Nayland, St James
The present Grade I Listed building was built c. 1400 and seats about 250 people. It is situated in the centre of the village and is in good repair.
St James is famous for being the location of John Constable’s best altar piece "Christ blesses the bread and wine" and is unique in that it is the only one of its kind still in the original location for which it was painted.
The church enjoys a refurbished organ "William Jones Organ" which is regularly played by a voluntary organist for the enhancement of our services.
There are regular weekly coffee mornings (10am to Noon, most Wednesdays). Other groups include Bell Ringers, Flower Arrangers, Cleaners, Churchyard Working Party and an small but dedicated choir.
St James is now the only worshiping community in the village. The clergy and pastoral team aims to offer spiritual support to all within our community. The Parish actively supports Christian Aid and other church charities including the Suffolk link diocese of Kagera in Tanzania.
St James' is part of the Benefice of Stoke-by-Nayland with Leavenheath and Polstead, and Nayland with Wissington; part of the Hadleigh Deanery.
Polstead, St Mary
St Marys is a delightful church dating originally from 1160 but with major alterations in the 1400’s and 1500’s.
Still retaining some Norman clerestory windows, its stone spire is the only remaining one of its kind in Suffolk.
The interior has rare Norman brick arches and much reused Roman material.
There is a 13th. century font and a 16th. century remnant of painted oak roof.
The church has glorious views and is located up a steep slope ‘road’ adjacent to the roadside bottom of The Pool with rough ground parking at top below wall.
Stoke-by-Nayland, St Mary
Dedicated to St Mary, it is one of the largest and finest churches in Suffolk, with a history stretching back to the 10th century, but refashioned in the Perpendicular style by the Howards, Dukes of Norfolk, in the late 1400s.
Its tower dominates the landscape of Dedham Vale, and can be seen for miles around. Its outstanding treasure is the 15th century carved oak doors in the south porch, unique in Suffolk, but the font is very fine, and no less a person than the artist John Constable has said that “the lofty and slender proportions of the tower arch are the crowning beauty of the whole interior.”
The brass of Sir William de Tendring (d.1408) is held to be one of the first portrait brasses, and there are two major 17th century memorials, to Lady Anne Windsor and Sir Francis Mannock.
Music at St Mary's
Our church is fortunate in having excellent acoustics which have led to its being frequently used for concerts and recordings.
It is noted for being acoustically kind to both voices and to instruments, and to soloists as well as large choirs and orchestras. Additional benefits are the lack of traffic noise and clock chimes, and, of course, the many facilities to be found in both church and village.
If you are interested in making musical use of the church, details of availability, hiring costs, parking etc., please contact one of the church wardens in the first instance.
Leavenheath, St Matthew
Dedicated to St Matthew, this warm friendly well cared for small Victorian church lying in a tree lined hollow, signed off the A134 at the northern end of the village.
It contains an unusual set of white grave crosses dating from the First World War and associated photographs.
Originally a Victorian Chapel of Ease for St Mary’s, Stoke by Nayland, St. Matthew’s, Leavenheath is now a Parish in its own right.
Parking esp. for disabled down church drive, otherwise on grass verge alongside main road.
If you've spotted any issues in the contact information, please contact the church by selecting the following link.Report an Issue
Proof of charity status
Most churches are “Excepted Charities” and are therefore not registered with the Charity Commission. You can download a PDF that includes your church name, address and church code. This PDF, which is an extract from the Church of England’s database of churches, can serve as a certificate for churches requiring proof of their charity status when registering for online and card-based giving. Click on the download button below and fill in the short form. You will then be emailed the certificate as a PDF.