Medieval All Saints would have been a simple hall with a Chancel at its eastern end housing the Altar separated from the nave by a screen known as the rood. It would have been dark with a simple earth floor with people either standing or kneeling for a service. Medieval England was deeply and profoundly pious with an utterly unshakable religious belief. Religious observance would have been very strictly adhered to in the belief that God’s impact on everyday life was total. Services would have been conducted in latin which few of the gathering would have understood and is believed to be the origin of the phrase “hokus pokus” (Hoc est corpus).
The group of buildings that formed medieval Thorpe Abbotts (The settlement belonging to the Abbott) would have been around the high ground that now is the site of Hall Farm, with the person who held the estate from the Abbot of St Edmundsbury living possibly on the site of the current Hall Farm.
The pious nature of the English population resulted in the building of the huge number of churches that grace our countryside today, the impact of which can been seen at All Saints. The main part of the church was extended considerably to the west which included a new north door and the insertion of the large windows we see there today. It would appear that at about the same time the roof was raised to its current height. The late medieval period, possible during the 15th Century, saw the building of the Tower, complete with a fireplace as a final addition to this small church. All of this work financed by local wealthy individuals in the sure belief that it would secure their path to heaven.
Next time I will look at how Henry VIII’s dissolution of the Monasteries impacted on All Saints.