Trees grace the landscape of Spexhall to such an extent that the fields and meadows here seem to exist amidst a profusion of branches, so that in the green and golden days of Summer the whole district suggests a vast undulating parkland, with occasionally the mellowed red of a tiny habitation peeping from some stray corner, contrasting with the leafy scene. And this delightful type of country is no more apparent than in the neighbourhood of the church, for here we find a pleasant spot indeed, emphasised by the old pink-washed rectory almost hidden from view of the church yard by spreading boughs, with the result that the whole aspect breathes entirely of peace and of the sober glories and quiet homeliness so infinitely inspiring in the more pleasant districts of the Suffolk countryside.

Although the Church of St. Peter here is not so outstanding as many of its kind, it yet possesses several interesting features, and this despite the fact that extensive restoration took place some sixty years ago The most important renovation occurred, however, in 1911, for at that time the ruins of the tower which came into being during the times of the Saxons, and after a grand old life of some seven hundred years crashed to the ground in 1720. were removed, and the present tower constructed-as far as possible on the lines of its ancient predecessor-whilst as a point of interest one of the original bells still performs the work it has done for years-calling across the scented country-side for the inhabitants of Spexhall to bend the knee in prayer.

The body of St. Peter's Church has chancel, nave and South porch, the latter apparently dating from the fourteenth century, whilst on the opposite side of the building is a doorway, filled in, as is often the case, but bearing that unmistakable appearance one associates with the days of the Notmans even although the arch lacks the decorative effect usual to the period. Norman work, however, is quite in evidence at Spexhall Church, for in, some of the fifteenth century windows stones which obviously date from that time have been utilised, and in themselves assist to give a somewhat uncommon effect to these later additions.

In the wall of the nave, close by the South porch, remains a stoup once used for holy water, and this is in a much better state of preservation than the majority of its kind. And the latter remark applies also to the font, for here, again? this octagonal affair, its bowl graced by plain shields, is in quite good condition.

Another interesting feature is the rood-loft doorway, but three steps only remain at the present day. Unfortunately the Church of St.Peter at Spexhall lacks those magnificent bench-ends which have made so many of our Suffolk houses of worship famous, for the seating accommodation due to restoration, is plain and new.

Yet not all the seats here are of modern date, although to discover anything of consequence it is necessary to visit the chancel. And here can be seen a rather curious collection, which, in my not inconsiderable experience, is unique.

For although the stalls only came into being within recent times, the ends gracing these, quite definitely, did not. To give the period in which they first saw the light is impossible, for, truth to tell, they are a mixture of several styles. In fact, strictly speaking, this remarkable collection has no right to be in Spexhall Church at all, as the bench-ends have been collected from various sources and placed in their present position in order that some of the seats at least may possess work of a decorative nature. Some are very much mutilated; all of them are old. But in any case, they assist to relieve the plainness of the bare benches.

Also in the chancel is preserved a cinquefoil piscine. The chancel, in fact, can claim to be the most interesting part of the building for here are excellent brasses which many larger church would be very pleased to possess. Yet, it is only through the care of somebody who appreciated the value of such survivals that these particular brasses exist, for they were discovered, considerably damaged, after the restoration of 1876-the "Remnants of wanton desecration during the Civil Wars."

Despite their unfortunate history, however the brasses are in quite good condition-or perhaps, it is better to say that they have been so carefully and conscientiously repaired that few signs of mutilation can be discerned. Moreover, they are now in a position where they will escape the natural wear common to those which remain on the floor, and consequently, are walked upon by the feet of generations of worshippers for these brasses have been fastened to a tablet on the wall. One bears the date 1591, and refers to John Browne, who was the owner of a manor in Spexhall, known as Burghard's. Another brass shows the effigy of his wife, Silvester, who died some two years after her husband, whilst a group of six sons and two inscriptions remain, although, unfortunately, a group showing the five daughters of the marriage is lost. One of the latter, however, is commemorated by another brass, but Mary Downing, to give her married name, outlived her parents a few years only, as the date of her death is recorded as 1601.

