St Mary the Virgin

Wetherden, Suffolk

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Rev Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch Kt FBA FSA FRHistS

Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University, Writer and Broadcaster

Place of Worship
St Mary the Virgin
About
A welcoming church built in the fifteenth century and used by generations of villagers.
Location
Wetherden, Suffolk IP14 3LB
Denomination
Church of England
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A church crawler’s dream.

This was the Church my father served throughout my boyhood. It is a church crawler’s dream, having something from almost every period in English church history, since it stands in an oval churchyard which may be an Anglo-Saxon defended site, is mentioned in Domesday Book and has surviving fabric from at least the fourteenth century (including remnants of rich stained glass from that period). None of the richly-carpentered roofs are younger than 1500, there are medieval benches and beautiful Victorian copies of them, box pews, monuments and hatchments of a great gentry family who were resident Roman Catholics right up to 1801, and a beautifully sweet-toned organ, a War Memorial from 1922, completed through the efforts of an organist whose family played it for half a century. The churchyard was preserved from being cleared into a meaningless lawn in the 1960s, thanks to my father’s obstinacy, and so a fine ensemble of gravestones and tombs from 1675 onwards, with one medieval coffin slab, are both companions to the building and hospitable to wildlife.

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