We use cookies to improve your experience, some are essential for the operation of this site.

St Nicholas, Little Saxham, Suffolk

(52°14′34″N, 0°38′0″E)
Little Saxham
TL 799 638
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Suffolk
now Suffolk
  • Ron Baxter

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=5234.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.


Little Saxham is a small village in W Suffolk, just 3½ miles W of the centre of Bury St Edmunds. The church stands in the centre of the village. It is of flint and septaria and has a round W tower, a nave with a N aisle and a chancel with a N chapel, now used as a vestry. The tower is described by Pevsner as 'the most spectacular Norman round tower in Suffolk' on account of its arcaded bell-storey. It also has its original W window; small but decorated with chevron ornament and a tall, very narrow tower arch. The S nave doorway is 12thc. too, under a 14thc. porch, and another 12thc. doorway is now set inside, in the W wall of the nave, S of the tower arch. The N aisle, with a three-bay arcade of simply-moulded continuous arches with chamfered orders, dates fromc.1300, and to the same campaign belong the S clerestorey and the plain N nave and chancel doorways. The aisle windows have flowing and reticulated tracery and must have been added towards the middle of the 14thc. The chancel arch is tall and broad with Perpendicular capitals and bases. The nave S wall was remodelledc.1500 or slightly afterwards. It was heightened and given battlements and three-light windows in the plainest of Perpendicular styles. The N chapel was built as a chantry chapel by Sir Thomas Fitzlucas, Solicitor-General to Henry VII, in 1520. It has battlements and a window like those of the nave S wall. Fitzlucas died in 1531 after building his own tomb, decorated with shields in quatrefoils, but he was buried in London. He left a bequest for remodelling the chancel and adding battlements like those of the nave, but although the E window appears to date from this period the battlement was never added. Romanesque features described here are the S nave doorway, the re-set doorway and the windows, blind arcading, string course and tower arch. of the W tower.


The Domesday Survey records the following holdings in Great and Little Saxham. First, a carucate of land belonging to the king, held before the Conquest by six free men commended to Eadgifu. Second, a manor of 5 carucates held by St Edmundsbury Abbey. This also included woodland for 80 pigs and 5 acres of meadow. Third, Albert and Fulcher held (from the Abbot) three free men with 2½ carucates of land, 3 acres of meadow and woodland for five pigs. This parcel also included half a mill and two parts of a church with 6 acres of land. Fourth was, Richard fitzGilbert's holding of 15 acres that formerly belonged to a sokemen of Wihtgar. The manors of Little Saxham came into single ownership during the 15thc, and by 1490 they were held by Roger Darcy. He sold them in 1505 to Thomas Fitzlucas, who built Little Saxham Hall and the chantry chapel of the church.

Little Saxham is now in the Barrow Benefice, along with Great Saxham, Risby, Denham and Barrow.


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

String courses

Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

The re-set doorway is probably the cut-down 12thc. N doorway of the nave. As Pevsner notes, most of the 12thc. work is characterised by strong roll mouldings. The stylistically earlier volute capitals of the two doorways suggest a date around 1100, while the bell-stage of the tower is probably a decade or so later. The chevron-decorated W window may be contemporary with the bell-openings.

D. P. Mortlock, The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches: 1 W Suffolk. Cambridge 1988, 141-43.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Suffolk. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. E. Radcliffe 1975, 337-38.