St Andrew, Norwich
With the surrounding streets and distractions of nearby St Andrew’s Hall, it is strangely easy to overlook St Andrew’s, despite its stature. From the outside, it is obviously a sizeable building and yet the sheer scale of its interior still took me by surprise. The earliest part of the church dates from 1467 when the west tower was first constructed, and it is the second largest medieval church in the city, St Peter Mancroft being the largest.
The church was extensively renovated in the 19th century, but the architect of these works sadly remains a mystery. As you enter the building you are greeted by the stunning Victorian font, which is richly carved with angels, shields and saints on each of its eight faces.
Other examples of 19th century craftsmanship can be found in the east, north and south chancel windows. The windows are the work of Ward & Hughes and depict the life of Christ, John the Baptist and scenes of the New Testament. Prior to his partnership with Ward, Henry Hughes was a pupil of James Henry Nixon, with whom he carried out work for the notable architect Augustus Pugin.
The north aisle is home to the Suckling chapel and a range of impressive Elizabethan and Jacobean memorials to the Suckling family. On the east wall is a memorial to Sir Robert and Lady Elizabeth Suckling which was erected by their son, Sir John, in the early 17th century. Originally a mercer, Sir Robert went on to be the sheriff and subsequent Mayor of Norwich in 1572. Their memorial is flanked by a pair of skulls, carved from alabaster, which gives them a wonderful translucent quality. The skulls each sit atop a basket containing honeysuckle, known locally as ‘suckling,’ and decomposing fruit with a worm emerging from one of the apples. In the middle, effigies of the couple kneel facing each other in prayer, as do their children seated behind. Above them, in one corner, Time holds aloft in one hand a skull upon which is balanced a golden hourglass and in the other, he holds a sickle.
Sir John commissioned his own, much larger and more impressive memorial on the death of his first wife in 1613, with whom he is buried. Sir John served five terms as an MP until 1626 during which he was knighted by James I. He is shown lying next to his wife, propped up on one elbow. The black slab on which they lie is supported at each corner by a skull, and above them, a dove emerges from a box with the word ‘Sciolta’, meaning ‘free’.
Two further memorials in the chapel are dedicated to other past Norwich Mayors, Francis Rugg and Robert Garsett. The colourful effigy of Garsett is, however, now sadly missing both of his hands.