Perpendicular means quite simply at right angles to the horizontal and much of this work was done in the 15th century. How did this come about?
The terrifying Black Death reached its peak 1348-50, killing a third of the population of England and leaving an acute shortage of skilled masons and craftsmen. At the same time, monasteries were depleted and the Wars of the Roses took their toll on the aristocracy. The heyday of building was over until the Victorians came along in the mid 19th century.
The art of medieval masonry expressed itself in Suffolk with beautiful flint flushwork in the walls of parish churches. When split or ‘knapped’, flint has a wonderful lustrous quality ranging from glassy black through tones of dark blue-grey and many hues of brown and cream. Look for prime examples of flint flushwork in the soaring tower of Eye St Peter and its buttresses.
You’ll find many examples of medieval glass from the 15th century as well as fragments of earlier glass. Bardwell St Peter and St Paul has one of the earliest complete 15th century panels in Suffolk and one of the finest collections in the country is at Long Melford Holy Trinity.
Magnificent angel roofs are unforgettable in Suffolk churches. Mildenhall, Woolpit, St Mary’s, Bury St Edmunds and Blythburgh are among the finest.
Outstanding carved screens and bench ends can be found in Suffolk churches displaying the amazing skill of the medieval craftsman.
Suffolk churches are famous for the brilliantly carved fonts that display the seven sacraments of baptism, confirmation, mass, penance, ordination to the priesthood, anointing of the sick and matrimony. Two of the best are at Badingham St John the Baptist, pictured, and Cratfield St Mary.
Find out more
Here are some other websites to help you discover more about Suffolk churches:
Simon Knott’s brilliant Suffolk Churches website – a travelogue round Suffolk churches.
Visit Michael Rimmer’s Angel Roofs of East Anglia website for amazing images and some fascinating research on angel roofs.
The Churches Visitor and Tourism website helps you find out more about churches to visit across the country.
Find more churches to visit and more historical facts at the Church of England’s ChurchDays website