St Ethelbert's Church
Herringswell is one of four churches in Suffolk dedicated to St Ethelbert. The original church is recorded in the doomsday book with 60 acres of free land. Named after St Ethelbert the King of East Anglia, beheaded by Offa, the king of Mercia in 792. The original was replaced in the 14th century when a Guild was started in Herringswell with a priest to celebrate weekly mass.
On the outside of the church columns and quoins of the original Norman building can be found at the north east and south east corners of the nave.
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In 1869 a disastrous fire started during morning service, destroying most of the thatched church. The bells crashed down to the floor. The tower was not significantly damaged. Fortunately, the church was rebuilt almost immediately by Thomas Whitmore (builders) to a design by Arthur Blomefield. The three bells were recast and rehung and the tower remains as a highly individual and original profile from all angles.
On the west face of the tower is a stepped buttress up to the belfry stage and on the other side of it there are substantial stepped projections on the north and south faces, the latter containing the tower stairs, and twin light bell openings below the panelled battlements. The east wall of the tower and the stair turret both show an earlier and higher roofline possibly the upper surface of thatching.
The exterior of the church shows signs of repairs and changes. There is a niche above the transept window and a small trefoil over that. Similarly in the porch, there is a window over the door. The door has a fine double moulded surround which is partially obscured at the top by the roof. A stoup has been set into the moulding on the right hand side of the door, this was done prior to 1855.
Inside the church the tower continues to surprise. The arch is carried on octagonal piers, supported by flying buttresses angled from the sidewalls. Behind it tall narrow arches open on either side. This feature is original, not a part of the rebuilding.
see also Church Windows
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