The Harling and Guiltcross Benefice

Riddlesworth, St Peter

Riddlesworth Church

 

Contacts

Revd Simon Richardson: revskcr@gmail.com

parish: riddlesworth@harlingguiltcrossbenefice.org.uk

website administration: website@harlingguiltcrossbenefice.org.uk

 

 

History of St Peter's

The Domesday Book in 1086 records Redelefuuorda as Riddlesworth was then called – “the village abounding with reeds” as being part of the Guiltcross Hundred. The total value of Riddlesworth was 30s in 1086 and the tax was 11½d.

The original church dates to the 13th Century and was a simple structure, the remains of which are incorporated into the west end of the building. The tower was added in the fifteenth century at the western end of the building. It was unusual in having processional arches on the northern and southern faces, these are now sealed.

In 1565 the Lordship of the Manor of Riddlesworth came into the possession of Sir Drugo Drury who built the first Riddlesworth Hall. His elaborate sculptural wall tomb stands on the north wall of the church and shows Sir Dru kneeling in prayer flanked by angels. Further Drury monuments are set in the floor towards the choir. They record members of the Drury family and their servants killed by falling chimneys in the Great storm of 1703.

There is only one Bell in the Parish Church and it is inscribed with “Diana Lady Drury, John Goldsmith fecit 1716”. It was cast at Redgrave and is a rare example of this founder’s work. It hangs in its original oak frame, designed to hold three bells.

In 1789 the bought the Riddlesworth Estate was purchased by Silvanus Bevan, a Quaker and member of the Barclays banking family. An agricultural innovator Silvanus set about improving the entire estate. He tore down the Manor House built by Dru Drury and in 1792 built a new home slightly to the south designed by Thomas Leverton. He appears to have had little impact on the church, however.

In 1814 Thomas Thornhill of Fixby bought the Riddlesworth Estate. Monuments to the first and second wives of Thomas Thornhill flank the nave of the church. The church was depicted by local artist Robert Ladbroke (d.1842) and by this period the thatch roof had changed to partially tiled at the western end and a small porch was also added to the main entrance on the southern face of the church.

In the Victorian era, the east end of the church was extended to create a separate choir. Table monuments recoded by Blomfield in 1739 which stood at the previous east end were repurposed with their marble panels now lining the walls of the altar area. The wooden paneling of the church is reputed to be repurposed former box pews from the nearby redundant (1933) church of Knettishall. The Charles I coat of arms with the inscription 1632, overpainted 1666 which hangs at the western end of the church interior also came from Knettishall.

In 1893 the Estate was sold to the Champion family who, following a fire built the current Hall at the beginning of the 20th Century. There is a very fine Champion memorial on the northern wall of the choir. A family vault also sits beneath the east end of the church.

St Peter's is Listed Grade 2* and is of national importance.

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