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St Peter, Moulton, Suffolk

(52°14′59″N, 0°29′14″E)
TL 699 642
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Suffolk
now Suffolk
  • Ron Baxter

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St Peter's was originally a 12thc. building with angle shafts at the four corners of the nave, partly surviving. Two-bay aisles and short transepts have been added, and the nave roof raised and supplied with a tall clerestorey. All this is early 16thc. work, as is the light and airy chancel. There is a W tower ofc.1300 with a battlement, which looks short and stumpy against the heightened nave. The church was restored in 1850, and the S porch dates from that period. Construction is of flint, the clerestorey rendered. The nave angle shafts are described here, together with a figural relief slab now housed in a curtained-off vestry at the W end of the S aisle.


The Domesday Survey records that Moulton had been held as a manor by Stigand in the Confessor's time and was held in 1086 by Archbishop Lanfranc. It was a league long and 7 furlongs wide and given over mostly to sheep, of which there were 250, pigs (40) and beehives (4) to supply the monks. No church or priest was recorded. By 1210 the manor had passed to the Clare family, one of the great landowners of Suffolk, and under them the Cockfields. A market licence was granted by Edward I in 1298 to John de Aygneaus, who was apparently Lord of the Manor at that date.

Benefice of Gazeley with Dalham, Moulton and Kentford.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration


Loose Sculpture


The relief panel was not recorded by Cautley in 1937 or by Pevsner in 1961 (or the 1975 revision). It was there in time for Mortlock's 1988 survey. He described the panel as 'ancient', and suggested that it could conceivably represent Adam and Eve, and that it had formed part of a larger design. For the present author, the prime purpose of the relief sculpture was to shock and appal. The carving is savagely explicit in its emphasis on sexuality in much the same way as the exhibitionist figures commonly found on corbels. Its original setting is unknown, but it may have been a random relief on the exterior of the building, perhaps, but not necessarily part of a frieze. Dating is extremely difficult, but the second half of the 11thc. is certainly possible.

H. M. Cautley, Suffolk Churches and their Treasures. London 1937, 297.
Samantha Letters, Online Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England Wales to 1516 (http://www.history.ac.uk/cmh/gaz/ gazweb2.html): Suffolk (Centre for Metropolitan History, Institute of Historical Research: updated 23 February 2005).
D. P. Mortlock, The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches: 1 West Suffolk. Cambridge 1988, 158-59.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Suffolk. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. E. Radcliffe 1975, 368.