Outlook Issue 18 Winter 2014
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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Breathtaking craftsmanship
Have you ever looked really closely at our magnificent church porch? The wealth of craftsmanship, its variety and skill, are quite extraordinary. Flint flushwork, so typical of East Anglian churches, consists of dark pieces of split flint set on to rubble walls in a framework of contrasting cream freestone, sculpted into various shapes. St Mary’s north porch is a particularly fine example of the art and well-known to medieval art scholars. Just look at the stunning variety of flushwork here. Narrow lancet- shaped arches of creamy stone are filled with black flint panelling, and set in tier upon tier to the full height of the porch, giving a sense of strength and dignity. Then there are the motifs. At the base of both plinths are the Sacred Monograms of the Holy Name (Jesus) and of his mother Mary. Local medieval nobility are represented by heraldic shields, one with a tiny lion rampant, while square panels with a variety of intricate geometric designs adorn both sides of the porch. But perhaps most interesting of all are the Eucharistic motifs, one of which is unique to this church – a monstrance with a cross, the consecrated Host in the centre of its eye, encircled by a radiance (pictured). It appears at each end of the dado-level frieze on the West side of the porch. Whether or not it was part of the original medieval church, or whether it first appeared in a later restoration, we do not know, but it is a rarity to be treasured. In fact, the whole porch is a breathtaking piece of craftsmanship – like the church itself, an important part of our local heritage – and something to be valued and preserved for future generations. Mary Hodge