All Saints, Darsham, Suffolk

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Feature Sets (2)


Darsham is a village in E Suffolk, 5 miles N of Saxmundham and 3 miles inland from Dunwich. It stands in rising arable land in the valley of one of the small tributaries that drain into the Minsmere river and eventually reach the sea via a sluice S of Dunwich. All Saints is a flint church comprising a nave with a S porch, a chancel and a W tower. The S walls of the nave and chancel are rendered. The nave has 12thc. lateral doorways; the N blocked with brick and the S protected by a knapped flint porch of 1887. To the E of the N doorway traces of a blocked window remain – possibly round-headed. The external angles have large quoins of rough ashlar, pointing to an early 12thc. date. The masonry of the N wall indicates that the nave was heightened, probably in the late-15thc. when the windows were added. Inside, the remains of a rood stair survive at the SE of the nave. The windows were replaced in the 15thc. The chancel is long with a pointed lancet towards the E on the N side. The E wall was rebuilt in the 19thc. with a plain pointed triplet in the Early English style. Other chancel windows date from the 14thc. to the 16thc. The tower is tall and slender and dates from the 15thc. Bequests for its construction were made between 1460 and 1505. It is of flint and septaria with diagonal buttresses and a battlemented parapet, both with flushwork decoration. The W window and bell-openings have 15thc. tracery. It was repaired in 1989-91. The two nave doorways are described below.


Before the Conquest, Alwine the priest held 30 acres of land as a manor, along with a free man who held two acres. There was half a church with 6 acres and an acre of meadow. This land was held by the king in 1086. A free man held eight acres before the Conquest, recorded under Count Alan's lands in 1086. Eadric, a free man, held 94 acres as a manor before the Conquest, with two acres of meadow. This was held by Robert Malet in 1086. Blaecmann held 30 acres as a manor before the Conquest, along with two acres of meadow, and a free man commended to Blaecmann held another 22 acres of ploughland. In 1086 these lands were held by Walter fitzRichere from Robert Malet. Another manor, of 60 acres, was held by Eadric before the Conquest and by Fulcred from Robert Malet in 1086. It included two acres of meadow. Robert Malet’s demesne in 1086 included four acres held by a free man before the Conquest. Ansketil the priest, Roger Bigod’s chaplain, held one carucate of land from Roger Bigod in 1086, that had belonged before the Conquest to seven free men. Six acres of this holding were claimed by Robert Malet.


Exterior Features


Nave N doorway

Segmental headed, blocked. Little remains of the doorway. The arch is of plain, roughly-cut voussoirs with the keystone carved with a projecting head, now broken off so that only the neck survives. The E end of the arch rests on a projecting impost; chamfered and possibly carved with horizontal fluting on the face. A wooden lintel has been inserted below the impost, extending beyond the ends of the arch at either end. The area between lintel and arch is filled with flints and other rubble in mortar. Below the lintel the opening has been filled with brick.

h. of opening (arch apex to ground) 2.82 m
h. of opening (arch apex to top of plinth course) 2.44 m
w. of opening (between imposts) 1.30 m

Nave S doorway

Round headed, of two orders. The entire doorway is badly worn and chipped and has been coated with a layer of thick whitewash.

First order: A narrow order remade in brick with plain square jambs and arch and cuboid imposts.

Second order: En-delit nook-shafts without bases carrying worn cushion capitals; the W with a three-pointed knot in relief in the recessed E shield and a worn leaf in the angle tuck; the right a plain cushion with the angle lost. Both have plain roll neckings. The imposts are chamfered with a pair of parallel grooves at the top of the chamfer. The W impost has lost its inner face and angle; the E has its profile surviving only on the inner face. The arch is of worn voussoirs, plain and square sectioned.

h. of opening 2.15 m
w. of opening 1.09 m


Pevsner describes the doorways as 'badly treated by time', and this fact makes dating difficult. The proportions of the S doorway, its capital forms and the knotwork decoration suggest an early 12thc. date, probably before 1120.


  • Anon, All Saints Church Darsham. Church Guide. Undated (post-1999).
  • H. M. Cautley, Suffolk Churches and their Treasures. London 1937, 249.
  • D. P. Mortlock, The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches: 3 East Suffolk. Cambridge 1992.
  • O, Reeve and R. Ginn, ‘An evening gone’: 1000 years of the history of the church in Darsham: a chronicle of a Suffolk church, 1999.
  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Suffolk. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. E. Radcliffe 1975, 184.
Exterior from SE.
Interior to E.
Nave and chancel, N side.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TM 421 700 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Suffolk
now: Suffolk
medieval: North Elmham (c.950-1071), Thetford (1071-94), Norwich (from 1094)
now: St Edmundsbury and Ipswich
now: All Saints
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter