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St Peter, Palgrave, Suffolk

(52°21′49″N, 1°6′23″E)
TM 116 785
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Suffolk
now Suffolk
  • Ron Baxter

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Feature Sets

Palgrave is in the N of central Suffolk, half a mile S of the river Waveney that forms the border with Norfolk, and less than a mile S of Diss. Half a mile to the S runs the A143 linking Bury St Edmunds with Diss and Norwich. The village has spread out from its nucleus, with the church in the centre, and is surrounded by arable farmland. There was a second church in Palgrave, still surviving in a ruinous state in 1721 but entirely gone now. This was the chapel of St John, staffed by priests from St Edmundsbury Abbey, and it stood to the N of the road to Wortham, a mile to the SW, near the present St John's Farm.

St Peter's has a nave with a N aisle, chancel and W tower. The nave is of knapped flint, and its S windows are 15thc. but heavily restored. The 15thc. two-storey S porch is also of knapped flint and is decorated with flushwork. The N aisle was added in 1861, and has a five bay arcade. A N porch was added at the same time. The chancel arch dates fromc.1300, but the flint and septaria chancel, with its curious round-headed Y-tracery windows must be post-medieval. Pevsner suggests early 19thc., but notes that the antiquarian Tom Martin mentioned a new chancel in 1729. It was, in any case, restored in 1861. The flint and septaria tower and its tower arch are 14thc., and a knapped flint battlemented parapet has been added. The only 12thc. sculpture is on the elaborately carved font.


St Edmundsbury Abbey held Palgrave as a manor before and after the Conquest. In 1086 the estate included four carucates of ploughland, six acres of meadow and two churches with 30 acres of land. In the same place, 29 free men held two carucates of land less 12 acres; the soke and commendation belonging to the abbot. The abbey held the manor until the Dissolution.

North Hartismere benefice, i.e. Palgrave, Wortham, Burgate, Thrandeston, Stuston and Brome with Oakley.





Paley dated the Palgrave fontc.1180. Bond (1908) dated the bowl to the close of the 12thc. and the supports toc.1300, at which period, he thought, the corner masks were also carved. He related the fonts of Palgrave and Preston (both Suffolk), and Hunstanton (Norfolk) to the celebrated NW Norfolk group, including Shernborne, Toftrees, Sculthorpe and S Wootton. A formal connection certainly exists, although the Palgrave group is less plastic in its carving and relies more on geometrical decoration. Pevsner calls the font late Norman, and a S-Western rather than an East Anglian type, presumably thinking of fonts of the Bodmin type. Mortlock follows Pevsner on this point, but Bond's Norfolk connection is more convincing to the present author.

F. Bond, Fonts and Font Covers, London 1908, 57, 95-97, 151, 155, 191.
H. M. Cautley, Suffolk Churches and their Treasures. London 1937, 61, 303.
D. P. Mortlock, The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches: 1 West Suffolk. Cambridge 1988, 169.
F. A. Paley, Illustrations of Baptismal Fonts. London 1844 (not paginated).
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Suffolk. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. E. Radcliffe 1975, 390.