Wednesday, 26th April 2017
Great Finborough Suffolk Village
Great Finborough Suffolk Village
St. Andrews churchSt. Andrew's is one of five churches in the United Benefice of Great Finborough with Buxhall, Harleston, Onehouse and Shelland. The Priest-in-charge is the Revd. Chris Childs who can be contacted on (01449) 736093 or The churchwarden is Lesley Cass (01449) 675970

The church is open during daylight hours and visitors are welcome. Parking is in Church Road in Great Finborough. Further details are available on the church notice board.

The normal pattern of church services during each month are held as follows:
It is important to check the service schedule below as there is variation month to month

First Sunday of month 11am Holy Communion
Second Sunday 6.30pm Evening Service
Third Sunday 11am Holy Communion
Fourth Sunday 11am Family Service

There is a short service of evening prayer every Wednesday from 5pm. Confirmation of these services, or variations of them, are posted on the notice board at the church gate. Services use the contemporary language set out in Common Worship Order One. Further details of this months services click here.

The church is available for weddings, the baptism of infants, and funeral services by application to the priest-in-charge. Special events - such as exhibitions, flower festivals and concerts - are held from time to time and advertised locally.

For information about the churchyard, click here.

Please also visit our page on 'A Church Near You'.

There has been a church on the site of St. Andrew's, Great Finborough, for centuries - here is a brief history or 'time line'.

1086 Church in Great Finborough recorded in The Domesday Book.

1314 The first recorded incumbent was John de Boteler, the Patron being Butley Abbey.

1558 Earliest record of Births, Deaths and Marriages at Great Finborough Church.

1632 Philip Parsons became vicar; he was later ejected for being loyal to King Charles I during the Civil War.

1724 Rev William Wollaston wrote The Religion of Nature Delineated.

1862 H. Davey of Globe Street, Ipswich produced an engraving of the church. This is the only known picture of the church before it was rebuilt - click here to view the image.

1875 Restoration of the church was proposed and a foundation stone was laid.

1877 Work on the tower and spire was started. A silver chalice and paten were presented to the church by RJ Pettiward.


A wall was built around the churchyard with gates costing £5.

1890 A brass embossed alms dish was presented by Rev Wm V Kitching.


An oak lectern was donated by "parishioners, school children and friends" in memory of the Squire's sisters, Misses Bussell.

1893 The east window was dedicated in memory of Captain Edward Otlley Woolaston (previous owner of the Manor).

1895 The Vicarage was given to the benefice.

1898 Old Hymn books were replaced "by the one known as the Ancient and Modern Hymn Book."

1903 Oak choir stalls and reading desk were given by RJ Pettiward.

1904 A new pulpit was erected by Mr Pettiward.

1908 Benefactor and Squire R J Pettiward died; he had been Church Warden for 64 years.


The Church was damaged by lightning - insurance claim for £10-11-4d. £64-1-4d was spent on the fabric of the church including checking the lightning conductor and repairing damage and "drain pipes have been laid from the down spouts of the church to the well outside the Church yard, to supply the pump for the heating apparatus."

1910 The six bells were given by his family in memory of Squire Pettiward.

1914 Foundation stone was laid for the new organ chamber.

1925 The Rood Screen was erected as a war memorial.

1930 The vault was closed for safety.

1950 An electric blower was installed for the organ.


Oak pews replaced the chairs (at a cost of £27 each).

1956 New altar rail and kneelers were installed.


Gales damaged the roof with an estimated cost of repair of £10,000.

A history...

As you can see, people have worshipped on the site of Finborough church for over 1000 years. St. Andrew's stands in the centre of the village, in the former grounds of Finborough Hall and it is at least the third church to stand on this site. The Domesday Book in 1086 refers to a church benefice at Fineberg in Stow Hundred with thirty acres of free land and an acre of meadow situated on the estate of Roger de Oberville. The first recorded incumbent was John de Boteler who was priest in the parish from 1314 to 1344. The 14th century church was described as a small building "consisting of nave, chancel, south porch with bell turret and one bell."

From 1654 to 1936 the manor was owned by only two families, the Wollastons and the Pettiwards. These two families had a huge influence on the church door church and the village and many fine memorials can be seen in the church today. Not many Suffolk churches escaped unchanged in Victorian times. Some had minor modifications, but in St. Andrews case what started out as necessary repairs to the church gradually expanded to become a total rebuilding. Only the south porch was retained and even that did not escape unscathed. Todays church is largely the result of this enterprise. It is unlikely that such an expensive project could have been undertaken if it were not for Squire Robert John Pettiward. His family had lived in Finborough Hall since 1794 and owned most of the village and surrounding countryside. He had the wealth required for such a large undertaking, but he also had the power to order parishioners to contribute in money or labour according to their situation.

In 1874 R M Phipson was appointed architect; his work, in the Gothic Revival style, was greatly influenced by his mentor Augustus Pugin. Other local works by Phipson include St. Mary le Tower, Ipswich and the tower of Woolpit church. The foundation stone for the rebuilding is in the north wall in what was the corner of North Chapel. it simply states "the foundations of this church were laid anew in the year of our Lord 1875."

What to see...

The church is notable for its situation on the edge of Buxhall Vale, with a lovely view from the West Door; its tower and spire at nearly 300ft, and its peal of six bells, which are frequently rung by the Suffolk Guild of Ringers and visiting bands. The church is in generally sound condition, but some remedial work is now required. The tower is a particular problem; it needs repointing over its considerable expanse at an estimated cost of over £30,000. Additional work is likely to bring the total repair bill to around £60,000 at 1999 prices and the Parochial Church Council is preparing a scheme of renovation and internal refurbishment. Full details can be obtained from the churchwardens.

St. Andrew's tower and spire is perhaps the most dramatic feature of the church forming a distinctive landmark for much of the surrounding area. The base is a conventional square tower above which is an octagonal belfry. This is topped by the elegant octagonal spire of decorative bands of red and whitish sandstone, incorporating the stars that are found on the Pettiward coat of arms. Village folklore has it that the squire added the spire to the tower so that his wife could find her way home from hunting! In fact, Lady Frances Pettiward died in 1877 and the spire was added to the tower and church spire dedicated to her memory.

The south porch is the main entrance to the church and is all that remains of the medieval structure. It has high quality flushwork panels on either side of the entrance and along the lower section of the side walls, with a chequer board pattern and ornate arches similar to the tracery in the windows. The walls of the porch were raised when the rest of the church was rebuilt in 1875 and additional decorations were added - ornate pinnacles, carved birds, animals and plants beside the door and windows. Similar carvings can be seen elsewhere around the outside of the church.

A statue of St. Andrew, recognisable by the diagonal cross that he carries, occupies the niche above the entrance. In medieval times it was usual to have a statue of the patron saint, after whom the church was named, above the entrance. Although these were often destroyed in the reformation, you will see modern replacement statues in many churches today; this statue was installed in the early 20th century. Inside the porch are the four symbols of the evangelists; the man for St. Matthew, the lion for St. Mark, the ox for St. Luke and the eagle for St. John.

St. Andrew's has six bells that were given to the church in 1910 by the Pettiward family in memory of R J Pettiward who died in 1908. He was church warden for 64 years and benefactor of both the church and village throughout his life. The octagonal font was remodelled in 1875 and matches the gothic style of the rest of the rebuilding work being carried out at the time. It is a memorial to Alan Kitching, only son of the then vicar. The memorial slabs to the Wollastons, former lords of the manor, were relaid in the floor of the tower, having been removed from the earlier church. there are also two thirteenth century grave slabs mounted against the west wall.

Through the nave, the high chancel arch leads to the east window. The arch braced roof of the nave is, unusually, more ornate than the chancel roof, with large coloured angel corbels supporting the main timbers of it. The ornate screen separating the nave from the chancel was erected in 1925 as a memorial to those killed in the first world war. The screen is surmounted by figures depicting the Crucifixion, with St. Mary to the left of the cross and St. John to the right.

The division between the chancel and the nave was a feature of the medieval church that became more pronounced after the early thirteenth century. This created a separation between the priests and the people, emphasising the mystery of the ceremonies of the church; removing this divide and making worship more accessible was one of the results of the reformation. To the right of the altar is the piscina, where traditionally the vessels used in communion were washed, and the sedilia, the double seat for the priests assisting at the Communion services. Both are covered by a gothic arch decorated with small carved faces which seem to look at the altar. The columns of the sedilia are of the same pink marble as those of the front.

To the north of the chancel screen is a small side chapel. This is dominated by monuments to the Wollastons and the Pettiwards, some of which date from the eighteenth century and were reinstalled from the older church in the 1870's. The windows throughout the church show a variety of tracery, a feature of the nineteenth century rebuild which included a range of styles of gothic architecture. The fine stained glass is one of the most striking features of the church; the studio of Clayton & Bell, from where it comes, was one of the largest Victorian producers and known for its quality of design and colour. Many of the windows were installed as memorials and a variety of subjects is depicted; the Nativity, the baptism of Christ and the Last Supper, St. Michael and St. George among others.

The church also has some fine examples of modern church embroidery, including an altar frontal and kneelers for the altar rail, which were designed, created and financed by local people to mark the Millennium.

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