Saint Peters Church
Welcome to this sacred and beautiful building, which Moulton folk have loved, cared for and prayed in for eight hundred years. Our forefathers have spared no amount of time, money or hard work to make it beautiful and it is our task, is to maintain it, for God's glory and for the use and enjoyment of future generations. Those who worship here would welcome your prayers and any contribution that you could spare for this important and costly task.
Moulton is situated near the borders of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, about three and a half miles east of Newmarket, and eleven miles west of Bury St Edmunds. It is an attractive village, with several picturesque houses. The river Kennet flows through the village, where a fine "Packhorse Bridge" which dates from the 15th century spans it. This bridge has four pointed arches and a low parapet to ensure a safe journey for the goods carried by the pack-horses along its narrow roadway.
The parish church of St Peter stands to the south of the village, amongst trees and in a fine and elevated position. The impressive situation of this church is itself a noteworthy feature and the lofty and elegant proportions of its embattled flint walls add to the beauty of its commanding position, overlooking the river valley and the countryside around.
There was a church here in the time of the Normans. The extent of the Norman nave can be seen in the exterior walls where the stone shaft marking its four corners can be seen in the east and west walls of the south aisle and also, in a simpler form, in corresponding places in the north aisle. The tower dates from the early 14th century - the decorated period of English architecture. It is a fine tower, but it is now somewhat dwarfed by the lofty nave and clerestory, which together with the aisles and chancel, were erected during the late 15th or early 16th centuries, at the height of the Perpendicular period. In 1851, the whole building underwent a thorough restoration, costing £2,000 of which a large amount was given by the Rector, Rev'd Edwin Mortlock. During this restoration much of the external stonework was renewed and the interior was refurbished. The church, which is cruciform, consists of - square west tower, nave, with north and south transeptal chapels and chancel.
The approximate internal dimensions of the building are as follows:- Nave Length 50ft 3ins breadth 24ft 9ins Chancel Length 40ft 9ins breadth 19ft Aisles Length 31ft breadth (North) 13ft 9ins (South) 11ft
Chapels Length 19ft 6ins breadth (North) 17ft (South) 16ft 3ins Tower Length (E/W) 11ft 9ins breadth (N/S) 10ft Length (N/S) 9ft 10ins breadth (E/W) 8ft
This church has an imposing exterior, which is worth viewing generally from a short distance away and also examining in detail (although much of what we see today is a careful 19th century restoration of the original work).
The square western tower dates from the early 14th century and gives the appearance of being built on a slightly lower ground than the rest of the church. It is a noble tower and is seen at its best as we approach the church from the west. The two western corners are strengthened by small buttresses. The west doorway has a deeply moulded arch, under a hood mould which rests upon the original corbel heads. The two-light west window above it is a very pleasing example of decorated architecture. The ringing chamber is lit by single, trefoil headed windows and above the western one is a clock, which was given in 1879, in memory of Rev E.Mortlock, the restorer of the church. The tall double belfry windows have trefoil heads and later transoms. Those on the north and south faces of the two are flanked by additional single windows, also trefoil headed with transoms. There is an embattled parapet and rainwater is drained from the tower roof by means of fine gargoyles on the north, south and west sides. The unusual and distinctive weather-vane takes the form of a large and healthy looking fish! To the north of the tower are the remains of some kind of small annexe, which may have been an anchorite's cell, and which had a doorway into the west wall of the north aisle of the church. The remainder of the church is in the Perpendicular style of architecture and is over a century and a half later than the tower.
The exception to this is the 12th century work in the eastern and western walls of the aisles. Those on the south side take the form of stone columns in the flint masonry and those on the north side are upper parts of stone quoins. The north aisle doorway has a plain arch, with slightly concave moulding. The walls of the church are pierced by large and fine Perpendicular windows. Those in the aisles are of three lights - there are two in the north and one in the south aisle. The transeptal chapels have a four-light east window in the lateral sides and a similar four-light east window. These are excellent windows, with embattled transoms. The chancel has pairs of lofty three-light windows in the north and south sides and a handsome east window of five lights, which is divided horizontally by a transom. The priest's doorway in the south of the chancel, which has fleurons and foliage in the arch, has been entirely renewed. Above the aisles, on the north and south sides are fine sets of six three-light clerestory windows, of the late perpendicular period, which are under a continuous hoodmould and have stepped transoms.
The aisles, chapels, clerestory and chancel all have embattled parapets, above string courses in which are carved tiny heads and fleurons. Some weathered mediaeval gargoyles can be seen above the nothern and southern clerestory windows, but these are very worn indeed.
The south porch is entirely of 19th century date. It is small and embattled, with square headed, double lateral windows. Its outer entrance arch has a hoodmould resting on shield corbels and the arch of the inner doorway is studded with fleurons. In the churchyard on the south side are several 18th century headstones.
