At the sign of the Barking lion...

St Mary, Stowmarket

At the sign of the Barking lion...

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Stowmarket St Mary: click to enlarge

Once located here, on the south-eastern edge of the modern graveyard of the church that is now called St Peter and St Mary (although then, it was St Peter and St Paul, and now nearly all the gravestones have gone) this little church served the people of of the town of Stowmarket. The bigger, surviving church was, at the time of Domesday, intended to serve the wider parish, which extended to Stowupland, Gipping, Old Newton and beyond.

John Blatchly records that it was here as early as 1086, beside its larger neighbour, and still here to be entirely rebuilt in the enthusiasm of the 1470s. But less than seventy years later, and certainly by 1546, it had been demolished.

This act of destruction was probably because it was associated with the Abbey of St Osyth, in Essex; several other Suffolk monastic churches suffered similar fates, including Gedgrave and Capel St Andrew.

Today, this is a grassy square in the middle of a busy town, a fine modern library building overlooking the place where Masses were said and prayers for the dead offered in perpetuity. But to be honest, it is hard to sense any ghosts here.


Simon Knott, 1999, updated 2008

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