The three Marys - local churches

Raydon - St Mary

This is a church, local to where I live, that I had not explored at all in the past. One of the reasons I decided to start here today was that a local man had just finished carving a font cover and I wanted to have a look. However, starting on the exterior, it becomes obvious that it has no tower which I soon discovered had collapsed in the 17th century, possibly during the great storm of September 1658, when a couple of other Suffolk steeples came down. It has been replaced by a little bell turret, but apart from this the church is all of an early 13th century piece.

Side (south) view of the church with the small bell turrett on the left (west) end with the pyramid roof. I read that the 2 foot 6 inch thick walls of the church are constructed of flint and rubble, with plaster rendering. Caen stone is used for windows, buttresses and doorways.

As you approach the east end of the church while walking the footpath toward it, you will see a large 19th century window flanked by two fine buttresses terminating in richly traceried octagonal shafts, with pinnacled and crocketted finials. These were restored in 1983 by the sculptor Bert Gale. 

South side wooden porch

The Victorian pews in the nave are made of oak, replacing the Georgian hardwood box pews in the restoration of 1883. Part of the old box pews were used to panel in the bottom of the Victorian pews.

So to the font cover crafted by a local man who has a great reputation for his working skills and has worked on places like Windsor Castle after the fire of November 1992.

In December 2023 `A Suffolk church has unveiled a painting of King Charles III’s new coat of arms, believed to be one of the first in the country to do so. The mural was revealed in a special service by Judge John Devaux at St Mary’s Church in Raydon` - according to the local news.

So, not too altered by the Victorians, as many churches are. Then onto - 

Holton St Mary

Talking of Victorians, they had quite a bit to do with this church. Like lowering the tower which apparently was in bad codition so needed work on it. Lowering it was easier than rebuilding it to its original height.

A couple of views of the exterior.

Two of the stained glass windows and then on to nearby Capel St Mary - 

Capel St Mary

The church sits above the busy road through the village, which has been cut down over the centuries to leave the church high on a bank above it. However, there is a suggestion that the uneven churchyard suggests that this may also be the result of imported earth to renew burial grounds, something often attributed to hilltop churches, but actually quite rarely found. Who knows?
To quote Simon Knott: "St Mary was high in another way, for this was one of the county's Anglo-catholic shrines. Suffolk is a notoriously Low Church county, but here is a faith community which successfully combined High Church tradition with its role as a centre of Parish life, sacred and profane."
I was therefore looking forward to taking some interesting images inside but dissappointed when I found a meeting taking place. So, a return is on the cards!

A south view from the top of the steps.

A North side view with what I assume is the Church Hall built, adjoining the North entrance of the Church. Same entrance serves Church and Hall - good idea.


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