Inside, the church is lofty, light and spacious. Its fine proportions and the beauty of the windows can be further appreciated from the interior. Although most of the furnishings (which are themselves, quite tasteful) were inserted from 1850 onwards, the fabric is mediaeval and incorporates some very noteworthy features.
The beauty of the interior is greatly enhanced by impressive Arcades. These date from the time when the Perpendicular style, (the only style which we can claim as our very own), had reached its zenith. Both aisles are divided from the nave by sets of two Perpendicular arches, which rest upon polygonal piers, with moulded bases and embattled, fleuron studded capitals.
Similar arches divide the aisles from the transepts and a further pair of arches divide the transepts from the nave. The chancel arch matches those of the nave, but the western tower arch, which is more than a century older, is chamfered and dies into the lateral walls Above each of the nave arcades is an embattled stone Cornice, which is studded with fleurons and heads and contains angel corbels, from which rise circular pilasters. These neatly separate the clerestory windows and support the roof. The single hammerbeam roofs of the nave and chancel, which have angels and fleurons in the wall-plates, are impressive, although they are not original, but the roof of the south aisle does incorporate many mediaeval timbers The Font is octagonal and the stonework has either been renewed or re-cut. On the panels of the bowl can be seen shields, displaying the emblems of the Passion. There are fleurons in the stem panels and beneath the bowl. The Font is crowned by a 16th century wooden cover, which has a central pillar and finial, surrounded by eight crocketted supports. At the west end of the south aisle, in the vestry, is a very ancient piece of carved stone, depicting two sculptured figures. This is of great interest and is certainly the oldest feature inside the church. It dates probably from the Norman period, or maybe even earlier, but exactly who or what it depicts is a mystery to the writer. To the north of the chancel arch can be seen the upper entrance to the Rood loft stairs, which remain intact and in a good state of preservation. The lower entrance is in the south-east angle of the north chapel. Besides it can be seen the Pedestal which supported the piscina for use at mediaeval altar that stood there.
The south chapel Piscina is still in situ, beneath a fine cinquefoil headed niche with a square, fleuron studded hoodmould. In the wall to the north of the chancel arch are two carved Corbels, which may have been used for statues, or could have supported the upper parts of the former Rood screen. In the nave wall, directly opposite, is a pretty trefoil headed Image Niche. The floor of the sanctuary is a considerable height above the level of the nave floor and, during the 1850's, a crypt was discovered beneath it, which was found to contain the remains of several coffins.
The front stalls on both sides of the chancel incorporate four mediaeval Poppyhead Bench ends. These have animal armrests, which include a unicorn and a rabbit. In the south wall of the sanctuary is a splendid Piscina. Its arch has crockets and a finial. There are fleurons in the jambs, but the traceried head of the arch is now very battered. The original credence shelf is still in situ. The church possesses a few Monuments which are worthy of note. In the sanctuary floor are two matching slabs with the brasses. These are not ancient, but they commemorate the Rev Edmund Mortlock, who died in 1873 and his sister Mary Ann, who died in 1853. On the north wall of the chancel is a small, but attractive monument. In the chancel floor are two ledger slabs, both with Latin inscriptions. They commemorate John Gee (died 1729) and Edward Wilson (died 1823). The earlier ledger slab can be seen in the north chapel floor, on the north side of the altar, commemorating Wixstead Weld, who died in 1699. This chapel is now a War Memorial Chapel, and the parishioners of Moulton who lost their lives are commemorated here. The Organ, which stands on the south side of the chancel, was purchased in 1882 at a cost of £225. The tower contains a peal of five bells, all cast by Chapman and Mears, of London, between 1782-1784. The tennor bell weighs 6cwt. The Rectors of this church have been traced back as far as John de Muleton, in the early 13th century and Adam de Sancto Edmundo, who was instituted in 1232. The registers of this church date back to the year 1560.
Rectors of Moulton
The rector would be nominated or presented to the parish by the Archbishop or University College. He would normally be required to preach a specific number of times a year, in order to retain his parish. The Vicar or Curate would be appointed by the Rector and would officiate in the day to day running of the parish. Many of the Rectors were members of one of the Cambridge Colleges. There was both a Rector and a Vicar in Moulton up to 1607 and at least two Curates up to 1907. Some Vicars and Curates would have lived at `Rectory Cottage`, 23 Brookside, which was built in the 1500's. Up to 1994 there had been 61 Rectors.
Year of Rector Appointment
Saint Peters Church, Standing in an elevated position, overlooking the south east end of the village.
There has been a church on the present site since Norman times, parts of the original structure can still be seen. The Saxon church could possibly have shared the same site, although there is no record of a church in the 'Doomsday Book'.
A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival ©2000 Designed by ArtAtac