At this time of the year, particularly, the countryside around Chediston presents a delightful picture indeed, for here is the green grass cropped almost into the vestige of a lawn by solemn-eyed cattle, who themselves intensify a vista entirely Arcadian, and, therefore, singularly peaceful. Here, also, is an abundance of thatch snugly sheltering weathered cottages) and farmhouses, whose mellowed brickwork tells of a long and honourable age, whilst one of these habitations is rendered even more dignified by the stalwart and impressive chimneys which the Tudor period has made famous.

In a very pleasant churchyard, from which the view is one of quiet, pastoral beauty, and where there stands a cross to those Chediston men who fought and died in the war, is reared the Church of St. Mary, a building of chancel and nave, filled-in North doorway, South porch and Western tower, the latter, as one usually discovers, embattled, whilst, as a matter of interest, three of its bells were recast in 1897 by the Misses Tuck, of Halesworth, and another added to their memory some nine years later, making five bells in all.

Over the outer entrance of the porch are traces where a niche has been filled in, whilst the windows have suffered the same fate. Here, however, is one interesting item at least, in this case a recess which obviously suggests the former existence of a holy water stoup, and in the South wall of the nave itself, quite close to the porch, is another recess of a similar nature.

At first glance, the interior of St. Mary's Church at Chediston appears to be somewhat modern, a fact undoubtedly due to the extensive renovations which have occurred here on several occasions. This sense of newness, however, is only momentary, for here are several survivals which go far back into the past, and, undoubtedly, one of the most impressive of these is the high-pitched roof of fifteenth-century work, although, unfortunately, the figures of angels formerly gracing the hammer-beams have been ruthlessly removed, most probably by the Puritan iconoclasts, for we know for a fact that Chediston Church was the scene of one of Will Dowsing's infamous exploits.

Even now, however, the roof is sufficiently imposing and dignified, and, being on the subject of woodwork, the pulpit next claims the attention, for here is an affair richly and delicately carved as befits a survival of the Jacobean period, for on it is the date 1637. In a remarkable state of preservation, it does much to dignify the interior of the Chediston house of worship, although in point of fact it was never constructed for this particular edifice at all, having originally graced the nearby church of Cookley, eventually being purchases by the Rev. A. R. Upcher.

Another splendid survival retained by Chediston is the fifteenth century font, or whose bowl are depictions of angels holding shields, on which are the emblems of the Passion. Also, the semi-figures of angel, support the bowls, whilst around the stem are, alternately, the representations of lion and "wild men," commonly known as "wode-woses."

One or two poppyheads, somewhat mutilated. are in evidence, but perhaps one of the most striking affairs, so far as woodwork is concerned, is preserved beneath the tower. The majority of our houses of worship possess a chest of sorts, usually quite old, but here is something really exceptional. For this particular chest was hewn out of the solid oak i itself, perhaps as long ago as the fourteenth century, and although smaller than most, its very appearance bears a certain rude dignitythe dignity and the sturdiness born of such massive things as this, whilst its tremendous ironwork emphasises an attraction which is one of mighty strength and age-old solidity.

And beneath this stalwart relic is one much younger and much more artistic in appearance; for here we discover a contemporary of the pulpit-that is, an example of Jacobean workmanship. So thus they stand, both magnificent specimens of two entirely different ages, in each of whose appearance there is a wide appeal, emphasised by the attraction born of contrast.

But now we come to a survival which is interesting enough in another way. Mention has been made of various restorations in the church, and one of these which occurred towards the end of the last century certainly justified itself in no uncertain manner. For at that time plaster which for countless years had covered the walls was removed, upon which various traces of medieval wall-paintings were once more revealed to the eyes of men. One of these is in a most excellent state of preservation indeed-much more so than one usually discovers. It can be seen high on the North wall, and takes the form of a large head, believed with every reason to represent St. Christopher; and so plain does it appear, so well has it survived, that the expression on the face is almost life-like.

Several other mural paintings were discovered at the same time, but apparently only this striking depiction is now visible. Another item brought to light was an angle piscina of the Early English period, which can be seen in the usual position in the chancel, next to it being sedilia, whilst close by is a small but rather attractive 13th century window, in which is stained glass exhibiting the arms of the mighty family of Mowbray.

No brasses are in evidence, but in the nave a slab bears matrices showing where brasses once were affixed. A rather curious addition to the church at Chediston is the chamber built on the North side of the nave, a plain affair of brick, but interesting because of its' uncommon origin. For this seems to have been constructed originally as a burial-place for the Fleetwood family, although in later years it was adapted as the private pew for those in residence at Chediston Hall.

As the Fleetwoods were connected with the manors of the village, a fitting opportunity occurs of dealing briefly with the story of these. And in the days of the Conqueror several manors were in evidence here, and were owned by three powerful Normans, including Robert de Vallibus, who founded a priory at Pentney. in Norfolk, and gave Chediston Church to that particular religious establishment.

Eventually, out of the several manors, three emerged, and one of these belonged in 1263 to Hubert de Bavent, through which it was afterwards known by the name of Bavents. It remained in the possession of this family for about a century, the next owner being Sir Robert Shardelowe, whose death occurred in 1399. For some time his descendants were here, but by the year 1547 Ralph Everard had
acquired the manor, and, on the death of his son, it was secured by the Nortons, from which it was often termed Norton Bavents.

From the trustees of Walter Norton the Manor was purchased in the 17th century by the Pettus family, and in 1655 the lordship was held by Sir John Pettus, who, like many another in those turbulent days, had suffered severe financial misfortune through his unflinching allegiance to a lost cause. For Sir John was a king's man, and when the Parliament had seized the reins of power he was compelled to pay heavily for his loyalty.

Eventually, Norton Bavents Manor was purchased by George Fleetwood and from the executors of Gustavus Fleetwood was acquired by Walter Plumer, who rebuilt the ancient residence known as Chediston Hall, in the Elizabethan style. From the Plumers the manor was sold to George Parkyns, and the present owner is a relation. The two other manors in Chediston were known as Wright's and Hovell's. In the time of eighth Henry the former was vested in Sir John Glemham, and from his son it was purchased by Robert Norton, afterwards following practically the same course as the main manor.

Hovell's belonged to the family of that name when Henry III. was King, and that they were held in high esteem in the colourful days of chivalry is proved by the fact that in the list of knights drawn up in the reign of the second Edward their name came first amongst the families of Suffolk. Later the manor was owned by the Lovedays, who were in possession for many generations, but eventually it passed in the same way as the two mentioned above.

Having referred to Chediston Hall, which stands in pleasant park land, it is interesting to notice a much older building, the house known as Chediston Grange, whose brickwork has been softened into many delightful tints by the rain and sunshine of centuries giving it the restrained appeal of age emphasised by its encircling moat. Another house here now bears the name of Pear Tree Farm but up till quite recently was called Packway Farm, a designation which suggests a link with a primitive road in days long gone.

It would be possible to continue for quite a long time upon the various items which assist to beautify this pleasant village of East Suffolk-a village in whose appearance there is nothing that jars, no intruding note of modernity, no suggestion of anything but the quiet and homely things of life. And the story of Chediston is entirely in keeping with its peaceful appearance, for over the rolling centuries nothing seems to have disturbed its serene and placid existence. Generations of its people have tilled the land here, have played their parts in the great scheme of things, and eventually have found repose in the green and pleasant churchyard - the churchyard which gazes over the fields and meadows, the brown-thatched cottages, the unspoiled aspect of Chediston village and the Chediston country side.

YEOMAN. April 26th 1935