Hundon, All Saints
This is a large, Perpendicular building, finished not long before the Reformation. No doubt it enjoyed all the ups and downs of the 17th Century religious wars, the long 18th Century sleep of the Church of England, and the vibrancy and energy of the 19th Century revival. But it is hard to tell now, because the church was completely destroyed by fire one night in February 1914, shortly before the outbreak of the Great War.
The interior successfully retains a sense of the past, and heavens be praised the windows are all full of clear glass. There is plenty of open space of course, but intriguing little details - a wheatsheaf salvaged from an 18th Century memorial, the south chancel aisle panelled with dark wood from the vicarage, surviving roof timbers forming a cross in the south aisle.
A wide, light, simple interior, then, ideally suited for modern Anglican spirituality.
(With thanks to Simon Knott - http://www.suffolkchurches.co.uk/hundon.htm)
Cavendish, St Mary the Virgin
The church is in one of the prettiest settings of any in Suffolk with half-timbered, thatched cottages clustered round it. The handsome exterior reflects the great wealth of the Middle Ages with its impressive stair turret on the 14th century tower rising above the battlements.
Light pours in through the vast east window and in the nave is a lavish 16th century gilded altarpiece of the crucifixion. The 19th and 20th century glass is high quality and there’s an elaborate tomb for Sir George Colt who died in 1570.
The priest would have had a room in the tower with a window looking on to the high altar. He had a fireplace for which a chimney can still be seen at the top of the tower.
How old is it?
A Saxon church stood on the site, then a Norman church; another church was started in the 14th century and in 1381 Sir John Cavendish built the chancel. The north aisle, nave arcade and clerestory were added in the 15th century and the Victorians had another go in 1862.
The inspirational Sue Ryder set up a charitable foundation at her mother’s house in the village that became home to people with physical and mental disabilities. She married Leonard Cheshire who founded the Cheshire Homes and the couple lived in Cavendish.
Sir John Cavendish was Chief Justice of the King’s Bench in the reign of Richard II and beheaded during the Peasants Revolt of 1381.
Poslingford, St Mary
St Mary's, Poslingford is part of a untied Parish with St Peter & St Paul in Clare.
Services take place here regularly throughout the year (see the "Services & Events" tab for details).
It currently isn't possible to keep St Mary's open all the time, but access is available by prior arrangement, and visitors are encouraged to contact the Church Warden of Clare who can arrange access when required.
Wixoe, St Leonard
St Leonard is the patron Saint of prisoners, and only a couple of Suffolk churches are dedicated to him. Despite the entirely 19th century windows, the church is clearly of Norman origins and the walls slope significantly towards each other as they approach the east. Perhaps there was once an apse. The bell-turret is a tribute to the proximity of Essex, and inside the south porch the doorway confirms your theory about the Normans.
The Victorians undertook a major restoration and the overwhelming feeling inside is of 1880s gloom. This isn't as dull as it sounds, for the church is neat and well-kept, and provides a document of, and testimony to, parish life over the last couple of centuries. The only medieval survival is the font, but there are a couple of nice 18th century memorials, including one with a splendid skull.
(With thanks to Simon Knott - http://www.suffolkchurches.co.uk/wixoe.htm)
Stoke by Clare, St John the Baptist
Set back from Tudor houses in the historic village street, this is a lovely medieval building with castellated tower, nave and aisles and the Elwes Chapel on the north side.
Rare wall painting uncovered in 1948, thought to have been a reredos for the south aisle altar but covered up by the Ten Commandments in the Reformation. It features Christ on a rainbow with God above, St Peter with his keys led by the Virgin Mary, and the Seven Deadly Sins including Gula the drunkard escorting the souls of the damned into the jaws of hell. The hairstyles are late medieval Flemish.
How old is it?
Between 1124 and 1415, the church was part of a Benedictine Monastery. The monks were responsible for Stoke College and for diverting the River Stour to its present course. This would have been the priory church with no pews in the nave. The tower up to the clock is 13th century, the rest 15th and 16th century.
Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury 1559-75, began his career here. He was the last Dean of the College of Secular Priests at Stoke by Clare before the Reformation and took charge of Elizabeth I on the death of her mother Anne Boleyn. The Pulpit is ‘traditionally known as Matthew Parker’s Pulpit, although it dates right back to the 1400s and is one of the smallest in England – only 20 inches diameter!
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