South Elmham St Cross


Pictures of buildings mentioned in the “Suffolk” volume of “The Buildings of England” series by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner.  Suffolk

Pevsner says South Elmham Hall is C16. but also refers to internal arches which by implication could pre-date that.  The Hall’s own web-site says that during restoration in the late 1980s wall paintings dating back to 1270 were found.  There is a visitor centre here with opening times best checked before visiting - the house also does bed and breakfast.  There are walks from the Hall to the Minster but they are not well signposted - at least not in a muddy November.  I got to the Minster from elsewhere using an Ordnance Survey map.  The first sign is here:

Then the Minster appears:

And here is the sign in more detail:

Pevsner says (on page 429) of the Minster: “The church whose impressive ruin should be visited lies in a coppice 0.5 miles SSW of South Elmham Hall.  It was in all probability not a minster or cathedral.  The bishopric founded by Felix c. 630 at Dunwich and divided c. 670 between Dunwich and Elmham refers to North Elmham in Norfolk.  The South Elmham church is mysterious in purpose and also in date and plan.  It has been assigned to the C7, and the C10, and the mid or late C11, but excavations now suggest a date not earlier than the C10.  Its plan is curious in that it consists of an apse nearly as wide as the nave (not preserved but excavated), a short, wide nave without aisles, and at its W end a square apartment of the same width as the nave.  This may have been a porch or a porticus or the substructure of a tower, as at North Elmham.  It is connected with the nave by a pair of openings, and the sleeper wall between nave and apse makes it likely that there was a tripartite division here, as at Bradwell, Reculver etc., in the C7.  The whole was 101 ft long.  The walls of flint stand up to c. 15 ft.”  Some of the ruins are seen in more detail here:

Moving on to South Elmham Hall Pevsner says “A C16 house with a stepped brick gable-end.  Inside it several stone arches which were built as doorways at the time when the Bishops of Norwich had a summer house here.  The arches are mostly Perp.” 

The main house can be seen here:

The stepped brick gable-end that is obscured by a tree above is better seen on the right here:

Pevsner continues: “By the side of the house the ruins of the so-called Chapel, a rectangular gabled building with no evidence of religious use”  seen here at a different time of year:

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