The 'Restoration' of Foxearth Church.

Foxearth & District Local History Society

It is curious that the rector should have been allowed such free rein with his alterations of what was once a lovely church.
He spent a fortune doing it and the result is now a national treasure, but the correspondent who recorded the celebrations was obviously uneasy with the high-church ornaments, and the Romish customs.
The villagers were infused with a robust Protestantism, and would have watched the alterations and services with some amazement. However they were consoled by the enormous generosity of the Rector and his great hospitality, as it is noted that 'from several staggering forms observed in the church and the churchyard in the evening, not only St Michael, but also Bachus had been commemorated.'
Foxearth & District Local History Society

The Bury & Norwich Post

October 10th.1863

Foxearth: Opening of the New Organ and completion of the restoration of the church.

The church is a beautiful building of the decorated and perpendicular styles of architecture, consisting of nave, north aisle, chancel, tower and south porch. Before the restoration by the indefatigable and munificent Rector, the Rev.John Foster, there were two aisles. On the north side of the chancel is Kemps Chapel, which belongs to the Hall.

The Rectory originally belonged to Gilbert de Clare, and passed from that noble family to the priory of Stoke and afterwards to the Lord of the Manor of Foxearth Hall. It afterwards became the property of the Pemberton family. In 1368 Sir William Waldegrave presented to this living, but by what right it is not known, as it does not appear that any of the manors belonged to that family.

The present Rector, at his own cost has thoroughly restored and almost rebuilt the church and enriched it with much internal ornament and decoration, all the windows being of stained glass, and good design. A new tower of flint with architectural accessories and a broach spire, 130 feet high has recently been erected by Mr.Foster, and is a conspicuous and beautiful object in the landscape, tapering elegantly upwards amid the leafy foliage which surround it to the west and south.

The internal restoration of the church has been completed for some years so it is not necessary to describe the fittings or the furniture and ornamentation as so many people have taken the opportunity to inspect them for themselves. One of the striking peculiarities is the covering of the walls with the text of the scripture, in church text characters, in black and red, with suitable capitals, finials and scrolls. The 82nd Canon has in this respect been literally and abundantly carried out, and the Ten Commandments are set up on the east end, where the people may best see them and read the same;and other sentences are written upon the walls of the tower (which is thrown into the church) are at present bare, being new.

The rood screens, pulpit, altar and reredos are also uncommon, the panels being filled with paintings. On the left of the rood screens are female saints and virgins, with different emblems, and on the right, several Eastern swarthy Bishops and Ecclesiasticals. Scriptual subjects "the last supper, "are deliniated on the altar table. St.Ambrose, with whip, occupies a conspicious place on the pulpit. All these paintings are executed in quaint medieval style. d la Chinois without regard to the perspective, with head and limbs distorted at right or acute angles. Gold leaf and varnish are extensively introduced, and the effect is to say the least striking and brilliant.

All the arrangements in the church are on the extreme High Church principle, and several novelties have recently been added. The chancel is strictly divided from the nave by a screen surmounted by a cross and closed doors. The prayer desks for the officiating clergy are inside this screen, so that they are separated entirely from the congregation. The choristers also sit in the chancel and are surpliced, being robed for the first time at the special services held last Tuesday, being the "Feast of Saint Michael and all the Angels", to commemorate the completion of the restoration of the church and the opening of the new organ.

The lectern is a bold and striking design, consisting of an architectural edifice with open porches with columns, flanked by animals, the four evangelistic symbols (an angel, lion, calf and eagle);on which rests the globe; on this stands a large eagle, with extended wings and a scroll in its mouth. The bible lies on a desk on the eagle's wings. The lectern and the pulpit are placed in the nave,

Within the last few months, the altar (for it cannot be called, as the ruberic directs, a table, )has been altered and elevated, and a super altar added, and on which stands two tall brass candlesticks and wax coloured tapers, with escutcheons in front, on one of which is a monogram, "I.H.S." and on the other the spear and nails. The altar is of carved oak with paintings, and is covered with rich tapestry hanging down at the sides, with a gilt motto on the "ante pendium". On the super altar also stood on Tuesday, two large gilt vases with flowers, and the candlesticks were also decorated with flowers, also the lectern, reredos, etc.(vases and bouquets on the altar are prohibited in the Barnabos decision). The candles were lighted for the first time in the morning at communion office on Tuesday;they were also lighted in the evening.

A surpliced chorister with much ceremony performed the lighting business. The chancel was lighted by wax tapers in a brass chandelier, and by gas jets from the beautiful standards of unique design. The other part of the church was also brilliantly lighted with gas, which had a striking effect in the churchyard, bringing out the strong relief from the walls shrouded in gloom and painted windows, with rich coloured saints and martyrs. The gas is supplied from the rectory, erected by Mr Foster, and is also in his residence, which joins the churchyard.

The last addition to the church has been a large organ built by Willis of London at a cost of 300 guineas and it is placed in the chapel end of the aisle in front of the vestry. After the modern economical fashion, it is without any case, except that required for protection to the keys, working apparatus, bellows etc.. It consists of swell and great organ, has two manuals, fine set of pedals, radiating and concave of 2© octaves and 16 stops including couplers. The following in the order;- Great organ open diapson, dulciana, stop diapson base, clarabella, principal, little harmonique.fifteenth, and corne de bassetta, Swell organ, cornopean principal, step diapson, and open ditto. Couplers etc.swell to great, swell to pedals, great to pedals, bourdon pedals. This instrument possesses great power, is very clear and brilliant in tone and is capable of producing good compositions and effects, but we thought it rather deficient in sweetness, and possessing more "reediness" and harshness than even a new instrument ought to have. Its capabilities were well brought out by the organist, Mr Willis, keeping tune with the choir.

