Investigating the St Andrew’s, Hingham pews

A complete survey of the pews has been undertaken by curate Revd Sally Wallace-Jones, who helped to highlight and record their significance and fascinating subject matter. Revd Sally explains.

The pews date from the Victorian redesign of the church between 1871 and 1872. The new bench-style, carved pews were installed by William Hubbard of Dereham. Each pew end is ornamented with carvings in the Arts and Crafts style by James Forsyth. Forsyth was a significant artist of the period; he worked with Bruce Talbert and Phillip Webb, producing carvings for Richard Norman Shaw and William Nesfield.

Webb had significant influence in the English Arts and Crafts movement, working extensively with William Morris; Webb’s connection with Forsyth reinforces the significant Arts and Crafts heritage of our pews.

The pews demonstrate skilful carving which draws from the natural world, reflecting the landscape of the English countryside. Animals featured include a snail,  a snake, a frog, a lizard, a fish, sea creatures and shells, and several moths/butterflies, insects and caterpillars. The range of carved plants include bulrushes, holly, mistletoe, ivy, oak, peas, wheat, and daisies. There are also some examples of exotic, Biblical fruits, such as pomegranates. Mythical creatures, especially dragons, green men, and stylised heraldic hunting dogs are also to be found, illustrating the Arts and Crafts interest in medieval themes.

The photos and information archive of the study are available on request. Revd Sally has also created postcards and a plant and animal trail to enable visitors to make the most of these unique and beautiful carvings. We look forward to the time when visitors will be able to return safely to the church to enjoy our unique nature trail.

All photos are (C) Hingham Parish Church