[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]A quick turnaround was achieved by the promise of another dry day, so on May 20th I set out again to discover some Suffolk churches.
My target area this time was to the west, bordering the A140 main road to Norwich.
The first stop was at Stoke Ash, and this was reached after travelling along some long narrow lanes. Munro Cautley has little to say about this church, which was just as well because it was locked. It made a nice picture though.
I then ran south down the A140 until turning left towards the village of Wetheringsett.
In contrast, this was open and it is a magnificent church to visit too.
I was “spotted” going into the church and the “spotter” came in for a brief chat.
Much of social as well as church history is here and should be a must on any visiting list. It is so good that Roy Tricker has written his own commentary – available in the church.
The only difficulty was in obtaining a decent photograph, as the church is end-on to the road.
From here I crossed the A140 towards Mendlesham which also has a fine write-up in Munro Cautley, and this was open too.
This meant I had spent much of the morning already, and I had planned to visit seven churches before lunch – an ambitious task indeed! However I had been helped by the fact that at my first church, Thorndon, the car park was full of cars and I could not get a picture of just the Cortina and the church. I think the primary school teachers park in the church car park all day because these cars were still there as I made my return journey, so I will have to go again, either on a week-end or after 4pm.
This church seems to have taken on an unusual form of worship – it almost seems catholic, with many statuettes. The south porch (see picture) was blocked by vegetation – very strange! – but when I got inside I discovered that it has been turned into a tiny chapel for funerals etc.
I waded anti-clockwise through the long grass to reach the north door entrance, spotting a very fat rat along the way!
Well worth a visit and ample compensation for the fact that this was going to be the last open church of the morning.
I read up on Cotton, the next church, with much anticipation as I had heard it was a good church to visit, but to my dismay it was locked.
This was a real pity, and although instructions to find the key-holder were clear, I just haven’t got into knocking on people’s doors yet. Sometimes the directions to the key-holders address are really convoluted and seem to require detailed local knowledge just to track them down!
Perhaps I will when I have completed visiting the other 500 churches, and then go back to the closed ones!
A very narrow route took me on to Wickham Skeith with some beautiful scenery at times. They don’t want you to find it because it is a left turn up a very old track just at the entrance to a hall.
The Churchyard here is large and rather overgrown with plenty of wild meadow flowers growing at this time of year.
Although I was able to drive up to the building, there was not a good vantage point to take in both the Church and the Cortina, so you will have to look hard for the car in the following picture!
The light was reduced by the overhanging greenery, and this resulted in a nice moody picture to match my moodiness at not being able to get in for the third time this morning!
On to Thwaite, last on the list.
I had read that it had lost its tower and the OS Map confirmed this, and as I approached Thwaite I could see the church, in and out through the trees.
I turned right towards it but it didn’t reappear which puzzled me. I was now too far from the main road so I turned round and then discovered the access off to my right – a little wooden bridge into the churchyard, almost totally concealed by bushes.
This was a most romantic approach to the church, made even more delicious by the flowering bushes either side of the approach.
As you already know, the bad news was that this church was also not open, but I took my photos just the same.
When I drove off and regained the “main” road, I suddenly came across the front of the church – I had been round the back! – but as it is set well-back from the road behind bushes it was difficult to take another good picture. In the end I drove into the churchyard a little, but this is all I could manage.
So ended a frustrating morning with two wonderful exceptions.
I can only assume that the proximity to “civilisation” in the form of the A140 makes the parishioners wary of leaving their churches open – I must see if this contrast with the High Suffolk area is continued when I venture further west.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Worlingworth through Bedingfield toThorndon; then SW and a right turn along country roads to Stoke Ash.
Continue to the A140. Just past the right turn towards Thwaite, turn left off the A140 towards Wetheringsett. Turn right just before the river and on into the village.
Continue with an immediate right fork back to the A140, going south, and take the right turn towards Mendlesham.
After Mendlesham, take country lanes towards Cotton. Take the right fork, going past Dandy Corner and follow the narrow roads to Wickham Skeith. Continue after W.S. to Thwaite, and hence back to the A140 and home.