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More Suffolk and Essex ramblings…

July 26, 2012

The sun has shone and the lanes and roads of East Anglia have beckoned. This journey has become something of a pilgrimage as I have sought out some lovely, holy, places.

St. Mary the Virgin, Cavendish

St. Mary the Virgin, Cavendish

Just in Suffolk, but right on the border, lies the lovely little village of Cavendish. St. Mary’s church is right at it’s heart, and what a gem it is. The signs tell passers by that this church is open every day. Inside they sell guide books, postcards, prayer cards and other cards as well. There are some booklets to take away about the Christian faith.

Some 29 people had signed the visitors book in the last month. There are some interesting things to see in this church. There is a memorial to Leonard Cheshire and Sue Ryder, along with some press cuttings all about their remarkable lives. There is also a folder of photos about a recent flower festival – which looked to be very good. There is a prayer desk here for the pilgrim and the Bible is left open.

Children’s pew at Cavendish

For children, there is a children’s pew, even better it is at the front of the church not tucked away in a dark corner. There is a leaflet about the ‘Angels and Pinnacles’ trail as well.

A very interesting church to visit and I would rate this as very good.

St. Peter and St. Paul, Clare

Another beautiful corner of Suffolk. This time a small town. I was fortunate enough to arrive just in time to take part in their weekly mid week eucharist. A simple, said service which was much appreciated. A friendly bunch too.

A welcome for children at Clare

But, to the church. This is also open every day and the signs outside say as much too. Inside this wonderful church there is a little shop which sells various items, including a nice range of prayer cards. Children are catered for too with a children’s areas set up ready to go and a nice children’s leaflet about the church – all too rare.

St. Pater & St. Paul, Clare

There is a prayer chapel where pilgrims can pray before the Reserved Sacrament. The church community is brought to life also with displays about a children’s Pentecost event as well as recent church history. Lots of pictures of people having fun.

There is a votive stand to use and a prayer board – some of these were prayed for during our service.

This church is doing a very good job to welcome the visitor and I would rate it as very good. Recommended.

St. Nicholas, Castle Hedingham

St. Nicholas, Castle Hedingham

Back into Essex having negotiated a recently re laid road. At least Essex County Council are repairing their roads, even though it is a bit tricky for bikers.

St. Nicholas is tucked away. It features an unusual brick built tower. The church is open. Inside you can buy a guide book and there are post cards of bible verses which visitors are encouraged to take away to remind them of their visit. A nice idea. 12 people had signed the visitors book in the last month. I am sure that many more have been here but this is the only indication that we have of numbers. There are also pictures of church people here to remind visitors that this is not just a pretty building.

There is a prayer board to use. I would rate this church as OK from a visitor point of view.

St. Mary Magdalen, Wetherfield

St. Mary Magdalen, Wetherfield

I hadn’t got this on my list to visit but, going through the village I noticed that this church looked to be open so I stopped. I’m glad I did. It is a smashing little church with some good features. The sign outside just gave basic information. Inside, there are cards for sale and ‘Inspire’ magazine which is a Christian slant on the Olympic games and so topical. There is a children’s area with colouring.

What really caught my eye here was this –

Prayers at Wetherfield

A side altar is used as a prayer area for visitors. There are votive lights to use and some books of prayers for guidance. All very well done. There is also a toilet here open for visitors.

All in all, I would rate this as good. Well worth a visit.

St. John the Baptist, Finchingfield

A real gem of an Essex village – impossibly beautiful. As I was parking my bike near the village green a man rode past on another BMW. He turned around and stopped near me and proceeded to tell me that this must be the only place in England where there is a sign prohibiting motorcycles from parking on part of the green. He thought that people should complain about it. He then rode off. I did look but couldn’t see the sign so cannot verify whether this is true or not. You do meet some interesting people on a bike.


Anyway, back to the church. St. John the Baptist is open for the visitor. Inside you can find guide books, Christian bookmarks, cards and some postcards. There is also a very nice children’s guide which is well illustrated – one of the best I have seen. 25 people had signed the book in the last month.

There is a votive stand to use and a prayer book which has loads of entries in it. The church is protected by CCTV.

I would rate this as good.

St. Mary the Virgin, Radwinter

This was unfortunately locked with no indication of when it might be open. There is a sign kept behind the church wall which says ‘church open’ so it must be sometimes. Checking the Radwinter website I read ‘The Church is open on the first Saturday of each month 10:00 am until 1:00 pm. Come in for a look around, coffee, biscuits, cakes for sale.’ This is fine but a simple sign on the church would be useful for the visitor. This does look well worth a visit but I do have to rate it as very poor from a visitor point of view.


St. Mary the Virgin,Saffron Walden

A wonderful town, full of old world charm. St. Mary’s was busy as they were hosting a lunchtime recital. There are sandwiches and drinks available for these free concerts (donations invited). Today’s was by Diana Hoy – Contralto and Wendy Watts on the piano. They were very good but it did make wandering around the church a bit difficult.

Recital at Saffron Walden

There is a prayer tree here, a prayer board and a chapel for private prayer as well as a votive stand. All these seemed to be well used. There is also a good range of locally produced leaflets – a free walk around guide,

Children welcome at St Mary’s (there is a large children’s areas set up at the back)

Getting married at St Mary’s

Death and bereavement

Healing ministry at St Mary’s

Lord, teach us to pray

All very well done. There is also a decent Christina lending library with a good selection of up to date books.

A very good church by my rating.

St. John The Baptist, Thaxted

Oh, Thaxted, long a favourite of mine because of it’s former vicar, Conrad Noel. This is a definite place of pilgrimage for me and I relish walking into this lovely, lovely church.

There is much to commend this place from a visitors point of view. There are lots of leaflets and booklets available inside and even copies of the ‘Thaxted Mass’. There are lots of prayer cards and local interest cards as well.

Side chapel at Thaxted

There is a children’s area, a votive stand – this is definitely a place to light candles and prayer requests. The signs welcome the visitor.

This is a very special place indeed and I would rate it as very good.

Bust of Conrad Noel in Thaxted church

St. Mary’s, Great Bardfield

This church is open for visitors, and the signs welcome you in.

Great Bardfield

Here you can purchase mugs, featuring the church, as well as cards and guide books. There is a votive stand to use and a prayer board. The visitors book, very surprisingly, showed only 2 visitors in the last month. That can’t be right!

There is a good display of children’s work.

Great Bardfield

I would give this a rating of good.

St. Mary’s, Little Easton

Tucked down a little lane next to Little Easton Gardens sits St. Mary’s church. Outside is a simple board which says ‘Church always open’. That says it all really.

St. Mary’s. Little Easton

There is lots to like about this church. There are good wall paintings and some excellent modern stained glass. One is a memorial to the US 386th Bomb group who were stationed near by during WW2.

Modern stained glass at Little Easton

You can even do brass rubbing here, which I have not seen in a long time. For the visitor there is a very good guide and some good local history. There are prayer cards to purchase as well. There is a toilet here as well. This is a really interesting church and it is surprising that there are only 9 visitors recorded in the book for the last month.

I would rate this church as good.



St. Mary the Virgin, Little Dunmow

St. Mary the Virgin, Little Dunmow

Firmly locked with, again, no indication of when it might be open. However, there was a nice swarm of bees on the end wall of the church which is good to see.

On checking the website – teher si no mention of opening which is a shame. People often like to visit churches outside of service times!

I would have to rate this as very poor


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