Suffolk Churches – a series of journeys in a Mk 1 Cortina by Bernard Butler – Chapter 7

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 7

Hoping for no decommissioned churches today, I set off on a glorious autumn morning (November 4th, 2006) to take in four more churches in the region north-west of Halesworth.

The car was running nice and quietly after its recent service and the replacement of most of the ignition side (including, at last, the coil), and we made smooth progress to the first church at Chediston.

Munro Cautley has plenty to say about this church and there are a number of interesting aspects, not least the altar rails which look 20th century in style but are actually early 17th century!

North for a mile or two took me to the lovely church of Wissett where I was pleased to get the only parking space with a good view of the tower!

I met a lady doing the flowers and she told me that carbon-dating had recently confirmed the tower to be of 11th century construction and that it was now believed to be the oldest parish church round tower in the country. It looked glorious in the sun and was incredibly well made, standing perfectly upright and true.

The north doorway is a delight, and so easily missed without a guidebook, and there is a strange staircase to the rood screen (now gone of course) which starts with a door over seven feet off the ground!

The next church was not easy to find – or at least not if you have pre-set ideas of what you are going to see! I thought I was heading for All Saints South Elmham.

Now All Saints South Elmham is obviously a village named after the church of All Saints, but the ordnance survey map showed no church in the village. The nearest one was to the south, and marked as being in the grounds of Abbey Farm, so I guessed this must be it. I whizzed over the river before checking the map again, and then realised that the farm was just before the bridge, not after. Turning round, I could see the farm entrance and a churchyard with graves, but no church. I thought this might be another redundant church and so I gingerly entered this private property road. Now I could  see the church through the trees but there seemed to be no access to it. I drove right through the farmyard and got to the fields at the rear before giving up and turning back. Fortunately no-one asked me what I thought I was doing!

Now I could see that the churchyard was the other side of a ditch so there must be access from somewhere else. Back on the road I at last saw the frontage to the churchyard – what had made me miss it in the first place was the fact that the church is set well back behind the graveyard, which in turn is set back from the road by a plain area of grassland, as can be seen from the photo. The other surprise was that this was not All Saints Elmham (yet to be located*) – it was Rumburgh Abbey church.

Lots of unusual history here and well worth a visit.

* There is a church marked at Church Farm that is midway between All Saints South Elmham and St. Nicholas South Elmham, and as the latter does not have an entry in the guidebook I am assuming this is All Saints – to be confirmed on a later trip.

Finally I headed south again to visit the “chapel” at Chapel Farm, Linstead Parva, on the crossroad with the B1123. I had passed this church several times in the past but never stopped. The autumn tints made for a lovely picture.

This is the first church I have visited in this series without either tower or steeple, but it was fascinating to visit nonetheless. There was a moving memorial to the crew of a German plane that crashed nearby.

It felt very good to be able to gain entrance to every church in this journey, and this brought the total up to 34 churches visited.[/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.

B117 going east until Heveningham where I turned left to Linstead Parva.

Right onto the B1123 until a left turn into Chediston.

North to Wissett, and then left at the junction towards Rumburgh. Through the village to reach the Abbey church on the right.

Returning back through Rumburgh take the first right after the village – this runs down to Linstead Parva.

Finally continue south to Heveningham again, and then home via Wilby.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7


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