Church History in a Nut Shell

Little is known of the Church’s early history, but it is recorded in the Doomsday Survey of 1087 under the name Waletuna, a church of six acres valued at 16pence. So it can be seen there has been a church on this site for about 900 years and possibly longer, as Christianity came to Britain in about 650AD.

THE PARISH OF WALTON was very large, comprising the whole of the area from the sea to Trimley bounds, and from the Orwell to the Deben Rivers, including Falkenham. Felixstowe was of course unknown at this time.

Before you enter the main gates look to your right and take note of the bus shelter. This was the old market cross, later changed to Walton Cage. It stood in the entrance of Cage Lane, hence the name. The cage was used as a lock up for local criminals. The large stone ball was placed on top, evidently to keep the prisoners in. The stocks and whipping post, now in Langard Fort Museum, were also used during this period, around 1750.


The present building was grafted onto the ruins of a 14th century church which can be observed as you walk around outside. The southeast wall is ancient, and a bricked up doorway which led to the Chancel can be seen. This probably dates from about 1395 and was only discovered this century by Mr S D Wall, a local historian. On the north side more of the 14th century building can be seen.

On the left of the south (main) entrance stands the ruin of the buttress of the old tower, which is thought to have been struck by lightning between 1650 and 1700. This old tower was about 20 feet square, with a tiled roof and much larger than the present one. The last of its remains were cleared away in 1811. A picture of the church in 1840 shows a very dilapidated building with no tower and no south aisle.

During the time of the Revd Charles Maunder an effort was made to rebuild the church to increase the seating. Walton was growing and through his efforts the south aisle and the west end of the nave were built between 1860 and 1868 at a cost of about £700.

The present south porch and clock tower were built in 1899 during the ministry of Revd Edward Symonds. The Parish Hall was also built under his leadership in 1901-02. The clock was put in the tower in 1899 as a memorial to Revd CH Marriot and his wife.


The Return of 1533 shows two bells. The present bell is one of the originals, having been cast about 1500 probably at Bury St Edmunds. The tubular bells were erected in 1919 as a ‘thank offering’ for the ending of the Great War and were refurbished in 2016. There is an inscription on the bell “Santo Johannes Ora Pro Nobis” or “St John pray for us”.


The font is dated 1460 and is sculptured with lions Sejant (sitting on their haunches) and angels holding shields. At the base of the dado stand four lions and at the angles is the effigy of the wild man of the desert. This extraordinary hermit appears to have been a favourite with sculptors and carvers of the 15th century as this can be found on many fonts in East Anglia e.g. Framlingham, Halesworth and Saxmundham.

In 1643 the notorious Dr Dowsing was appointed by the Earl of Manchester to demolish all superstitious pictures, ornaments, effigies and images in Suffolk churches. When he arrived at Walton the font was plastered up, covering all the figures and making his journey pointless.


Parts of the screen are still in situ to the left and right of the arch into the chancel. The screen is richly carved with perpendicular tracery and is believed to be 15th century.


At the south side of the chancel step a glass-topped case contains an early authorised version of the Bible presented in July 1691 by the desire of King James.


In the glass case near the Vicar’s Vestry door is a pewter basin bought in 1755-6 for 4/6d (23p) it was used for baptisms in the early days.


St Mary’s has two brasses, one taken from the centre aisle and is now mounted on the wall near the south (main) door. There are two figures: effigies of William Tabard and his wife Agnes, dated 1459. This brass was stolen from the church in May 1967 and returned on the first Sunday of 1968. The second is found on the right of the organ chamber, depicting a young child kneeling in prayer with the inscription “William Symond born 1601 dyed 1612”. The registers show Will Symond-gent as Churchwarden in 1614-15; probably the boy’s father.


This stood originally in the south aisle until 1897 when the present chamber was built on the north side of the chancel. The chamber was built at a cost of £300 in memory of Revd Charles Maunder, vicar 1867-1882 and his wife. There is a brass plate to Mr W H Stevenson FGCM organist for 41 years and Headmaster of the town school near the station.


Was carved by local tradesmen and the front of the high altar was carved by Dr Conford a local doctor and Lay Reader.


The east window dominates the church with its message “He is not here He is risen” and was given in memory of W Boby who was a prominent member of the church for 45 years, he came to the parish in 1820 and died in 1865.

The other windows are, starting in the south aisle: St George “I will lift up mine eyes” IMO Eleanor Rose wife of Sir Lancelot Kiggell; RNLI “Give thanks unto the Lord” IMO Herbert Collins; Proverbs 31 “She looks well to the ways” IMO Agnes & William Porter.

The north nave: The Teacher “a teacher of God’s truth” IMO A C Driver; Nativity IMO Olive Q Heathwaite; Jesus the Shepherd “The Good Shepherd” IMO Albert J Allen; Jesus the King “The Light of the World” IMO William Goldsmith, Verger for 33 years.

The south nave: Jesus and the children “Suffer the little children” IMO Marion Hunt Sunday School Superintendent.

Choir Vestry: St Cecilia IMO Willifred Walker; St George IMO Bernard Clarke.


The choir vestries were added to the church in 1949 and dedicated in 1950as a memorial for the ending of the Second World War. They replaced the old wooden vestry which had been used since 1917 when the first robed choir was formed. The north vestry was converted to a kitchen in 1996.

More recent changes include the addition of a carpark to the north of the church in 1992 under Revd John Cull and the Shepherd’s Path leading from the south (main) door to the car park was added in 2000.

The church records begin in 1559, are in good condition and are stored in the local archives.