Glimpse into Howards’ past

This evocative box-pewed and spacious interior of Framlingham Church facing west in the mid-1840s was drawn by Claude Nursey (1816-73), and etched by Wat Hagreen of Ipswich.

Perry Nursey was better known and a more gifted artist, but his son Claude taught art in Leeds, Bradford and Belfast before succeeding the well-known Frederick Sandys at the Norwich School of Design.

An earlier article featured two other Suffolk interiors by Claude Nursey: the entrance hall of Christchurch, Ipswich and the saloon at Hintlesham Hall; such early records, pre-photography, are always revealing.

Nursey was not good at drawing figures, so that the woman sweeping the aisle has left her cloak and clogs in the chancel foreground and almost disappeared down the aisle. When she returns it will be to fish for high cobwebs with the long-handled brush.

The furnishings shown include the Royal Arms of Charles II hanging over the tower arch and the organ, a chandelier hanging from a decorative iron bracket and oil lamps, and a comfortable cushion and curtain dressing the pulpit.

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The Thamar organ remains the most celebrated instrument in the county, for it was made for Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, in 1674 and presented to Framlingham by the master and fellows, patrons of the living, in 1708.

Two far older artefacts may be glimpsed, a tattered banner in the roof and a small screen forming the back of the organist’s bench, fragment of the Thamar organ’s predecessor, a very early 16th Century organ. The front of that organ included with the Royal Arms of Tudor Henrys and the arms of Howard impaling Tilney.

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Both the banner and the organ fragment came to Framlingham through Thomas Howard, born at Tendryng Hall, Stoke by Nayland, in 1443.

His father John was briefly the first Howard duke of Norfolk, but fell on the Yorkist side at Bosworth, and to add insult to injury, he was attainted, that is, his title was abolished and his lands were forfeit to the Crown.

Thomas served the Yorkist Edward IV and fought bravely for Richard III at Bosworth. After the battle, his king and his father both dead, he wisely declared his allegiance to whoever wore the crown.

He was kept in the Tower for the first three years of Henry VII’s reign, but reaffirmed his allegiance to gain a pardon and his freedom.

Thomas Howard was twice married to members of the Tilney family, first Agnes who died in 1497 and then Elizabeth who outlived him.

The early organ is thought to have been installed in Thetford Priory church as a tribute to the memory of Thomas Howard’s first wife Agnes.

At the Dissolution it came to Framlingham with much else from Thetford, probably including the banner carried before Thomas when in 1513 he conquered the Scottish armies at Flodden Field and James IV was killed.

For this victory Henry VIII restored to him his father’s dukedom of Norfolk, and granted the Howards in perpetuity the Flodden ornament: the arms of Scotland added to the silver bend which is top left in their quartered arms.

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