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.

What's special?

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.

Famous connections

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!


The parish of Stoke-by-Clare is committed to the safeguarding of children, young people and adults. We follow the House of Bishops guidance and policies and have our own Benefice Safeguarding Officer. The Diocese of St. Edmundsbury & Ipswich’s safeguarding pages contain vital links and information including contacts for the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor (DSA) who advise our Benefice Safeguarding Officer. If you are concerned that a child or adult has been harmed or may be at risk of harm please contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor. If you have immediate concerns about the safety of someone, please contact the police and your local authority Children or Adults Service.

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The Revd Mark Woodrow

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CO10 8NY

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