Touching Place

ST ANDREW, WESTHALL, SUFFOLK

You'll need an OS map or a friendly native to help you find this church tucked away in a wooded valley outside the village. Enter by the north porch, and walk across into the tower. Only then will you see the 12th c. west doorway of the original 12th c. nave (the present south aisle), concealed when they built the tower c.1300; shortly after, the present nave and chancel went up.

Unspoilt by Victorian glass, and gently restored, this lovely building contains two treasures. One of the forty East Anglian Seven Sacrament fonts, the font has most familiarly and vividly the Elevation of the Host on the Mass panel on the eastern face. Familiar, as Eamon Duffy used this for the cover of The Stripping of The Altars. Vivid, as colour remains - a priest in a red-lined chasuble is watched by a server of 500 years ago.

Prayers are asked for the soul of Richard Love and for his widow Margaret Alen on the dado of the remarkable roodscreen (c.1510), whose painted saints include St James, St Michael defeating the dragon, St Leonard with his shackles, and St Anthony Abbot and his pig. Remarkable, because in the three figures of Christ, the Saviour of the World, flanked by Moses and Elijah, we have a rare representation of the Transfiguration of Christ on a roodscreen. The Transfiguration only became a widely observed feast in England c.1490, so little Westhall was at the cutting edge of medieval liturgical fashion.

Remember in prayer isolated but faithful Christians, especially FiF members. Give thanks to the Lord for all folk who care for remote churches and make visitors welcome. 'Tis good, Lord, to be here. Pray that we may allow our lives to be transformed by God's grace and transfigured by the light of Christ. OSref. TM 423804

Simon Cotton

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