St Mary’s, Dallinghoo
It was the week of my solo cello concert in London, and having anticipated both being in a panic about it, and needing some quiet time after a non-stop 10 days of B&B and 2 concerts, I had booked myself 3 nights in Orford to visit churches and practise the cello. While looking at my map to decide which churches to stop at on the way, I remembered a recent conversation in which Dallinghoo was mentioned. The ‘Hoo’ villages fascinate me simply because of their amusing names, and so no more consideration was needed: I located it on the map and found it conveniently near my route.
As I entered the church I savoured the blissfully warm – instead of cold – old church smell. That comforting smell alone was enough for me to feel instantly calm: I was stepping into another world after a busy week. Despite having a mountain to climb as far as music learning was concerned, I felt as though I was on holiday.
Whilst practising, I heard a noise that at first I thought was a strimmer somewhere outside the church. I listened harder and concluded it was in fact coming from inside the church. Then I changed my mind again, until finally I got up and walked around the church to settle the matter. I found a queen hornet flying up near the roof. She was gigantic: she moved more like a helicopter than an insect.
Afterwards I inspected the interesting woodwork, which I thought most likely Jacobean, and enjoyed the little model and sketches of the church at the back of the nave. I also saw what looked like the faint remains of a rood canopy, (see header photo) but the only colour left was black.The unique characteristic of Dallinghoo church was one which, to my shame, I didn’t notice: its tower is at the east end of the church. The explanation given for this is that it used to be a cruciform church but lost its ‘arms’.1
I hoped there might be an opportunity to put the hornet outside before I left, but she never came down low enough. It made me sad to leave her there, but there was nothing I could do. As I was leaving I noticed a sign beside the door: ‘The vicar and churchwardens hope you find peace and contentment here’. I certainly did.
St Peter’s and St Paul’s, Pettistree
I found Pettistree church in a pretty location behind the village pub. It felt large compared to Dallinghoo, and more rustic: the floor was made of brick and the lower walls were bare stone. Damp rises from the ground and so removing the lower parts of the render allows the walls to breathe as well as eliminating the cost and effort of trying to keep the render in decent condition. But it also looks good, and it is satisfying when aesthetics and practicality work together.
My arm tendons and back were achy. I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was lie down. Actually I was amazed I’d managed even one church visit before exhaustion set in. My cello seemed to feel the same as it had developed a buzz – the possible locations for it to come unstuck seem endless – and its wolf note2 was particularly bad today. It was a pity because Pettistree was exactly the sort of church in which I would ordinarily like to spend hours, and would find it difficult to tear myself away. But on this occasion I could do no more than make myself persevere for a little while – I felt I needed to make a little more progress with practice – before judging it sensible to leave it for the day and get some rest.
I managed to summon enough energy to look around before leaving. A display indicated that three of the church bells were made in the 15th century. I found fragments of medieval glass in a south nave window, a (probable) Elizabethan chest and various interesting memorials, including a brass dated 1580 mounted on the wall. A floor memorial, for a mother and her infant son, looked unfinished.
I got in my car with great relief and made my way to Orford, where a bright room and a comfortable bed awaited me. It was too enticing, and I decided to take a short nap before supper. I was good for nothing else.
Header photo: Dallinghoo roof detail
2. A note, on my cello specifically F on the G string, where the note does not speak properly and at the same time produces an unpleasant vibration. This is apparently due to the note pitch matching the natural reverberation of the instrument. To me it produces a similar aural irritation to the regular thumping noise which sometimes occurs when one back window of a car is opened when travelling at high speed.