The Swan Chapel

The South chancel chapel was founded in 1308 as a chantry by Robert Swan, Lord of the Manor of ‘Swan’s’ in Saxmundham. The two-light ‘Y’ traceried window is of that date; its sill is lowered and may at one time have formed sedilia (seating for the Celebrant, Deacon and Subdeacon at the Eucharist). Nearby is a cinquefoil-headed 14th century piscina, with a sexfoil (six-lobed) drain. The border of its arch is studded with flowers. In the East wall is a trefoil-headed niche (for a statue – maybe of the Blessed Virgin Mary), also work of the 1300s, with a curved ogee-shaped arch.

Beneath the Swan Chapel was the vault containing the coffins of members of the Long family of Hurts Hall, also of John Eade and his two wives.

The 1948 refurbishment (to the designs of Henry Munro Cautley) removed the 1873 north-facing benches which filled it and restored it to its rightful use as a chapel, with a beautiful altar (adorned with linenfold-pattern) and rails, made by Ernest Barnes of Ipswich, also a small aumbry in the north wall, where bread and wine from Holy Communion can be reserved to be taken to the sick and dying. It was restored as a memorial to those in the parish who died in the two world wars and whose names are engraved on the tablets at the entrance to the chapel. The Holy Table was made by craftsmen at Ipswich and dedicated by the Bishop of the Diocese on January 30th 1949. The ‘nave’ of the chapel is paved with stone brought from the bombed church of St. John, Fitzroy Square, London, a church which has since been demolished. The hanging sanctuary lamp above it was given in 1962.

Further work was done in 1994 when the chapel was glazed in. The work was done by Messrs  Carters for the PCC supported by a generous donation from the family of Adeline Aldous (nee Long) who was Patron of the church until 1992.

Memorial windows and Plaques in the Swan Chapel

East Window – Set into tastefully-patterned glass of 1872 (probably by J Powell & Sons) are nine scenes in oval panels of Flemish (Netherlandish) glass, made in the 1500s and 1600s and imported for use here. It was given by the Long family and beneath it a brass plaque records 14 members of that family buried between 1723 and 1845 in the vault beneath.

The panels show (left – right):

Top row: The Virgin and Child with John the Baptist / either the emperor Charlemagne or St Louis / St Peter, with his emblem of a key – all in 17th century Netherlandish glass from the school of painters influenced by Jan de Caumont (1577-1659) of Louvain.

Middle row: The return of the Prodigal Son (17th century) / St Mark (c.1520) / The Blessed Virgin Mary with her mother (St Anne) and her Child (c.1530).

Bottom row: Giving drink to the thirsty (one of the Seven Acts of Mercy) / ‘Winter’, from a series depicting the four seasons / Welcoming the stranger (another Act of Mercy) – all 17th century.

South-east window: Scenes of Hagar and Ishmael in the desert and of Jesus with the woman at the well of Samaria, in memory of Johanne (Jane) Harley (Lady Langdale) who died in 1872. The glass, by James Powell & Sons was designed by Harry Ellis Wooldridge, their Chief Designer (who had worked with Edward Burne-Jones).

South-west window: Also designed by Wooldridge and made by Powell, this window shows Jesus preaching his sermon on the Mount, with its opening words (the Beatitudes) inscribed in the tracery above. Listening are his disciples, a family group, and disabled people with crutches. It commemorates William Long of Hurts Hall, who died in 1875.

Further Long family memorials may be seen on the walls of the chapel, as follows:

North wall – Beeston Long (+1785), Sarah (+1780) and members of their family are commemorated on a memorial with a draped urn above and their coat of arms beneath, by William Tyler of London, whose work may be seen in Lincoln Cathedral and Westminster Abby.

South wall – Tyler created a similar memorial (again with draped urn and coat of arms) to Beeston’s brother, Charles Long (+1778) and his wife, Mary (+1770).

Further east are two brass plaques, to Eleonora Long (+1900) and to her son Arthur (+1920).

East wall  –

  1. Brass plaque to Col W Beeston Long (+1892), above niche.
  2. Brass plaque to Edmund Herbert Long (+1876), below window.
  3. Pretty trefoil-headed brass plaque, with floral designs, to Annette Long (+1886).
  4. Commemorated above, in a memorial with a flag draped over an anchor, backed by an obelisk with his coat of arms, is Lieut George Long, who in 1782, led the storming of Trimcomalee in what is now Sri Lanka and ‘fell most honourably before that important Fortress, in the moment of victory’.

The Long family originally came from Wiltshire, but their association with Saxmundham dates from the 17th century. Lord Farnborough’s great-grandfather, Samuel Long (1638-1683), was appointed secretary to the Jamaica Commissioners immediately after the conquest of that island, and on his return to England purchased Hurts Hall, Saxmundham. The family subsequently took an active part in the life of the town, were Patrons of the Living for many years and have been caring and generous towards their parish church.

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