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St Peter, Hepworth, Suffolk

(52°20′10″N, 0°54′59″E)
TL 988 749
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Suffolk
now Suffolk
  • Ron Baxter

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Feature Sets

Hepworth is midway between Bury St Edmunds and Diss, approximately 9 miles from each. The land here is low and rolling and given over to arable cultivation. There are common lands to the NW and SE of the village, which consists largely of houses and farm buildings around a junction of minor roads, with the church, rectory and Grange Farm at the eastern edge. St Peter's was burnt down in 1898 when its thatch caught fire, and only the tower, the walls and the porch survived the blaze. It was rebuilt by J. S. Corder of Ipswich. It is a church of the 13thc. and later, consisting of a nave, chancel and W tower, all of flint. The nave is tall with high 15thc. windows to N and S, and its roof has been raised. The N and S doorways are 14thc.; the S under a flint porch, which is, almost entirely 19thc. work. The nave wall behind and to the W of the S porch has a large brick repair in the shape of an arch, suggesting that the doorway and porch were once further W. Inside is the blocked N entrance to a rood loft. The chancel, almost as high as the nave, is early-14thc., with reticulated E, N and S windows and a contemporary S doorway and piscina. The tower has diagonal buttresses with flushwork at the top, a late 13thc. W doorway and tower arch and a 19thc. W window. The upper part has been rebuilt and the structure strengthened with iron clamps; this work dated to 1677 by ironwork on the W face. More clamps were added at a lower level in 1828. The bell-openings are of brick and date from the 17thc. restoration. The parapet is plain and the pyramid roof is fitted with a W dormer. Inside the church are two loose stones, a capital and a voussoir, from a 12thc. doorway.


In 1086 Hepworth belonged to the abbey of St Edmundsbury, and consisted of 2½ carucates of ploughland held from the abbot by 20 free men. There were also four acres of meadow and enough woodland for six pigs. A church was recorded with 15 acres of free land.

The manor was part of the 1480 foundation gift from John Smyth to the College of Jesus, Bury St Edmunds.

Benefice of Hepworth with Hinderclay, Wattisfield and Thelnetham.


Loose Sculpture


The S doorway of St Andrew's Sapiston, less than five miles to the W, provides comparisons for the capital and voussoir designs. Sapiston has been tentatively dated to the 1140s or 50s.

Victoria County History: Suffolk II (1975), 141-42.
H. M. Cautley, Suffolk Churches and their Treasures. London 1937.
D. P. Mortlock, The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches: 1 West Suffolk. Cambridge 1988, 101-02.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Suffolk. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. E. Radcliffe 1975, 266.