Suffolk Churches – a series of journeys in a Mk 1 Cortina by Bernard Butler – Chapter 6

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 6

Having spent the morning fitting replacement ignition parts to the Cortina, I decided that the best idea for a test run would be to undertake the sixth of this series of journeys that same afternoon, especially as the weather forecast for the next few days was wet and windy. Thus I set off at 2.00 pm on a bright and calm afternoon towards the area north-east of Worlingworth.

After passing through Laxfield I turned left in the little village of Ubbeston Green to find the original centre of Ubbeston and its church.

On arrival I took the picture, and everything looked fine until I noticed a business plate fixed to the Priest’s door! I soon realised that this was a decommissioned redundant church. One of the employees appeared and I learned that the church had been taken out of service as long ago as the 1970s. He admired the Cortina and said that he had a 1967 Ford Mustang!

On then to Heveningham where I was lucky to be able to take my picture on a rather dangerous bend without any traffic approaching. I then parked the car in the field next to the churchyard (no picture opportunity here because of tree foliage cover –  hence the need for the road shot), and made my way towards the Church.

As I approached I could hear the organ going at full-pelt – a lovely welcome in itself, but doubly so because it also guaranteed entrance! I had been here once before, and armed with my copy of Munro Cautley I was able to pick out all the features this time.

This church is well worth a visit for the unusual manorial pew area, complete with open fireplace!

After a chat with the organist about the meaning of “jupon” (being worn by the effigy inside the church) I went on my way towards Huntingfield.

This I had also visited once before and had good memories, but unfortunately this time the tower was draped in scaffolding and associated green safety screens, so I managed to take the car picture looking through the gate entrance with much of the tower obscured by trees.

This is a church made famous in recent times by the painted ceiling, but it was much too recent (I believe it is Victorian) for Cautley even to mention it! He probably hated it, but would have loved it if it was 400 years old! There is a good story about this ceiling and the church is well worth a visit when the repairs are finished.

I had been warned that a lot of churches around here had been decommissioned, and so it was with my next one at Cookley.

The warning bells rang when I discovered that the only access to the churchyard was via the grounds of a cottage, and I was thankful that their very noisy (and hungry?) dog was contained within the dwelling!

As I feared, the Church was closed and empty, and the grounds maintained as a wildlife area. Still, it gave a nice picture for the series.

I hesitated about whether to go on to Walpole and then come back via Cratfield church because that made six churches – the most in any tour so far – and time was getting on. However I decided to do it.

I had a bit of a sudden entrance to Walpole churchyard! The church is halfway up a steep hill on the main road and I could see that it is not suitable for safe parking or even stopping. I had picked up a couple of cars in the centre of Walpole and they were right behind me as I ascended the hill, looking for the church entrance. When I saw it I committed to my left-turn and immediately found myself driving up the pathway to the church – there was no layby or gate!

This in itself was no great problem – I had successfully avoided blocking the roadway, but then I realised that there was nowhere to turn the car round – I would have to back out into fast-flowing traffic on a steep and narrow main road, blind!

I decided to visit the church first to contemplate the manoeuvre, and then noticed the dreaded orange chute barrels – this too was under repair. However, a bold notice proclaimed that the church was indeed open, so I ventured in.

Cautley has very little to say about this Church (“has suffered terrible treatment”), and so have I, but the spire affair made a pleasant change from towers.

Cratfield is situated in a very awkward position – miles from anywhere and down some pretty narrow approach roads.

Cautley waxes lyrical about its best two features – its records (which you can’t see of course), and its font. He also mentions some old items which have been removed since he wrote his book, which was rather disappointing as they included a Stuart holy table, now replaced in the late 20th century by one made from locally found scrap wood! (possibly from the Great Storm?).

This completed the tour. Four open out of a possible six is a good strike rate.

I made my way back to Worlingworth, arriving at 5.30 pm.

I have now visited 30 Suffolk churches with the Cortina.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Via Tannington Hall to Crown Corner (Brundish); then on through Brundish Street to Laxfield.

B1117 going east until left turn at Ubbeston Green to Ubbeston church.

Minor roads to Heveningham, then north to Huntingfield.

Continuing north, then east through Cookley Green to Cookley church; then continue eastward then right turn to Walpole on the B1117.

Retrace on the B1117 to Heveningham Hall then bear right towards Huntingfield; keep straight on until reaching Cratield – right turn to the church.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6


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