Very little more need be written about Spexhall Church, but before leaving this friendly little building it is as well to notice the tablet on the North wall of the nave, giving the names of the men of the village who died in the war. For this, in a sense, possesses a very original feature, as against each name is placed the cap badge of the regiment to which the man commemorated belonged.

Incidentally, a cross has been raised in the churchyard as a further memorial, a cross which in its peaceful setting looks strangely inspiring. The tablet referred to above was erected by the parents of Lieut. John Ditton Calvert, in view of which it is interesting to notice the brass tablet to his father, who died in 1930, and who "helped to make this church more beautiful," partly by the gift of the reredos.
For twenty-one years he was churchwarden here-in fact, during the whole period he lived in Spexhall. His home was at the Manor House, a residence partly moated, standing some distance from the church, and which has been considerably modernised in recent years.
Yet the alterations here have not been altogether of the kind which push the older work into the background. In one respect, at least, they have had the opposite result. For to-day is exposed red brick in a herringbone pattern between ancient timber, so that the Manor House, in its setting of spreading trees, seems like some wholesome survival of the past-a substantial piece of old England which the years have failed to destroy.

Mention of the Manor House naturally leads us to the manors of Spexhall, but although though there were three of these, only one -that of Spexhall itself-need concern us. And certainly this particular estate has been linked with sufficient affairs of import to provide a tale worth telling, for many of its old-time owners played prominent parts in struggles which loom large on the pages of England's fighting story.
At Domesday, the Manor of Spexhall was held by Alan, Earl of Brittany, but about two hundred years later it passed into the possession of Williams, the second Lord Roos, who boasted royal blood in his veins, his ancestor being that virile Scottish King, whose fearless demeanour in many a stern struggle won for him the proud title of William the Lion, and William Roos seems to have inherited his forebear's martial spirit, for he fought in many a battle on the fields of both Gascony and his own native land, and for his warrior services was appointed Warden of the West Marches.

He died in 1316, and his son, of the same Christian name, who succeeded, also proved himself a fighting man of no mean ability, whilst he seems to have possessed diplomatic talents, as well, for we find him amongst those accompanying the Archbishop of York in his efforts to make peace with that dour Scotsman whose object-lesson in perseverance is known to every schoolboy-Robert Bruce. Later, this owner of Spexhall Manor followed in his father's footsteps that is, he wielded his sword, first in Gascony and then in Scotland. The next to inherit was also a soldier, and, what is more, he played a mighty part in one of the epic battles between the English and the French. For this particular Roos -again called William, and son of the last-mentioned-was no less than one of the leaders in the little army which smashed the forces of Philip of France at Crecy, and paved the way for the capture of a town which was to remain in
English hands for many a long year- the port of Calais.

William de Roos shared in the latter exploit, but before doing so he returned to England, and commanded some of the troops which routed the Scots at Nevill's Cross, capturing their king and many of their mightiest men. Still his zest for fighting was unappeased, however, for some years after the fall of Calais we find our lord of Spexhall Manor adventuring in the Holy Land, one of that zealous band who were endeavouring to wrest it from the Turks. And in that country his stormy life came to a close, although, apparently, he died, not by a sword-thrust or the swing of a battle-axe, but from illness.

Of the subsequent story of the manor there is no space to write, for several things remain to be said about the village. And, having mentioned the Manor House, it is as well to notice the very attractive residence of Fairstead Farm, for here is a building in which seems to exist the very essence of English country life
To do Fairstead justice in a brief description is impossible. Suffice it, that the house has been restored so magnificently that the old and new merge gracefully one into the other. Wonderful old timber abounds everywhere, its seasoned appearance harmonising with the mellowed brickwork. And, surrounding it all are terraces and gardens, trim hedges, and cool lawns; whilst romping on the latter handsome dogs lend themselves magnificently to a scene typical of England's inherent homeliness.

Several other pleasant houses exist in Spexhall, and there is a nice old inn bearing the wholesome title of the Huntsman and Hounds. Spexhall, in fact, is a place which is singularly fortunate in its possessions, so that in many respects it seems to be a stronghold preserving those happy features which provide so much of Suffolk's unspoiled charm.

YEOMAN. September 18th 1936