Collage of 2 churches


Beautiful carvings of the bench ends in East Anglian churches



Two churches
SOME GREEN MEN encountered in
East Anglian
F LOCATIONS. More will be added as they are discovered.






 The church guide says that the village was called Fessefelda in 1086,

a name derived from the Old English word Fyrsenfield, meaning a furze-covered field.

There is a Fersfield in Norfolk which shares the same derivation.



St. Peter and St. Paul Church exterior, Fressingfield

The early 15th century south porch, built by Catherine de la Pole in memory of her husband,

who died at Harfleur and her eldest son, who was killed at Agincourt.
Single hammerbeam roof in Fressingfield church

Close-up of hammerbeam roof detail

Before moving on to the
late 15th century bench end carvings, just
look at this splendid single hammerbeam roof, also 15th century.









A detail of the finely carved cornice is below.

Note the delicate fretwork of vine leaves above it.

Detail of hammerbeam roof

Now, to have a look at the carvings down at ground level.


Arm rest mythological carving

Carved bench end with figure on arm rest





The initials IHC (the name

of Jesus Christ), surmounted by a crown, are at the base

of the bench end with the

 carving of a mythological figure, probably a griffin, on the arm-rest - see enlargement at the right.











Arm rest carving of St. Dorothy with basket of flowers or fruit

Bench end carving







 The arm-rest figure here is

St. Dorothy, holding

on her lap a basket of

fruit or flowers.












Arm rest mythological figure, disfigured.






This figure, as well as several others in

the church, shows great disfigurement.

But there seems to be no record in

William Dowsing's Journal of his having visited Fressingfield. The damage could have been done in the earlier iconoclasm

or by persons unknown acting quite independantly.             









Close-up of one of the poppyheads crowning the bench-ends.






                        Close-up of one of the

                      poppyheads which crown                            all the bench ends.














            Bench end carving                                          

Arm-rest carving may possibly be of St. Paul.







The central shield

bears the letter H,

while it is thought

that the arm-rest

figure may be

           of St. Paul.          





Bench end carvingFigure of an angel with scroll may be the emblem of St. Matthew.













The angel carved on

the arm-rest may be

the emblem of

St. Matthew.












 So far we have seen carvings possibly representing St. Dorothy, St. Paul and St. Matthew.

The figure below on the left has no identifying symbols and remains unnamed,

but that on the right holding the keys is St. Peter.

Carved figure on arm-rest.Arm-rest figure of St. Peter



Bench end carving with initials of Alicia de la Pole.



The emblem here is of the chalice and

host with the initials A. P. These stand

for Alicia de la Pole - the poet Geoffrey Chaucer's grand-daughter. Alicia and

her third husband, William de la Pole,

who was Earl of Suffolk at the time of

their marriage in the 1430's, lived for a

time at nearby Wingfield. After William's

death Alicia extended the Chancel of

St. Andrew's Church, Wingfield, where

can be seen the tomb of their son

John de la Pole.








Bench end carvingBench end carving with arms of the Talbot family.



The top part of the intricate bench end carving at the left is described as a wheel of mouchettes. I am not going

to attempt to explain this -

I started going round in

circles (sorry!) - and can only suggest a dictionary of architectural terms which

will do the job admirably.

But on the panel to the right is carved a coat of arms, which according to the

church guide may be that

of the Talbot family. It shows two dogs and a crown.





Intricately carved bench end.

Arm-rest carving, possibly St. Bernard or St. Roche





One more saint on the left and that is a hooded

figure with a dog, possibly

St. Bernard or St. Roche. The panel on the right displays intricate carving

as do the two pictures below. The delicacy of the work on these panels really is a delight to see.







Beautifully carved bench endBeautifully carved bench end






















And as a contrast to the detailed carvings of all the panels above, the simplicity of the linenfold below has its own quiet beauty which for me is in no way overshadowed by its predecessors.


Simplicity of a linen fold panel



A final look down the nave before seeing the carving on the backs of the rear benches.

Looking down the nave towards the altar.

Most of the benches have an interesting wavy line pattern across the back,

just above the shelf, but those at the rear have extra themed carving below as well.

The north side is called the Passion bench and the south the Dedication bench.

To the left below is a small part of the Dedication bench and to its right a close-up

of one of its carvings - the crossed keys of St. Peter.

Part of the carving on the rear Dedication bench.Close-up of the crossed keys of St. Peter on the rear bench.


















Below are two close-ups of scenes from the Passion bench. On the left is depicted the pillar, scourges and cords and on the right is the ladder, hammer and pincers.

Close-up of the carving showing the pillar, scourges and cords.Close-up of the carving showing the ladder, hammer and pincers.
















The inner part of the south porch.

The interior of the south porch with its vaulted roof. The doors are 15th century.


I am deeply indebted to the writer of the admirable church guide for the identification of the arm-rest carvings above, without which I would have endured much head-scratching to come up with the right description, amateur that I am.





Click letter for locations with that initial:  D  G  I  W

Back to Main Bench Ends page



Copyright Ivy Collins 2009    





The arm-rest mythological figure on the bench end is enlarged at the right.