and Suffolk have more in common with each other
than with any other English counties, and in
terms of church history they are indivisible.
Curiously, then, Norfolk has well over a hundred
ruined churches, but Suffolk has just twelve, and
this is one of them.
an outer suburb of Bury St Edmunds, set
charmingly in rolling, wooden countryside, but
rather spoilt by the traffic which hurtles
through on a rat run from Haverhill to the A14.
The church is away from the road at the end of
the handily-named Church Lane. At first, you
might not find it, because it is hidden from view
by a modern housing estate, but if you follow the
path to the left of the road it takes you through
to a scrubby patch of wasteland punctuated by
headstones, and the ruin is beyond.
tower fell here in 1744. The church was made
safe, but eventually had to be rebuilt. A choice
was made to build the new church, St Mary, on a new
site, half a mile away, to provide a decent view
for the patron, the Marquis of Bristol, from his
house at Ickworth. Much
remains of the former church, engulfed in elder,
ivy and nettles as it now is.
you had come here ten years ago, you would have
seen the great arch above the east window, albeit
covered in ivy. Unfortunately, the ivy was
removed as part of a Community Service Project by
a team from the Manpower Services Commission in
the late 1980s, with the best of intentions, no
doubt. The following winter, frost and wind
speedily demolished the arch, and now only the
void of the window remains. The site is not quite
thoroughly domesticated, and you can't imagine
people picnicking here. There are still plenty of
gravestones standing, although I couldn't make
out the inscriptions. Beyond the church, the
fields spread out towards Ickworth.