Hundred River & Wainford Benefice
The church building watches over the A145 road from Beccles to Blythburgh with a car park opposite. It has Norman origins with a 15th century tower, and a handsome Tudor brick porch. Inside, the font bowl is 15th century on an earlier base, and there are carvings, and fragments of medieval wall paintings. The village of Shadingfield consists of some 60 dwellings, but the parish boundary with Willingham St Mary divides the main centre of population, and the number of people served by Shadingfield church almost doubles when that part of Willingham is included.
This church is gloriously situated in the park of Sotterley Hall. Except for services, it is only accessible on foot, but well worth the effort, having been a place of worship since Norman times. The building contains some fascinating monuments, including brasses (under rugs) and the splendid tomb of Sir Thomas Playters, 1658, regarded as one of the finest in Suffolk.
Sotterley Chapel is a handsome Victorian cemetery chapel, and is at present being restored. The Sotterley Chapel Preservation Trust exists to maintain and develop this building. Contact Doreen Fisher on 01502 575416.
To the east, the parish of Ellough was combined with Weston in the 1970's when All Saints church was closed for regular use. All Saints is an interesting and beautiful medieval building, restored by Butterfield in the 1880's and cared for now by the Churches Conservation Trust. It is open daily and we hold occasional services here, including the annual Eucharist on Ascension Day. During the Second World War part of Ellough became RAF Beccles, an Air Sea Rescue base, although it was, and still is, known locally as Ellough Airfield. Today, a Heliport operates on part of the old airfield, some of the land has been returned to agriculture, and the remainder is an industrial estate and business park. Consequently, it is the only one of our parishes to provide a significant amount of employment to those from outside the Benefice.
St Peter's Weston is open from 10.00am to 5.00pm most days, although it may close earlier in winter.
All Saints Ellough is usually open daily.
St Andrew's church is situated in open farmland on the northern side of Ilketshall St. Andrew, a village of widely dispersed settlement including six registered commons with ancient grazing rights which are still in use today.
The original church building appears to date from the 12th century, and the doorway is richly ornamented with Norman style chevron moulding. The present chancel was constructed in the early 14th century and the porch was added in the 15th century. The lofty tower commands extensive views over the countryside. It is circular, with narrow pointed windows and topped with an octagonal upper story.
In late 2001 a series of wall paintings were discovered, a large section of which were uncovered and conserved in 2005. The paintings are of high quality, both technically and artistically, and appear to date from the 12th century on the north wall and the 14th century on the south. Two unusual features are the Romanesque church/cathedral and the large Wheel of Fortune which combines pagan imagery with Christian symbolism.
St Margaret's is one of the smallest churches in the Benefice and serves a very small village. "Stoven" (pronounced to rhyme with "oven"), apparently means a sacred tree-stump. Structurally the church is Norman, but was given a thorough makeover in Victorian times. The church was closed for some years but has been re-opened and is gradually being restored.
The church is usually open during the day.
To the north, a splendid angel commemorates Princess Caroline Murat, great neice of Napoleon, whose second marriage was to a local squire. On the south side of the chancel is a brick memorial containing one of the very few brasses to be found outside a church. Although difficult to read, it commemorates Nicholas Garneys a High Sheriff of Suffolk who died in 1599.
Ilketshall St. Andrew
As the only community building in the village, St Peter's church is used for meetings and fund raising events. It is also the home of St Peter's Club which caters for children in Redisham and the surrounding area. Results of the childrens work is on display in the church.
The church is usually open during hours of daylight.
Weston is a village of scattered houses, with the main centre of population on its western boundary with Ringsfield, which which it shares a village hall. The village school in King's Lane, has been closed for many years, as has the Marlborough public house, both now private houses. St Peter's church is just off the A145 road, from which it is signposted. It has a handsome 15th century tower, a blocked Tudor south doorway of weathered brick and a lovely churchyard. Inside the towering "seven sacraments" font, also 15th century, was dramatically disfigured in Puritan times. The medieval benches with curious carvings, handsome arch-braced roof, and unusual James II Royal Arms are all of interest.
All Saints Church, Ringsfield, "the little thatched church in the valley" has existed since before the Domesday survey. Early records were destroyed by either fire or flood, the latter being most likely as the building is known to have flooded both in 1912 and 1993. The church took its existing form when it was extended by Sir William Butterfield in 1883. Evidence of the old and new can be seen in the timbers inside the church, the roof trusses and pew ends. In 1949 All Saints became national news when a robin made its nest in the lecturn and daily bulletins were broadcast after the Six o'clock News on the "Home Service". A full account was subsequently published in the London Illustrated News and the East Anglian Magazine, and is remebered by several robin motifs in the church. The churchyard contains two particularly striking memorials.
The Village Hall, known locally as the Abbey, (although no-one can remember why), was originally built as a Mission Hall in the 1890's. It is used increasingly by the community after the completion of a recent restoration programme.
The church is usually open during daylight hours.
After your visit why not visit the Shadingfield Fox Inn for refreshments Tel. 01502 575100
St. Peter's church is by a sharp bend on the A145 Beccles to Blythburgh road. A thirteenth century building on an ancient site, with a tower added in the fifteenth century, it stands in a beautiful churchyard full of wild flowers in spring and with many Georgian tombstones. Inside, there are many monuments to the Leman family from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The church is usually open during daylight hours
St Peter's is reputed to be the smallest church in Suffolk seating just sixty people. There has been a church on this site since the tenth century and many styles of architecture are represented including the Norman south doorway. The font is particularly beautiful with interesting stonework. A Millennium Yew is thriving near the entrance to the churchyard in an area which is not consecrated as it was once the site of the village school. Elsewhere there are a number of interesting gravestones.
The parish of Willingham has been linked with Sotterley since at least Tudor times. Willingham St Mary church stood near the present St Mary's Farm. It was closed in the time of Henry VIII, but traces of the building could still be seen in living memory. The official title of the combined parish is still "Willingham with Sotterley St Margaret", (this is what is written on marriage certificates etc.)
The church is usually open in daytime, but please note that it is only accessible on foot except for services.
Signposted from the main part of the village, from which it is quite distant, St Andrew's is hidden at the bottom of an obscure single-track lane. It is the most extraordinary and unexpected place to find a major mediaeval building. St Andrew's is a complex "double church" with features including a painted screen, "Seven Sacraments" font with original colouring, and a superb Norman doorway inside the tower. There are five bells in the tower which are rung for festivals etc.
The Girls Brigade operates in Westhall. Held in term-time only in the Village Hall. Girls Brigade is held on a Monday from 6-7pm please contact Tracey Burrows on 01502 575415 for further details.
The Church is open during daylight hours in summer and at weekends in winter.