There were two services on Tuesday, that in the morning, called by the authorities "Matins", Holy Communion, and Sermon, and in the evening, "Evensong", the former commenced at about quarter to twelve a.m. and did not terminate until about nearly three p.m., the second service commenced at about seven p.m. and lasted about two hours. The following was the musical programme.

Venite-----------         --------          --------------- Hopkins 
Psalms                               139   Corie   (145 - 141) (Blow) 
Te Deum                              Ounseley's Chart Service in D 
Jubilate                                                      Pymar  
Hymn                                                  252 All Saints 
                         Holy Communion 
Introit                                        Psalm 13 - 14  Redhead 
Kyrie                                                     Eleney in F 
Nicene Creed                                                 Merbecke 
Sanctus                                        Mendelssohn From Elijah 
Gloria in Excels                                               Helmore 
Psalms                                                          Crofts 
Cantate                                                        Ouseley 
Deus Misereatur                                               Macfarren 
Hymn                                                            Troyte 
Hymn                                                   154 Quam Dilecta 
Hymn                                                           Evensong 
The Eley confession was used, and varies from that used in most cathederals, by its change and modulation. In several sentences the Deum and Chants in the morning were not very well done, and the psalms in the evensong especially being distinctly articulated and the pauses observed.

The Hymns (ancient and modern) were sung with the best, though the last one was apparently thought, rapidly executed, but not quick enough for Mr Irvine, the curate, who acted as precentor, and hurried on the choir, beating time for them etc. On the whole however, the music was well performed, the pieces being increased and mellowed by those of some of some of the school girls, who in their neat scholastic uniforms and white tippets and aprons, sat near the organ and assisted.

In the morning, the prayers were intoned by the Rev Irvine, Curate;first lesson read by the Rev H.G.Peter of Cavendish, and the second by the Rev J.St Clare Raymond At the Communion office, the rector, principally officiated;the Gospel was read by the Rev H.V.Shortland, of Twinstead, and the Epistle by the Rev Bortland, the rural Dean, of Wickham St Pauls, the preacher was the Rev J.W.H.Molyneux of Sudbury, who took his text from Job xxxvill 7, "The morning stars sang together", and "The sons of god shouted for joy".

The sermon was an elaborate one upon the angelic hosts, the subject of the day, and occupied 55 minutes in its delivery;as is his usual custom, the Rev.gentleman preached extempore. After the sermon the "oblations"by two choristers in their surplices, who carried embroidered purses with monograms and who after the offertory marched side by side and presented the bags to the Rector, who laid them on the alms dish on the altar. At the several creeds, all the clergy and choristers turned eastwards, and after the Nicene creed the "celebrant" continued to stand with his back to the communicants. There was no pause after the prayer for the Church Militant.

Mr Borton almost immediately commenced the exhortation to the communicants, so that the general congregation did not understand it, and did not attempt to move, till the service was further advanced, and the communicants proceeded to the altar, when there was a general move to the door, occasioning some little confusion,

The congregation comprised many clergymen and gentlemen, some from a considerable distance.

After the service the Rector entertained the large party to luncheon in the school-room, where the tables were spread for the guests, the room being beautifuly decorated.

In the evening there was again a large congrgation though not overcrowded and many of the villagers again present. The prayers were again intoned by the Rev.W.H.Irvine, and the first lesson read by the Rev.W.K.Borton, and the second by the Rev.H.Fisher of Liston;the preacher being the Rev.J.G.Carey, curate of Henny, who took for his text Psalm ixxxvii 7.

The preacher first spoke of the history of the psalms, written by David, when he carried the ark to its resting place, and used afterwards at the temple services. The restoration of the church was enlarged upon in eloquent terms, and the great privileges of those who were allowed to worship within its walls, listen to its sweet bells, read the histories its storied windows told, bringing their children for spiritual regeneration to its font, receive the body and blood of the Lord at its altar, join in the praises of the priest, and as they left the sacred building could still gaze on its tapering spire, and exclaim, as they marked well its bulwarks and walked round its walls, ""all my springs are within thee". The hearers were then exhorted, not only to value their high privileges, which were denied those who were without, but to exercise and profit by them, leading lives of faith, love and holy obedience.

The offertory towards the organ in the morning amounted to 49L 14s 6d.

During the day the bells rang, and the village campanoligists deserve much credit for the improvement they have made, several changes being fairly well rang.

It is a question with us, whether it is advisable for them and other ringers in the neighbourhood to practice on Sundays--that is hardly consonant with our old fashioned Protestant ideas of quietness and repose on the day of rest. The day was generally observed as a holiday, and evidently, from several staggering forms observed in the church and the churchyard in the evening, not only St Michael, but also Bachus had been commemorated.

The Rector has certainly exercised a most munificent spirit in his extensive alterations at the church as well as at the school, but at the same time we cannot lose sight of the facts, (amid all the decorations and architectural and taste) that these things are introduced merely as objects to an end, and rapid unprotestantizing the National Church, by introducing Romanish ceremonies, symbolism and furniture.

The casket is rich and very beautiful, but the light is reflected from the Breviary and the Missal, rather than taken from the bible and books of common prayer.