand hurrah when we found it open, and on a perfect day too.
If you know the song “A frog he would a -wooing ago” you may have come across the family commemorated here. One theory of the line “Roley, Poley, Gammon and Spinach” refers it to four families of Suffolk notables, Rowley, Poley, Bacon and Green and the fine statues pictured below are of Sir John Poley, who died in 1638, and Dame Abigail his wife, who died in 1652. The statues though were made and installed after the Civil War in a late and unusual attempt to recreate a sort of mediaeval chantry and perhaps give the illusion of antiquity.
These memorials contrast nicely with those to a much later couple of the same family remembered in the south chancel window, Edward and Ursula Hallifax-Weller-Poley. The window includes almost naive but I think very fine medallion portraits of the couple – Sir Edward in WWI uniform, and Ursula in her habit as an Anglican nun, which she became after her husband died in 1948, when she founded the Company of St Francis in Gateshead. She certainly looks dressed for the weather, and hers was clearly a very hands-on ministry of compassion. A Gloria for her from a lad born during her time there but in a clergy house in the slums of Old Sunderland.
Our church crawling will now be retransferring its affections to Cambridgeshire and West Norfolk. Next up, if I can get in, is Witcham and its very unusual font.