Suffolk Churches – a series of journeys in a Mk 1 Cortina by Bernard Butler – Chapter 8

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]Yet another sunny warm day, and the first of May, 2007, meant a further foray into the Suffolk countryside was in order.

I set off at about 10 o’clock on what was to turn out to be a 35 miles round trip to the south of the A1120 road.

An unusual feature of this tour was the fact that all five churches were open, although it looked for a time that I had drawn a blank at the very first one. This was Kettleburgh, and to say that it is not easy to find is an understatement!

There are clues like “Church Road”, but no sight of the church until you venture down a private lane that eventually opens out into grassed areas used as camping sites. I drove across one of these fields to get the photograph, and then found there were workmen with lorries busy on the churchyard path. Without trying the door I asked if the church was open and they said it was kept locked. I sat on a bench to read my Cautley and then one of the men came and found me to say that the church was in fact open after all!

One noticeable absence was that of the Commandment Boards – listed in Cautley and also in the church guide. You could see where they normally hang because they had been painted round (!) on the last occasion the walls were done – I hope they haven’t been stolen, and also that I am not number one suspect!

Some of the woodworking is very similar in style to that at Worlingworth, both being  from Stuart times.

After a chat with a camper about the Cortina, and a visit from some curious geese, I made my way back onto the public roads system.

Next stop was Easton church, which, if approaching from the north, is found by going westward, right round the crinkle-crankle wall, with a very pleasant footpath into the grounds.

This has some extraordinary if not unique features, including a private entrance for the owners of the mansion, and canopied and screened pews within the chancel for them too!

Some excellent brasses – look under the carpet for the two earliest (1426 and 1584) near the right-hand side of the alter rail.

This is a very pretty spot and well worth a visit.

Back onto the road past Easton Farm Park in search of Leatheringham church.

The entrance is again obscure, involving turning onto a well-rutted track, and then crossing a field before parking up and walking the last 20 yards. I should think this is well-nigh impassable in winter but the many weeks without rain meant there were only the undulations of the ruts to worry about.

I also took a picture of it from the “main” road, looking back across the fields.

This church is a sorry remainder of what was once a mighty establishment, with even a purpose-built gatehouse approach (still standing) from a now disappeared route, and a flourishing Priory. After the dissolution of the Priory the church gradually fell into neglect and was a total ruin before being restored to its present form – albeit without reconstructing the chancel. All the impressive carved memorials etc have gone apart from a few relics, but you could still imagine what this place had once been.

There is a good notice board showing a drawing of how it was at its peak.

Charsfield had the distinction of being the most “on the main road” of the five churches, and it was not possible to get a very long view, so I parked off the roadside by a field and took the picture – St. George’s flag still flying.

This brought out a couple of chaps from the house opposite who politely asked me what I was doing. Discussion turned to the forthcoming Car Show near Blytheburgh, and it turned out that one of them had a classic of his own – a brute of a car with a ridiculously large engine, so I acknowledged “No Contest!”, and went on my way to the church!

There were attractive brick features, clearly Elizabethanish by date, and the font has a wonderful image of a saint holding a church building in his left hand. I also liked the Norman slit windows in the north and south nave walls.

Back in the car I now proceeded south before taking a right turn onto a beautiful little road that runs along the top of the ridge, overlooking Charsfield and its church:

Inevitably, as I was parked up for this shot a car came along, and it just managed to squeeze past this side of the Cortina. However, this was not to prove the tightest squeeze of the day! (Edit: Notice how short the rape is and how late it is compared with the same crop nowadays, 10 years later in 2017.)

Losing myself in the beautiful countryside and sunshine a little too much, I rather neglected my usually meticulous awareness of where I was with reference to the Ordnance Survey map, and although I reached my intended final church, Monewden, without having to turn back anywhere, it turned out not to be from the direction I had planned, causing me not a little confusion at the first crossroads I reached after I had moved on from Charsfield!

I could see nowhere off the road to park, so squeezed up to the churchyard hedge in order to take the photo* and then entered the church. I had met no traffic for the last few miles and in any case a car could get by reasonably easily in my judgement.

However, I had hardly entered the church when I heard the sound of an approaching lorry – and it sounded big!  I dashed out just in time to see the lorry miss scraping down the side of the Cortina by a whisker!

Somewhat agitated by this experience, I returned to the church, did a very quick look around, bought the guide book, and legged it back to the car and away!

* Footnote:

The more alert reader will have noticed that there is no picture of Monewden church. I discovered this error when editing the series in November 2013. It seems I will have to go back there again one day – I hope the lorry doesn’t!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Out to Framlingham. Leave Framlingham on the B116, but turn right before the narrow bridge on its outskirts, signed Kettleburgh.

After Kettleburgh church continue west to the crossroads, then left (south-east) to Easton village.

After visiting the church, retrace slightly before bearing left towards and past Easton Farm Park. After a byroad joins from the left, look for the Church sign and so turn left – follow the signs and along the track to the church of Leatheringham.

Back to the road and continue west, and then left (south) to Charsfield.

After the church, continue south but take the first right turn. Eventually a T junction appears – turn right. Monewden church appears quite soon in the distance.

Return via Earl Soham and Bedfield.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8


Share this post
Enjoyed this article by Craig Ranson?
Email Craig Ranson