Church Interior

WHAT TO SEE INSIDE THE CHURCH.
A superb traceried south door, which has admitted worshippers and visitors for at least 500 years, admits us to a church which is long and light.

The octagonal stone font beneath the tower is of a type which is common in East Anglia. It dates from the 15th Century and is in a fine state of preservation. Around the bowl are four lions, alternating with angels, bearing shields, which display the emblems of the Trinity (south-east), the Passion (south-west), the Cross (north-west) and the Blessed Sacrament (north-east). Directly beneath the bowl are angels with wings outstretched, also beautifully carved fleurons (flowers). Around the stem are lions alternately with wodewoses (wild, hairy men) bearing clubs. The western step, attached to the base, is made from part of a mediaeval coffin-lid.

A plain old door gives access to the 19th century vestry. It is not locked and the visitor entering the vestry and looking back towards the church, is faced with one of its greatest treasures - the magnificent Norman doorway, which dates from the early 12th century, and is in a superb state
of preservation. The arch has two orders of zig-zag moulding, resting upon two orders of colonettes.
Against the north wall of the vestry is another fine piece of mediaeval stonework. This appears to have been part of the beautiful traceried canopy and the pedestal of an image niche, which has been removed here from elsewhere in the church. It still bears traces of original mediaeval colouring in the stonework.

When the church interior was re washed/painted the door iron work and original 15 century door are in situ supported by a support door.

The chairman of the Round Tower association believes there may be a 12century crypt

The walls of the nave lean outwards with age and both nave and chancel have a continuous plaster ceiling, although the old timbers supporting the roof can still be seen at the summit of the walls. The wall-posts rest upon mediaeval stone corbels, which graduate from mediaeval heads at the west, to angels at the east. Near the vestry doorway is a plain but quite large chest of considerable age.

In the north wall of the nave is another (blocked) Norman Arch with roll-moulding around the head of the arch. The scale seems very ambitious- for a window, and some authorities suggest that it could have been another doorway, removed to this position for preservation. The north-east nave windowsill has been lowered to form a seat, which retains its original oak lining. Above it is a recess (maybe for a statue) cut out of the wall. Just to the east is the lower doorway to the rood-loft stairs, which has its original door and closing-ring. The stairs themselves are still in situ, although their upper entrance is now blocked. The 15th century hexagonal pulpit is another great treasure of the church and has some good traceried panels. It stands upon a modem base. Doughty refers to it being moved three times in the early 19th century at the behest of three rectors: when in 1882 a fourth wanted it moved again, a churchwarden suggested fixing it on castors to save future expenditure!

A three-bay arcade, resting upon octagonal piers with moulded capitals and bases, divides the south aisle from the nave. This aisle is the Doughty Chapel, and was rebuilt and re-fumished at the expense of this family in 1846. Its altar has a fine set of cross and candlesticks, and in the south-west comer stands the 17th century Communion Table which for many years was the main altar of the church. In the south wall is a simple ogee- headed piscina. The painting on the arcade and aisle roof is not mediaeval, but it makes one pause to imagine what the interior of a church must have looked like in that period when walls, roofs, windows, rood screen etc., were ablaze with colour.

The stalls on the south side of the chancel were in this chapel until it was rebuilt in 1846. A Davy MSS describing the church in 1848 refers to the chancel being nearly filled with pews; some may have been removed since. The rest of the seating in the church dates from the 19th century, although fragments of the mediaeval rood screen can be seen incorporated in parts of the choir stalls.

In the south wall of the sanctuary is a triple windowsill sedilia (seats provided originally and pre-Reformation for the Celebrant, Deacon and Subdeacon at High Mass). Beside them is a simple trefoil-headed piscina (where the sacred vessels were cleansed). In the east wall, on the south side, is an aumbry, or cupboard. Another aumbry can be seen in the north wall of the sanctuary, and this has its original mediaeval door. The stone arches flanking the east window are 19th century and may have contained the Lord's Prayer, Creed and Ten Commandments, which often occupied this position in our churches after the Reformation. The glass in the east window (c.1884) is by Ward & Hughes, and the windows in the Doughty Chapel contain colourful 19th century glass by Ward & Nixon, c. 1848.

In the nave near its eastern end, is a small brass inscription (about 9" x 2") commemorating Katherine Pays. It is in Latin and was probably engraved locally, about 1500. As the brass is protected beneath the carpet, a rubbing is fixed on the end of a nearby pew on the north side of the nave aisle, for the convenience and interest of visitors.  The inscription reads:  Orate pro anime Katherine Pays C 1500. Cujus anime propitiatory deus Amen. Translated: Pray for the soul of Katherine Pays. On whose soul may God have mercy. Amen

East of this is a stone burial slab, to the south of which is a 13th century coffin-lid and part of another slab.

There are several black ledger slabs in the chancel. One on the north side has a fine coat of arms. Another, near the sanctuary steps, commemorates Florence Milner Gibson, who died in 1842 aged 3 years and 7 months. A stone slab in the floor behind the altar commemorates a former Rector, Benjamin Taylor (died 1748) and Elizabeth his wife (died 1747).

On the south chancel wall is a wall tablet to Thomas Ingham (died 1720) and his wife. On the north wall are some later memorials to the Milner Gibson and Wootton families.

On the walls and in the windows of the Doughty Chapel are memorials to the Doughty family. A particularly striking one can be seen on the west wall. A stained glass window on the north side of the nave commemorates Lt. Col. Doughty-Wylie, who won a posthumous V.C. on the heights of
Sedd-el-Bahr, Gallipoli, where he was killed in 1917 and where a monument to his memory now stands.

There are now six bells in the tower, although MSS. of Davy record four - one dated 1590 and two 1614. Five of these were cast by Mears in 1875, and the tenor weighs 6:1 cwt. In 1957 a new treble was added and the bells were retuned. The new bell was cast by Taylor's and the work was done mainly through the generosity of a local wheelwright, Reuben Wright, who won a large sum of money on the Irish sweepstake.

Bell information at St. Peter’s Church, Theberton

Bell

Weight

(cwt-qtr-lb)

Nominal

(Hz)

Note

 

Diameter

(Inches)

Dated

Founders

Canons

 

3-1-4

1558.5

G

23.88

1956

John Taylor & Co.

F

 

3-3-2

1387.0

F

26.13

1875

Mears & Stainbank

R

`

3-3-20

1236.0

Eb

27.63

1875

Mears & Stainbank

R

 

4-2-4

1168.0

D

29.25

1875

Mears & Stainbank

R

 

5-1-0

1039.0

C

31.25

1875

Mears & Stainbank

R

 

6-2-9

926.5

Bb

33.63

1875

Mears & Stainbank

R

 

Amongst the church plate there was an Elizabethan re-hammered chalice, with a floriated band around the bowl, also a somewhat battered paten-lid.  Sadly this was stolen in 2016 and has been replaced by a chalice and plate donated by …. in Essex which were originally used by a Workhouse.

The church possesses a precious copy of the New Testament with the Erasmus Preface, dating from the 16th century.

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