The Foundation Charter for St Andrew’s dates from 1362. Sir John de Wingfield, a close associate of the Black Prince, had died the previous year and left money in his will for the replacement of the existing church with a larger building. Descendants of Sir John extended the building still further.
St Andrew’s contains three notable tombs:
Sir John de Wingfield
Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk and his wife Katherine Stafford
John de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk and his wife Elizabeth Plantagenet, sister to Edward IV and Richard III. Their son, John, Earl of Lincoln was named by Richard III as his heir.
St Andrew's Church History
Conservation work on the tomb of Michael de la Pole and his wife Katherine
The monument to Michael and Katherine de la Pole, constructed around 1410, is carved in wood which is being attacked by death watch beetle. Starting on 24 April 2023, a team from Cambridge will be disassembling the tomb to treat the infestation and preserve the tomb. To save money when making the tomb, the effigies were not made of stone but carved in wood, plastered to look like stone.
In recognition of the national importance of the monument, the Church Buildings Council has given a grant of £10,000 to enable a specialist team of conservators from Skillingtons to take the monument apart, treat it, and put it back together again over the course of three weeks, so that it can continue to be appreciated by future generations.
The church also contains the tombs of Sir John de Wingfield and of John, Duke of Suffolk and his wife Elizabeth Plantagenet, the sister of Edward IV and Richard III. The group of tombs from the same family, documenting the history of their times and changing fashions in armour and dress is a particularly rich part of our heritage. These other tombs also need conservation. If you are able to make a donation to help with carrying out this important work, it would be much appreciated.
Shortly before the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the College built a Great Barn, which is now run by Wingfield Barns as an arts and events venue.
The interior of St Andrew’s also contains a medieval church chest in poplar, the soundboard of a Tudor organ, and an 18th century shelter for a priest taking a funeral in the churchyard while it was raining.
The soundboard of the Tudor organ was used by the organ-building firm of Goetze and Gwynn to reconstruct what an English organ of the Tudor period might have sounded like. Further details of this project can be found here: https://www.rco.org.uk/library_tudor_organs.php and https://www.goetzegwynn.co.uk/organ/the-wingfield-organ/ ]
The mother of John, Duke of Suffolk was Alice Chaucer, grand-daughter of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer. She is buried in St Mary the Virgin, Ewelme, whose building has striking similarities to St Andrew’s.
In the medieval period, the Bishops of Norwich had a palace at Hoxne, only two miles from Wingfield, which would have made communication very easy between the Wingfields, de la Poles and Bishops.
The Foundation Charter for St Andrew’s also established a college of priests on the south side of the church, as accommodation for 12 priests to take services in Wingfield and the neighbouring villages. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the College became a private residence. Of the 14th century quadrangle, a singe range survives behind an 18th century façade.