St John's Church

At present this is just a collection point for related photos and articles.

The Church is known for its remarkable tomb of Sir Robert Gardiner, a lifelike effigy appearing fully at ease...

More explanation of Sir Robert Gardener’s tomb in St John’s Church, Elmswell
Provided by Chloë Cockerill who is the former Regional Development Manager for The Churches Conservation Trust, with special interest in heraldry and fabulous beasts.

I have checked up on the arms of Sir Robert Gardener which are:-
Gules (red) a chevron between three tigers' heads erased or (gold)
Crest - a rhinoceros passant argent (silver)
(Burke's Armory 1884)

There are many different branches of the Gardener family with different arms and different crests, and so he could well have chosen a rhino to be different from all of them because arms relate to one individual, not a family.

It is always difficult knowing why someone chooses a particular animal or other charge for their arms unless there is a pun on their name (e.g. Shakespeare has a spear) or some obvious connection with their history or profession. I have checked Gardener's life and can't see any obvious connection with rhinos and their country of origin: perhaps he just liked the animal and its history and the mystery surrounding the properties of its horn. There is also the point that there were numbers of people applying for grants of arms in the late Tudor period, and as so many knights and others already had chosen lions, these new applicants often turned to the Bestiaries to find more exotic animals, e.g. the griffin.
One other explanation could lie in the symbolism of heraldry which is not agreed by all the experts, some say “load of rubbish”! However in "Symbolisms of Heraldry" 1898 by W. Cecil Wade, his entry states "The rhino is of immense size and strength and of great ferocity when roused. It never seeks combat, but in defence of itself or its fellows, will fight at all odds. It may be regarded as denoting this character in heraldry, but it is a very rare bearing. It is borne as a crest by the Colvilles, and by the Wades of Essex, and also as a supporter in the arms of Lord Mountcashell"

Hope this helps, let me know if another explanation comes to light.

Best wishes. Chloë Cockerill, 21st April 2015

Simon's Suffolk Churches - Elmswell

Article dated 1872 - 3 pages in .pdf format

Church Magazine article, 1939

List of rectors since 1250

White's 1874 directory had this to say...

THE CHURCH (St. John), consisting of nave, aisles, chancel, and a fine tower containing five bells, stands on a commanding eminence. It was thoroughly restored, and a new north aisle waa built in 1872, at an expense of about £1500, raised by subscriptions and by local efforts. The south aisle was rebuilt in 1862, at a cost of about £500, defrayed by rate and subscription. The chancel was beautified in 1864, solely at the expense of the Rev. W. H. C. Luke, the present rector. The tower was repaired by Mrs. Blakely, in memory of her first husband, Captain Long. The east window, which is of stained glass, was inserted by Mrs. Connell, an aunt of the rector's, to the memory of several deceased members of her family. In the church is a good organ, presented by the rector in 1864, and in the south aisle a carved oak screen in a tolerable state of preservation. There is a matrix of a fine floriated brass cross to a former rector in the south chantry. It contains an elegant mural monument in memory of Sir Robert Gardiner, Kt., who was Chief Justice of Ireland 18 years, and died in 1619, aged 80. The figure of Sir Robert, nearly as large as life, and well executed, is in a recumbent posture, and his son is represented as kneeling at his feet.

Kelly's 1916 directory had this to say...

The church of St. John the Divine, erected by the monks of Bury and situated on an eminence, is an edifice of local flint with stone dressings,in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel, vestry, nave, aisles, porch and an embattled western tower containing 5 bells, two of which, however, are cracked: the base and angles of the tower , which was restored in 1913, and the porch exhibit fine flint work in various devices: in the church is a monument to Sir Robert Gardiner, a benefactor to the parish: the chancel was almost entirely rebuilt in 1864: the north aisle was built in 1867, and a short time previous to this the nave was repaired and fitted with an open timber roof and oak benches: the octagonal font is of the Decorated period: the pulpit and carved litany desk, both of oak, were presented by W.Luke esq.: the wrought iron, screen, with gates separating the chancel from the nave, was erected in 1864 by the then rector as a memorial to his parents, to whom there is also a mural brass: the nave was restored in 1911; the walls were decorated in colour in 1884 and several memorial windows have been erected: the church affords about 300 sittings. In the churchyard are the remains of an ancient cross. The register dates from the year 1553.

“Pet Service” at St John’s Church, Elmswell
12th September 1982

Photographs kindly provided by Pearl ROSE (née Howlett)

Present at this service, there were apparently 69 people, 12 dogs, 6 rabbits, some hamsters and guinea pigs, as well as a few children’s ‘favourite’ toys.
As recalled by Pearl’s mother, Joy HOWLETT, those in attendance were as follows:-

Rev John & Mrs Penny PERROTT, Mr Jim & Mrs Janet BAKER, Mr & Mrs FIELD, Mr & Mrs SMITH, Mr John & Mrs Jill REED, Mr David & Mrs Linda HANDYSIDE, Mr Albert & Mrs Jean BOTWRIGHT, Mr Richard & Mrs Louise GOODING, Mr (Name?) & Mrs Carol WRIGHT, Mr & Mrs CUNNINGHAM-SNELL, Miss Kath GAIGER, Mrs Pearl STEADMAN, Mrs Mary BEDINGFIELD, Mrs HOLMES, Mrs Vera PERRY, Mr BAXTER & his Mother, Mrs Jill JACOBS, Mrs Christine JACKSON (née Kentish), Mrs RAE, Mrs ASH, Miss Christine GURR, Kathy HOWE, Janet (aka Polly) FINCH, Miss Jane CAMMELL, Joy HOWLETT, Unknown lady in green, Unknown lady in blue, and finally Mrs TAYLOR and Mrs ORFORD (in the church, preparing teas?!).

Mark & Claire PERROTT; Robert PERRY; Sarah & Nicola HOLMES; Two ASH children; Elizabeth BAKER; Holly THOMAS; Elfreda ORFORD; Nicola & Claire CUNNINGHAM-SNELL; Emma & Charlotte JACOBS; Zoe & Emma WRIGHT; Giles GOODING; Two SMITH children; Joel, Sarah & Ann HANDYSIDE; Samantha, Tracey & Paul JACKSON; Helen BAXTER; Claire & (Name?) STEADMAN; Two UPTON children; Two RAE children; and Four unknown children.

1. St John's Church .. Full size

2. St John's Church, c.1827

2. St John's Church, c.1836
- difficult to photo as it hangs on the wall in the church

3. Church, 1905
Church from Hill Court, 1905 - no trees or vegetation, obviously autumn

4. St John's Church, 1904

5. Church (same pic.)
View of church, autumn or winter; wooden fence painted white, well looked after - 1909

6. St John's Church, 1905

7. Church

8. St John's Church
Church, from across where old rectory was

9. St John's Church

10. St Johns Church
St Johns Church, Elmswell

11. Church, 1936
Church (taken in autumn, sent in 1936); wooden fences, looked much prettier then; also from RAF collection.

12. Inside St John's
Inside St John's

13. Inside St
Inside St John's - 1911; gas lights hanging in aisle

14. Church interior
Church interior

15. St John's Church

16. St John's Church

17. Church

18. Robt Gardiners Tomb
Sir Robert Gardiners Tomb, Elmswell Church.

19. Church across field
(2000) Graham Portlock, taken at foot of hill with church in the b/g, crop of rape in full bloom.

20. ChurchTower
Church Tower

21. Church

22. Church
From the north

23. Towards Woolpit
Painting by Christopher Penny, looking from Elmswell towards Woolpit.