Visit to St Nicholas’ Chapel, Gipping, belonging to Sir James Tyrell
After leaving the church in Stowmarket, we made our way to Gipping Chapel which is tucked away in the middle of the landscape about three miles away. The first impression is quite odd as the tower at the road end was added later (16th – early 17th century) and is somewhat incongruous, but the rest of the building is fantastic and of late Perpendicular architecture and the walls are faced with flints and stones.
Although there was a chapel here in the fourteenth century, the present chapel was built as the private chapel of the Tyrells, who were Lords of the Manor in the area. The last male member of the Gipping Tyrells died in 1891.
It was Richard III’s friend and henchman, James Tyrell, who built it and it is believed that the nave and chancel were built around 1474 -80, after Sir James married Anne Arundell. There is an inscription over one of the door arches which translates as ‘Pray for Sir Jamys Tyrell: Dame Anne his wyf’. There are many other examples of emblems, motifs, initials and coats of arms to be found on the buttresses and elsewhere around the outside of the chapel.
Inside that chapel, above the font (which is fifteenth century), is a hatchment for Edmund Tyrell (d. 1799). These diamond shaped designs were hung outside the house of a deceased person for a while and then moved inside their church. The font itself is fifteenth century and has a step for the priest.
If you look up you can see the original timbers of the fifteenth century roof. Some of the benches are also fifteenth century and some are thought to have been brought here from the Tyrell Chapel in Stowmarket church. There are various carvings on the edges of a few of the benches.
The east window contains mediaeval glass, dating from James Tyrell’s son’s time, although they consist of fragments from several windows, put together in a jumbled way. You can see, however, the boar’s head and peacock feathers from the Tyrell crest and some fragments of inscriptions.
Outside, there are numerous carvings depicting coats of arms, mottoes and emblems, including the Tyrell knot.
The Chapel has a lovely atmosphere and is beautifully kept. It is still in use for services once a month and at special times.