At the sign of the Barking lion...

St Mary, Great Wratting

At the sign of the Barking lion...

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Great Wratting

Great Wratting Great Wratting Great Wratting

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    Great Wratting is the most southerly of the prettier villages that line the Newmarket to Haverhill road that winds down along the Cambridgeshire border. Beyond here it starts to get a bit busy and industrial, but the church here sits on a rise with the Hall and farm across the road and the village street threading eastwards. The view from the lychgate is memorable, as is the climb up to the north porch, for this is a handsome church if not a large one. Its story unfolds westwards from the Early English chancel, the 14th Century nave and tower and the final addition of the porch in the following century, suggesting that there was no great amount of money available here towards the end of the medieval period for the aisles and clerestories you find a few miles further south-east in the Stour Valley. The crispness is the result of restorations of the 1870s and 1880s, and these decades are overwhelmingly responsible for the feel of the building you step into.

The west end of the nave was screened off in the 1980s to form a fairly large meeting room. The effect of this in a church without aisles is rather imposing. Equally imposing is the screen of a century earlier beyond the benching, separating nave and chancel under a wooden chancel arch. Its elegant tracery under the solid coving of a faux-roodloft is most effective. In comparison with the nave, the chancel beyond is a richly furnished intimate space, perfect for the occasionally incense-led worship of the late 19th Century High Church tradition. There are some survivals of the earlier life of this place, but not many. The two corbel heads westward of the screen supported the medieval rood beam. The curve of the former roodloft stairs is discernable as an alcove behind the pulpit. Below this to the west is a piscina to a former altar, and, further east, the sedilia with another piscina beyond them, which both must be recut I think.

The war memorial is a twin to that across the rolling fields at Little Wratting. On the north wall of the nave is the brass plate memorial to Edward Geoffrey McLintock Crozier, who was killed by a motor car on Magdalen Bridge, Oxford in 1937. to the east, Captain Robert Drake of the Lincolnshire Regiment who, in 1914 was mortally wounded during a successful attempt made by the Regiment to capture a German battery, in the Battle of the Marne. More of these memories of the past are preserved back in the meeting room. The early 19th Century decalogue boards have lost the ninth commandment, giving the unfortunate impression that the parishioners of Great Wratting needed no longer refrain from bearing false witness. A charity board remembers James Vernon's bequest of a portion of the weather cock charity amounting to ten pounds per annum and a house for a widow. Also proudly displayed is the certificate awarded to Great Wratting when it came third equal in the 1995 Suffolk Village of the Year competition.


Simon Knott, October 2021

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looking east Great Wratting
they gave themselves killed by a motor car decalogue
lamb and flag by her parents crucified
mortally wounded during a successful attempt to capture a German battery a portion of the weather cock


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