GENERAL HISTORY OF THE CHURCH (This is taken from the introduction in the Church Illustrated Guide. A copy of this 36 page illustrated guide can be obtained by sending an A5 SAE to the contact address with a cheque for £2.50 made out to Claydon & Barham PCC.)
St. Mary and St Peter is the Parish Church of Claydon and Barham, about 5 miles outside Ipswich in the county of Suffolk. There has been a Church on this site for at least 900 years and, before the Church was built, man was already using this area. In the Domesday Book (1086) the Church at Barham is recorded ….” A Church and sixteen acres”.
Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of Saxon and Roman settlements in and around the Churchyard showing that the site has been in use for very nearly two thousand years. A short distance to the north of the Church an iron age kiln has been excavated. This has been dated as 800 B.C. so our ancestors have been in the area for many years. There is very little recorded history for our Church and it is therefore difficult to give exact dates for each event. The main recorded events for the Church of St Mary and St Peter are as follows.
We know that the site was in use in 800 B.C. from the kiln and, although there is no documentary evidence, it seems probable that occupation continued to the Saxon period.
On the tower there is some long and short work which, if genuine, will date back to the Saxon Church. It is recorded that some other long and short was covered by the 1865 restoration. This stonework, together with the Domesday Book entry, gives us a definite start to the beginning of the existence of a Church.
The Rectors’ list dates from 3rd February 1227 and shows a continuation of incumbents from that date to the present. Forty three of them in all.
In the Doomsday Book, and again on the rector’s list for 1227, the patron of the living for St Mary’s is recorded as the Prior and Convent of Ely and it remained so until the dissolution in 1536, when it passed to the Southwell family.
The six bells in the tower are dated 1587, 1639, 1683,1702 and two dated 2020. The bells were not rung properly after 1947 until 2021 following the restoration of the 4 existing bells and add two more with all 6 hung in a new frame installed lower down the tower.