Suffolk Churches – a series of journeys in a Mk 1 Cortina by Bernard Butler – Chapter 1

By Craig Ranson
By Craig Ranson

Managing Director – Bridge Classic Cars

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]During our recent post on our visit to Morston Hall we mentioned meeting Bernard and his wife who had, at home, a Mk1 Ford Cortina.

Bernard told me as a part of his retirement that he travels around Suffolk and visits our churches and photographs his car with the church and writes about the experience.

We are very pleased to be able to share with you their fascinating story. All of the experiences you read of below are from Bernard Butler. Bridge Classic Cars do not claim ownership in any way.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”Suffolk Churches – a series of journeys in a Mk 1 Cortina – by Bernard Butler”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Chapter 1

This adventure, with its crazy ambition of visiting every church in Suffolk (and then on into Norfolk!) began on a sunny morning in April. Leaving home in Worlingworth soon after 9 o’clock, I set off on the first of what would hopefully become many journeys into the beautiful Suffolk countryside.

I had planned each journey to take in about five churches, gradually casting the net further and further away from base. Initially the journeys would be relatively local and therefore could be “circular”, but eventually they would have to take the format of “travel out – local exploration – travel home”.

I took the Cortina rather than a modern car as it symbolised for me the timelessness of the journeys, many of the churches having stood, little changed, for centuries.

I do not intend to write detailed accounts of the churches I visit – these can be found in many scholarly publications – but rather to keep a historical record of the journeys themselves. To achieve this I am taking digital photographs of every church visited, including the Cortina somewhere in the picture if at all possible.

The first church was Tannington, where I chatted with an “old boy” who was amazed by the car!


Then on to Dennington where it was my turn to be amazed! Please visit this gem if you can – inside is a wonderful mixture of fascinating history.


At the remote church in Brundish I met my first problem – the church was locked, although there was a notice detailing key-holders in the village. However, the south porch door is rather worse for wear and I was able to squint into the building through a hole in it, although I saw little.

Perhaps I will return one day for a proper look.


Fourth on my list was Badingham – a village I had not previously visited.

It turned out to be a church built on a steep hill. It was so difficult to level the ground at the top of the hill for the building of the church that they just got on with it. The result is a very unusual feature in that the nave rises over two feet from the west end to the east end. You really are going “up” to the altar!


Finally to Laxfield, where a couple of curious folk appeared and asked about the car.

Inside the rather plain church was a set of stepped box-pews, each marked with who they were for – “men only”, “boys only”, and “young men only”! Foolishly, instead of putting the boys at the front so their behaviour could be monitored, theirs is the rearmost one, and so it is quite understandably  covered in their graffiti!


I returned home after three hours, during which I had travelled down a number of previously unexplored byroads, giving me an even greater appreciation of the beauty and timelessness of the Suffolk countryside.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2 to follow soon…

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The reference book I am using throughout my tours is: “Suffolk Churches and their Treasures” by H. Munro Cautley – 1954 edition.

It would be inappropriate to use a Sat Nav for these journeys, so I rely on maps from the Landranger O.S. series, which are much more fun anyway![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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