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St Andrew, Rushmere St Andrew, Suffolk

(52°4′10″N, 1°12′9″E)
Rushmere St Andrew
TM 196 461
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Suffolk
now Suffolk
  • Ron Baxter
06 October 2005

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Feature Sets

Rushmere St Andrew is a village on the NE edge of Ipswich, its parish running S from the village in a long strip to include the housing developments of outer E Ipswich. Rushmere itself retains much of its village character, with the church at the W end of the main street, the open space of Rushmere Heath to the S, and farmland to the N, falling away to the valley of the river Fynn, a tributary of the Deben.

The church cannot fail to astonish. At the W end is a Perpendicular tower of mixed flint, rubble and septaria with slender diagonal buttresses, a polygonal S stair and a battlemented parapet decorated with flushwork panels. The W doorway has the arms of Felbrigg (lords of Rushmere 1387-1423) and Sampson (lords 1423-1511). Thomas Sampson whose arms appear died in 1439, which could indicate an approximate starting date. That it was not far advanced by the end of the 15thc. is proved by bequests in the wills of William Cadye (1496/97) and his wife Katherine (1521/22) for its construction, which specified that it was to be built 'of like fashion, bigness and workmanship with that at Tuddenham', and it is certainly similar, although Tuddenham's tower has no buttresses at the eastern angles. It was restored in 1861 by Hakewill, when pinnacles were added to the parapet and a new W window with bizarre tracery and a figure of St Andrew in the central light was installed. The nave and chancel of the so-called old church follow, but apart from the reused 12thc. S doorway they are not so very old. The medieval church was drawn by Henry Davy in 1842, and his engraving shows a boxy nave with windows of various dates and a S porch with a crow step gable. The chancel had square-headed windows including a three-light E window with a central transom, and both chancel and nave were heavily and crudely buttressed. In 1861 the fabric was in danger of collapse while the parish continued to grow, and E. C. Hakewill was asked to prepare a scheme for restoring it. His description of the dangerous state of the church in 1861 is reprinted in Tricker (1983). He recommended a complete rebuilding of the nave and chancel on the old foundations, and the addition of a N aisle, not quite reaching the W end of the nave, to accommodate the extra seating needed, and the work was begun and completed in the same year. Hakewill believed the old church to date from the early 13thc, and his nave and chancel are in that simple Early English style. The two-bay N aisle shares a roof with the nave. The next development was the construction of the New Church at the E end in 1967-68, and to understand its architectural form it is necessary to appreciate something of the spirit of liturgical radicalism in the Anglican church following the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65. Among its reforms, the Council encouraged a more active participation in the liturgy by worshippers, and in the Catholic Church and the Church of England this was to lead to the centralisation of altars, and to revisions of the office books. At Rushmere St Andrew an enlargement was needed to cope with the growth of the parish as Ipswich expanded, and the decision was taken to place the altar on a dais at the position of Hakewill's E chancel wall, which was demolished, and build a new space to the E that would allow the priest to celebrate the Eucharist surrounded by his congregation. The new space could also be cleared of its seating and used for performances of dance and drama. The architect of the new work was George Pace of York, who had supervised the rebuilding of Llandaff Cathedral, and he designed a space with a main vessel as wide as the old chancel with a broad N aisle and a narrow S aisle, the aisle walls carried on long concrete beams with a single shaft support on the N side and no intermediate support on the S. The new church is faced with brick and is brightly lit with tall multi-light windows with wooden frames. Pace also added a utilitarian brick vestry at the W end of nave of the old church, alongside the tower. A new church hall was added to the S of Pace's extension by Jack Earwaker in 1987. This has low brick walls and an enormous overhanging tiled roof, hipped at its S end with a half-gable containing a window whose framing enhances the neo-Tudor look of the extension. The S doorway of the old church is the only Romanesque feature to survive.


The Domesday Survey records a complex pattern of landholding here in 1086. Under the lands of the king kept by Roger Bigod were 31 acres held by 9 free men. In the holdings of Count Alan, were 31 acres held by 11 free men commended to Gyrth before 1066, and 6 acres and a church with 20 acres, and 20 acres held by a free man commended to Ralph the Staller. In the holdings of Robert Malet were 30 acres and an acre of meadow held formerly by two sokemen of Godwine and 44 acres and 2 acres of meadow formerly held by three free men commended to Eadric. In addition a total of 64 acres and 5 acres of meadow were held as a manor by Wulfgeat before the Conquest, and in 1086 by Humphrey from Robert Malet. In the holdings of Roger de Poitou were 6 acres held from Roger by Hunebot in 1086. In the holdings of Ely abbey, Thorkil held 80 acres and 5 acres of meadow as a manor before 1066, a free man, Eadric, held another 20 acres and five other free men held 15 acres. All of this was held by the abbey in 1086. In the holdings of Hervey de Bourges, Brunwine held 30 acres and an acre of meadow before 1066, held in 1086 by Hervey. There were thus two Anglo-Saxon manors, held in 1086 by Ely abbey and by Humphrey from Robert Malet, and there was a church on Count Alan's land. The manor of Rushmere St Andrew is known to have been held by the Felbriggs (1387-1423) and then, by marriage, by the Sampsons (1423-1511) when Thomas Sampson married Margery Felbrigg.


Exterior Features



The sculptural forms of the doorway are not unusual, although the totality is fairly lavish. Comparisons for the chevron, the capitals and the cable-decorated nook-shafts may be seen at St Andrew's, Wissett, on the north doorway, but there the forms are slightly more elaborate and presumably later. It probably dates from the 1140s (Tricker suggestsc.1140). It is surprising to find that the dramatic changes of 1967-68 are not mentioned in the 1975 revision of Pevsner.

Benefice of Rushmere St Andrew.


H. M. Cautley, Suffolk Churches and their Treasures. London 1937, 308.

D. P. Mortlock, The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches: 2 Central Suffolk. Cambridge 1990, 189-90.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Suffolk. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. E. Radcliffe 1975, 410-11.

R. Tricker, St Andrew - Rushmere: Church Guide. Rushmere 1983, revised 2001.