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St Andrew, Walberswick, Suffolk

(52°18′50″N, 1°39′6″E)
TM 490 747
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Suffolk
now Suffolk
medieval St Andrew
now St Andrew
  • Ron Baxter
31 May 2018

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Feature Sets

Walberswick is a village on the Suffolk coast, a mile S of Southwold but separated from that town by the River Blyth. It consists of a long road, The Street, with the church at the W end and the mouth of the Blyth and the beach at the E. St Andrew’s was formerly a church on the scale of Southwold and Blythburgh, consisting, at its height, of a long chancel, nave with aisles, a clerestory and a 2-storey S porch, and a W tower. The tower was begun after a contract of 1426 and completed by 1450. Thereafter the church was rebuilt and dedicated in 1496. Money was bequeathed for completing the aisles, roof and chancel from 1500-17, but by 1695 a petition for the demolition of most of it was made, and the church now consists of the tower, 5 bays of the S nave aisle and the porch, all of flint with flushwork decoration. The remainder forms a picturesque ruin of flint rubble cores to the E and N. The tower was restored by J. T. Micklethwaite in 1892-93. The building history suggests that the tower was added to an earlier church, but in fact the old church was a mile away, nearer to the coast, and nothing of this remains to see. When the new church was built some features were transferred from the old church, including bells, windows and images, One of the last may be the reset corbel in the infill of the tower arch; the only feature described here.


Walberswick was not mentioned by name in the Domesday Survey, but the ‘wic’ suffix suggests an Anglo-Saxon origin. It was formerly a chapelry of Blythburgh, and was probably treated as part of that manor in 1086. Blythburgh was held by Edward the Confessor in 1066, and by King William in 1086; the manor being held from him by Roger Bigod. In the reign of Henry I Blythburgh was granted to the Bishop of Norwich, who exchanged it with William de Chaney, who became Lord. ASt his death it passed to his widow, Margaret and her next husband, Robert fitzRoger. Their descendants took the name of Clavering, and it remained with that line until the 14thc.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

The tower arch was blocked when the nave was demolished at the end of the 17thc, and the corbel could have been incorporated then or during the restoration of 1892-93. There are 15thc gargoyles and grotesques surviving on the tower and elsewhere in the fabric, but they bear no similarity to this. The significant feature; the brow ridge continuing to form the edges of the nose somewhat similar to the nose-piece of a helmet, is a common Romanesque type, although no other examples have been noted in Suffolk so far.


J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Suffolk: East, New Haven and London 2015, 559-60.

C. Collins, Archaeological Test Pit Excavations in Walberswick, Suffolk 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, Cambridge 2017.

Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy ID: 285568

D. P. Mortlock, The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches: 3 East Suffolk. Cambridge 1992.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Suffolk. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. E. Radcliffe 1975, 472.

Warner, P. ‘Walberswick: The Decline and Fall of a Coastal Settlement’. Medieval Settlement Research Group Report No 16, 2001.