A history of Halesworth, Suffolk, UK, through the ages.


Volume 2


Stained Glass 

The stained glass in the church is mainly of the 19th century, and the memorial window to Patrick Stead in the outer South Aisle central window is by Ward & Hughes and it portrays the Ascension. The Tower window has glass by Clayton & Bell which merges the figures of Faith, Hope and Charity with a scene of 'Suffer the little children'.

The East Window over the altar is of the 1890s and set within the restored perpendicular style tracery. It is most probably by Lavers and Barraud, and it includes scenes of The Last Supper, The Nativity, The Presentation in the Temple, Gethsemane and The Three Marys.

The effects of the Reformation left many churches with objects or features which recall the earlier Catholic rituals. Most of these seem to have been removed at St.Mary's during the 19th century restorations, so that few remain. There are however, some features which can give us a flavour of the past.

Before the introduction of the clock, parishioners and priests would rely on the 'mass dial', a crude sundial scratched on the south wall of the church, for the times of services. A small hole would take the pointer, made of wood or lead, and which cast the shadow to measure the hours. The dial was scratched at three hour divisions to cater for 9.0am (morning mass), 12.00 (noon) and 3.0pm (vespers or evensong). Two such scratch dials appear to have survived, one on the S.E. buttress of the Chancel about 8ft high, and another on the buttress of the South Chapel where it meets the east end of the outer South Aisle.

Another item connected with the mass was the 'piscina', which is an elaborate drain, usually on the south side of the altar, which was used for washing the holy vessels used in the mass. Of the three piscinas in the church, only one is original, the 15th century perpendicular example now located on the north side of the altar. It is small with a cusped and crocketted ogee arch and panel tracery in the spandrels. It was discovered in the 1880s when the organ was being rebuilt and was probably connected with the Argentein Lady Chapel of the same period. The piscina on the south side of the altar is 19th century, and stands above the Danestones, while the piscina in the South Chapel, although of the Decorated period in style, also seems to be 19th century.

One would also expect to see a couple of stoups at the two porches, in which was placed holy water, but these will also have been removed in the rebuilding of the south porch, and at some point of restoration of the north porch.


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