BEESTON next MILEHAM
St Mary’s Church
St Mary’s church at Beeston is a marvellous place to start visiting churches. Its banded spire glows uniquely across the fields; outside in the churchyard is a memorial to Beeston’s boxing hero, Jem Mace, while the interior of the church is lofty and luminous from the rose window. Its crowning beauty is surely the screen, a delicate tracery in perpendicular style, defaced by iconoclasts in the past but with some of the colour still remaining.
We owe the screen almost certainly to John FITZALAN, earl of ARUNDEL, thought to be the patron of the screen. He married the Lady Maltravers, probably lived in Mileham Castle, and died in 1434. There is an effigy of him in the Arundel Fitzalan Chapel, showing him wearing armour with a surcoat quartering Fitzalan and Maltravers. Here, on the rood screen to the left of the doorway, are those arms, coloured. These arms are not mentioned by Blomefield or by Farrer; this was an exciting find, dating back to the fifteenth century. ARUNDEL: Quarterly, 1 and 4, Gules a Lion rampant Or – FITZALAN, and
To the right of the doorway there is a ploughshare, with the outlines of a capital “B” to its left, and a barrel or “tun” to its right, making a rebus of Beeston. The ploughshares refer to the price (one ploughshare, or 2 shillings (10p)) paid for taking up or surrendering their strips of arable land held as tenants of the lord of the manor; the price was paid for by work. The plough was shared commonly by all in the manor.
On the east wall, to either side of the window, there are very faded paintings – the left-hand one could reasonably be Cambridge, Gules a Cross Ermine between four Lions passant guardant Or and on the Cross a closed Book fessways Gules clasped and garnished Gold the clasp downwards – UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE.
The right is very indistinct, and is possibly for John Forby, a member of Caius College, Cambridge, who was rector here from 1595 to 1614: Argent on a Chevron between two cotises dancetty Sable three Escallops Or – GONVILLE, impaling Or semy of Flowers gentle in the middle of the chief a Sengrene resting upon the heads of two Serpents in pale their Tails knit together, all in proper colour, resting upon a square marble Stone Vert, between their Breasts a Book Sable garnished Gules Buckles Or all within a bordure compony Argent and Sable – CAIUS.
The frame painted above the chancel arch was painted by William Roose in Forby’s time, to enclose the Royal Arms of James I, now gone.
Over the south door are the ROYAL ARMS from 1714-1801 before the union with Ireland. It has no date or initials and is very faded: Quarterly: 1, Gules three Lions passant guardant Or – ENGLAND, impaling Or a Lion rampant within a double Tressure flory counterflory Gules – SCOTLAND; 2, Azure three Fleur-de-lis Or – FRANCE MODERN; 3, Azure a Harp Or stringed Argent – IRELAND; 4, Tierced in pairle reversed i, Gules two Lions passant guardant in pale Or (Brunswick); ii, Or semé of hearts Gules a Lion rampant Azure (Luneburg); iii, Gules a Horse courant Argent (Westphalia) for HANOVER. Overall on an inescutcheon Gules is the golden Crown of Charlemagne. The shield is encircled with the Garter. The crest is a Lion statant crowned Or, and the supporters are a Lion for England, and a Unicorn for Scotland. The motto is DIEU ET MON DROIT.
A tablet on the south wall is for George Patterson, late of King’s Lynn. died 20.7.1790, aged 85; and also Mary, his wife, who died 28.3.1789, aged 79: Argent three Pelicans in their piety all Proper – PATTERSON.
- Posted in: BRISLEY AND ELMHAM DEANERY