SS PETER AND PAUL, FRESSINGFIELD, SUFFOLK
As you approach from the south, Fressingfield church looks like a wholly 15th c. building, and it is only when you take a closer look at the tower that you realise that’s about a century earlier. Go and stand by the mediaeval former parish house to its south (now the Fox and Goose) and it all makes a splendid picture. The nave roof is topped by a splendid sanctus bell turret, probably dating from around 1495, when Richard Bohun in his will left the church a new sanctus bell, weighing 100 lb.
You enter the church through a splendid flushwork-covered 15th c. south porch but before you do, have a look at the tomb of William Sancroft (d. 1693) to its right, against the wall of the south aisle. Fressingfield-born Sancroft became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1678; in 1687 he led six other bishops in refusing assent to King James II’s Declaration of Indulgence, which gave tolerance to all Christian denominations; they were briefly imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1688. The following year, Sancroft faced a different challenge when asked to take the Oath of allegiance to William and Mary, who had supplanted James. Sancroft said that having taken the Oath of Allegiance to James II, he could not do for to William III, and, as a Non-juror, retired to Fressingfield for the last three years of his life.
Much of the church interior today would have been familiar to Sancroft. It has excellent late 15th c benches, which retain several original figures at their ends. The westernmost benches retain on their back many of the emblems of the Passion. In his will of 1487, Robert Fox left a mark to the reparation of the ‘high roof of Fressingfield church when they repair it new’ and today it still floats above all, one of the best hammerbeam roofs in Suffolk, splendidly textured by time.
Map Reference: TM 262775