The parish church of St Michael, Framlingham, sits on a site used for worship for more than 800 years. The church has seen many changes during that time.
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Just beyond the entry to the church is a 17th century organ, considered one of Britain’s finest. The roof of the nave is constructed of wooden beams to resemble a wooden ship. The font dates from the 14th century. On it are some unusual figures including one of a lion meant to signify the gospel writer Mark.
Near the top of the arches of the aisles are faces that once supported the original roof (taken down in 1475). The chancel is wider than the nave, an unusual feature.
The original chancel was removed in 1547 when a new one was built by the 3rd Duke of Norfolk.
The family tombs, the Howards, are located here. They once owned Framlingham castle. Look for the oldest tomb, that of the 3rd duke (Thomas Howard) and duchess. On the tomb are sculptures of the 12 apostles. The lions on the corners of the tomb were part of the family coat of arms.
On the inside of the chancel wall above the tomb is the Flodden helmet, used at the funeral of the 2nd duke of Norfolk. He was the leader of the English in the battle with Scotland at Flodden field in 1513.
Another tomb is that of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset and illegitimate son of Henry VIII, who married Thomas Howard’s daughter, Mary. On the tomb is a carved frieze telling Old Testament stories.
A coloured alabaster tomb is that of Henry Howard, son of the 3rd duke, and Earl of Surrey. His wife, Frances, is also buried here. The reason is coronet is beside him rather than on his head is because Henry VIII had him executed. On the tomb is a blue boar, the heraldic symbol of the De Veres, family of Frances.
A small tomb belongs to Elizabeth Howard, the 4th duke’s daughter. The 4th duke was executed by Elizabeth I because he was friendly with Mary, Queen of Scots. He was supposed to be buried in the tomb located in the corner where you can see the carved figures of his first two wives. Another heraldic symbol, a stag, is located at the far side.
A further tomb, on the opposite side of the chancel, is that of Sir Robert Hitcham and four angels carrying a black tablet. He bought Framlingham estate and castle in 1635. He gave the estate to Pembroke College, Cambridge as well as building almshouses in the town. The college are still the lords of the manor of Framlingham.
At the high altar is a painting, the Glory, dating from the early 18th century. It is in honour of Jesus. On the north wall is a painting dating from c1400. St Michael's has 8 bells in the 98 foot tall tower. The earliest bells date from the mid 15th century.
Framlingham Church of St Michael
On the B1119/B1120/B1116 junctions just south-east of the A1120
The church is open for morning and evening services.
Church exterior phone courtesy Stephen McKay at Geograph British Isles