Within the walls of St Mary’s Church Dennington hangs a rare treasure.
Above the high altar hangs a veiled medieval pyx canopy. The pyx holds the consecrated bread of the Eucharist, reserved for communion of the sick and dying. The sacrament is reserved in the base where the curtain falls. According to Henry Munro Cautley, Diocesan architect, this is one of England’s four surviving medieval pyxes.
The pyx and canopy date from about 1500 and, being almost 5 feet tall, this slender ornamental spire with original colouring is the only pyx canopy complete enough to still be used.
In pre-Reformation times it was believed “God Himself was thought to be physically present in the consecrated bread”. In other words, those who believed in the doctrine believed that the bread had been changed into the body of Christ.
It was by changes in the law and Protestant conviction that led to the dismissal of this belief and as such, pyxes were broken up and their canopies thrown out. It is a sheer miracle that the pyx canopy still survives at St Marys today.
The pyx itself was found by Cautley in the museum wing in the 1930s, whilst the pyx canopy was being used as a doorstop until restoration in 1927 led to its re-use.
If you want to discover more about the history of Suffolk, why not visit?