St Michael is one of what
Arthur Mee called the Thankful Villages.
These were the parishes which lost none
of their young men to the killing fields
of the First World War. If you consider
that there are coming on for 20,000
villages in England, and all but 31 of
them lost somebody, you can see why they
might be thankful. St Michael is the only
one in Suffolk; there are only two in all
East Anglia, the other being at Ovington in Norfolk.
sits in the fields at the end of a
sharp-stoned track, where I got a
puncture in the Autumn of 1998. Coming
back ten years later, big-eyed cows
watched me moodily as I pushed my bike up
the track this time. All around the
church are commons, which tend to push
the houses away from one another, as if
they were not talking.
is pretty much all simple work of the
14th century. The graveyard is a pleasant
place to wander, and the brick buttresses
at the far end offset the east window
nicely. The sundial on the south nave
wall asks us Why Stand Gazing?
and tells us to be about your
The interior is
full of light, and the brick floors are very
pleasant. The character of the churches in the
Saints is generally Low, but here there is a fine
modern reredos depicting the East Anglian
evangelists St Felix and St Fursey flanking the
patron Saint of the parish, suggesting that in
the middle of the 20th Century at least there was
a High Church enthusiasm here.
are some lovely lions on the typically East
Anglian font. Those on the bowl look
introspective, even sorrowful, but the alert
fellows guarding the shaft are smug and obviously
proud of themselves.
|On my third bike ride around
all the Saints, in 2008, I got to this
church and the heavens opened. I was glad
of the shelter it provided: when I had
last come this way, the church had been
kept locked without a keyholder notice,
but today all the churches in this huge
benefice are open and welcoming.
sat in the gloom, listening to the rain
drum on the roof, and then suddenly the
sun came out, flooding the nave and
chancel with light. I knew outside there
must be a rainbow, but I sat for a while
longer, enjoying this beautiful, rustic
interior. Before leaving, I had a look at
the two handwritten rolls of honour on
the north wall. There is one for each of
the great conflagrations of the 20th
Century. We have already noted that this
parish lost none of its men in the First
war, and the roll for the Second notes at
the bottom All Returned Safely.
Consequently, this tiny parish is the
only one in all East Anglia without a war