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.
Clare, St Peter & St Paul
Is it a great ocean liner afloat on the skyline? No, it’s one of Suffolk’s great churches with ‘a small tower for a fo’c’sle and two turrets for masts’ as author Simon Jenkins once put it. This beautiful building dominates the north end of the town, reflecting the prosperity of Clare in the Middle Ages when the main trade was cloth-making.
The exceptional height of nave and the huge aisle windows where the light streams in through the lavish arcades.
Look out for the gallery of 15th century roof faces and try out the handsome private pews, one bearing the emblems of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.
The 18th century ringers’ gotch – that’s a beer jug. Beer was once the payment for the ringers. Clare’s ring of eight is said to be the heaviest in Suffolk.
How old is it?
The present church dates back to at least 13th century but after a visit by the image-breaker William Dowsing in 1643, the heraldic glass in the east window is all that is left of the 15th century glass that once might have filled the church.
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)
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