St John the Baptist, Badingham, Suffolk

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Feature Sets (3)


Badingham is a village in E Suffolk, 3 miles N of Framlingham and 6 miles NW of Saxmundham. A stream runs from N to S through the village, joining the river Alde at the southern end of the High Street, and the lie of the land is determined by these two valleys. Immediately to the S is a Roman road, now the A1120. The church is towards the northern end on the village and stands on steeply rising land on the E bank of the stream. The ground rises from W to E here, and has not been terraced for the building of the church, so that the nave slopes markedly up towards the E, and the chancel is reached by three steps. The church consists of a nave with S porch, a chancel with a modern S vestry and a W tower. The lower storey of the flint and septaria tower is 12thc., with long and short quoins, no buttresses, simple lancets to the S and W and a tower arch with roll-moulded jambs but a remodelled, pointed arch. The upper storey has Y-tracery bell-openings ofc.1300 and an embattled parapet. The nave has the remains of 12thc. shafting at the western angles, but there are no bases or capitals and the shafts are not recorded here. It thus belongs to the 12thc., but has been considerably altered. The walls are of flint in their lower parts but have been raised considerably with brick. The N doorway is blocked and the S, ofc.1300, is protected by a knapped flint porch of 1486, lavishly decorated with flushwork and provided with a battlemented parapet and a niche for a statue. The nave windows include a 13thc. lancet on the N side and another on the S, along with 15thc. windows at the normal height. When the walls were raised, windows were added to light the rood at the E. These were bequeathed by Edward Rous in 1506. A high window was installed at the W end of the N wall in the 18thc., to light a choir gallery (now gone). The chancel is of knapped flint with 14thc. flowing lateral windows and a 15thc. E window. A priest's doorway is set in the S wall, and on the N side are two large tombs; one of a member of the Carbonell family, perhaps Sir John (d.1423), and the other of William Cotton (d.1616) and his wife Lucie (d.1621). The chancel was rebuilt by E. L.Blackburne (1879-80), and at the same time new roofs were added and the church was re-seated. Repairs were carried out under the supervision of J. R. Sullivan in 1976-77. In addition to the remains of Romanesque fabric described above the church also houses two carved voussoirs set in the porch and a loose scallop capital and chevron voussoir.


Eadric held Badingham before the Conquest, with nine carucates of ploughland, 20 acres of meadow and woodland for 100 pigs. There was a church there with 60 acres of land an an acre of meadow. In 1086 the manor was held by Robert Malet, generally in demesne, but Walter held 100 acres from him, Leornic 40 acres and Robert 40 acres. In addition there were 30 acres of demesne land of Badingham held by Robert from Robert Malet in Cransford. Land at Badingham and elsewhere was given by Sir Roger Boys and others to Campsea Ash priory of Austin nuns by 1390.

Upper Alde benefice, i.e. Badingham, Bruisyard, Cransford, Dennington, Rendham and Sweffling.


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

Tower arch

Of single order, pointed. The arch itself has been remodelled with a pointed, chamfered head. The jambs have angle rolls on the E face only, without capitals or bases.

Interior Decoration


Voussoir with hair-puller or exhibitionist

Re-set in the E wall of the S porch is another clunch voussoir with a fat angle roll at the intrados and a raised fillet at the extrados, this one carved with a human figure that can be read either as a hair-puller or an exhibitionist. The head is square-jawed and simply carved with unarticulated hair parted centrally. The eyes are bulbous and almond-shaped, the nose broad and straight and the mouth small and downturned at the ends. The neck is indicated below the chin and from each side of it rise two arms to either side of the head, grasping the hair with fists of four straight fingers. The problems with this interpretation are first that the hands do not articulate well with the arms, and second that the shoulders do not articulate properly with the body. The alternative is that the body has been omitted almost entirely, the arms are in fact legs, parted to display the genitals, and the hands are gripping the legs to hold them apart and belong to arms that are not shown. If this is the correct interpretation, the figure is either female or mutilated. Neither interpretation is entirely satisfactory and the ambiguity might be intentional.

radial h. 0.22 m
w. at extrados 0.20 m
w. at intrados 0.175 m

Voussoir with rabbit

Re-set inside the S porch on the W wall is a clunch voussoir with a fat angle roll at the intrados and a raised fillet at the extrados, carved with the head of a rabbit in bold relief. The head is a broad oval and the long, pointed ears, fluted along the central axis, rest their tips on the outer fillet. The eyes are round and bulbous and the snout is carefully carved, with a vertical cleft and a horizontal one for the mouth, the two upper lobes being drilled to represent nostrils and ridges carved to either side for whiskers.

radial h. 0.22 m
w. at extrados 0.21 m
w. at intrados 0.18 m

Loose Sculpture

Chevron voussoir

Now on the window sill in the S porch, a clunch voussoir carved with lateral centrifugal face chevron consisting of two rolls with a quirk towards the extrados and a cogwheel inner edge.


max. thickness of block 0.16 m
radial h. 0.17 m
w. at extrados 0.16 m
w. at intrados 0.13 m

Double scallop nook-shaft capital.

Now on the window sill in the S porch, an engaged nook-shaft capital of clunch, probably from a doorway, carved on two faces with two plain scallops per face and an angle tuck. The necking is plain and chamfered.


h. of block 0.14 m
max. d. of block 0.13 m
max. w. of block 0.25 m


Comments on the re-set voussoirs appear in section IV. 5. c. The only precise parallel for the specific sequence of rolls and quirks seen on the loose chevron voussoir so far noted in the county is on the doorway, also of clunch, at St Mary's, Walpole 5 miles NE of Badingham.


  • Victoria County History: Suffolk II (1975), 112-15.
  • Anon., St John the Baptist Church, Badingham. Undated church guide.
  • H. M. Cautley, Suffolk Churches and their Treasures. London 1937, 220.
  • D. P. Mortlock, The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches: 3 E Suffolk. Cambridge 1992.
  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Suffolk. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. E. Radcliffe 1975, 80-81.
Exterior from SW.
Exterior from N.
Interior to E.
Interior to W.
Tower from SW.
Tower, S lancet.
Tower, W lancet.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TM 306 684 
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
medieval: not confirmed
now: St John the Baptist
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter