St. Andrew’s, Wingfield

The Church of Saint Andrew
Wingfield, Suffolk IP21 5RA

The Church of St. Andrew, Wingfield is a Grade I listed building in the United Kingdom. The building of the present church, was built on the site of an earlier church following the founding of Wingfield College by the Will of Sir John de Wingfield (ca. 1307-1361) on 8 June 1362 and was restored in the 19th and 20th centuries. The foundation charter states that “the church must be in great part built anew…and constructed on a larger scale than before…at very great expense.

The South Porch, which was the original main entrance to the Church from the west College precinct (altered in the 18th century to a circular drive) and is said to have been built by Michael de la Pole, 1st Earl of Suffolk (c.1330-5 September 1389), who was the son-law of Sir John de Wingfield and husband of Elizabeth de Wingfield (1350-1386). Over the outer doorway is a niche with a canopy which once contained the figure of St. Andrew and on either side of the entrance doorway are heads of a knight and lady (possibly Sir John de Wingfield and his wife Alianore (ca.1308-1375)).

The perpendicular period roof in the Nave is of open timber work and are nearly all modern and belong to the restoration work done in 1866, but in the Lady Chapel there are considerable remains of the old timbers. It was formerly painted in panels at the east end and bore the monogram IHC in foliage until the roof was last restored. The only decoration now left are four corbels of carved angels bearing shields. There are five arches on either side dividing the nave from the side aisles. The ten clerestory windows are perpendicular, and were fully restored in 1996. At the east end of the north and south aisles are stone and brick stairs, leading to the now lost rood screen (the rood screen would have stretched the whole breadth of the Church and divided the Chancel and side Chapels from the body of the Church).

The North and South aisles of the Church were originally meant to continue to the extreme east end of the Church. The south aisle structurally remains as it was extended by the de la Poles, but the north aisle has been blocked by the organ and the solid wall which now forms the east side of the Organ Chamber (Chapel of St. Margaret). There used to be an opening in this wall, traces of which are still to be seen, which led through to the Chapel of the Holy Trinity beyond (now the Vestry) and so made a continuous aisle from the west end of the Church to the east.

The Chancel height is impressive, equal to the Nave. The roof which underwent extensive repair in 1866, has its principals supported between each clerestory window by corbels of angels, some bearing shields and some scrolls and one a chalice, but all the other ornaments are gone. The 15th century choir stalls with miserere seats were originally used by the College. The large east window is early perpendicular and has fragments of medieval glass with arms of Wingfield and de la Pole with badges of Wingfield (wings) de la Pole (leopard head) and Stafford (knots).

There are three impressive monuments, the oldest in stone on the north wall under a fine ogre canopy is of Sir John de Wingfield, Lord of the Manor of Wingfield and Chief Administrator of Edward of Woodstock (known as the Black Prince) business affairs, who was the eldest son of Edward III of England and his wife Philippa of Hainault. This monument would have been colored originally. It is possible that this figure rested on its own monument in the Chantry Chapel (now the vestry) and that when this was falling to pieces, it was removed to the position where it now rests.

Sir John de Wingfield’s tombstone and effigy is not the only monument to a Wingfield.  Beside it is a Purbeck marble slab with the indents of a once fine monument brass showing a lady resting her head on a pair of cushions under a canopy, with shields above and below the canopy arch.  The brass was obviously a prestigious one to a high-ranking lady.  Even though no inlay remains, there are sufficient clues to support a case that it commemorates Alianor de Wingfield, nee Glanville, wife of Sir John de Wingfield (in Peter Bloore and Edward Martin’s book “Wingfield College and its Patrons”, there is strong evidence Alianor may actually be the daughter of Sir Thomas de Verlay and his wife Joan, who suggest is a Glanville, probably the daughter of John de Glanville and Joan de Grymeleys). The position at the foot of Sir John de Wingfield’s tomb monument is highly suggestive of a relationship between the two.

The next oldest monument is on the south side of the Sanctuary.  This is the tomb of Michael de la Pole, 2nd Earl of Suffolk (1367–17 September 1415) and his wife Katharine de Stafford (c. 1376–8 April 1419).  These were originally wooden effigies and were originally colored.

The last of the monuments is on the north side of the Sanctuary and carved on alabaster are of John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk (27 September 1442 – 14~21 May 1492) and his wife Elizabeth of York (22 April 1444 – c.1503), who was the sister of Edward IV and Richard III of England. Under the Duke’s head is a helmet surmounted by a Saracen’s head with an earring in the right ear and at his feet is a lion with a forked tail.

The Lady Chapel is on the south side of the Chancel and is separated from it by arches and parclose screen.  An early Master of the College, Stephen Coppelowe, is buried here, along with many others.

The Chapel of the Holy Trinit is now used as the Vestry.  The entrance to this Chapel is by a canopied doorway richly carved and ornamented.  There is a curious double screen in this chapel the top part of which forms the east end of an upper chamber which extends over three quarters of the Vestry.  The entrance to this chamber is reached by a ladder from the Vestry.  The east and north windows contain medieval glass.  They too were fully restored in 1996.

The Chapel of St. Margaret is now used as the Organ Chamber, which today includes a Victorian organ.  There is a large niche, over which must have been a canopy.

The Font stands in the middle of the west end of the Nave.  It was placed in the Church by Michael de la Pole, 2nd Earl of Suffolk, about 1405.  On the panels of the bowl are angels holding shields and lions sejant alternately.  The shield facing east bears the de la Pole arms quartering Wingfield and on the south side are the Stafford arms, and on the north side those of Wingfield.

The Tower stands at the west end, and has a newel stairway outbuilt on its south side.  There are 55 stone steps leading to the belfry which contains six bells, the oldest dated 1596.


Wingfield Church History & Guide, November 1999

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