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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Suffolk

by Peter Kessler, 21 June 2010. Updated 13 March 2020

East Suffolk Part 2: Churches of Snape to Dunwich

St John the Baptist, Snape, Suffolk

St John the Baptist, Snape, is on the northern side of Farnham Road, with the lane to Sternfield bordering it to the east. It lies well to the north of the village it serves. The first church here was Saxon, probably of wood, which existed at the time of the Norman takeover. The present, aisleless church was built by 1240, at which time the earliest recorded incumbent, Sir William de Rurcham, was appointed. The roof was originally thatched and remained so for many centuries.

St John the Baptist, Snape, Suffolk

The west tower and porch were added in the mid-1400s. The font was plastered over by Puritans about the same time (until about 1830). The roof thatching was replaced by tiles at some point after this. Battlements were also added later to the tower. While the Victorians changed very little, the heavily buttressed east wall was collapsing by 1920, so it had to be rebuilt. In 2000 improvements were made to the balcony and vestry and a new organ was added.

Leiston Abbey, Minsmere, Suffolk

Leiston Abbey (Minsmere), stands immediately to the south of the Minsmere New Cut, not four hundred metres from the shoreline and closer to East Bridge than Leiston. This was the site of the first abbey of this name, otherwise known as Minsmere Abbey. It was built here in 1182, but in 1363 it was abandoned, probably due to its risk of being flooded on this low plain, and most of the stone was robbed to build a new abbey, 4.5 kilometres miles away, at Leiston itself.

Church of St Peter, Theberton, Suffolk

The Church of St Peter, Theberton, is at the north-east corner of Leiston Road and Church Road. With its ornate round tower and thatched roof, this flint building was erected in the 1100s, with additions in the early 1300s and in 1483 when the south aisle was added. It was substantially restored in the 1840s by Lewis Cottingham, although plenty of older traces remain. A memorial also remains to some of the dead from a German Zeppelin airship downed in 1917.

Greyfriar's Priory, Dunwich, Suffolk

The ruins of Greyfriar's Priory, Dunwich, lie between Monastery Hill and the coast, around 350 metres due south-east of St James Church (see below), although this entire section of land once belonged to the priory. The site was once the western edge of the medieval town of Dunwich which has largely fallen into the sea over several centuries. The priory was founded in the mid-1200s, gaining this site in 1290. The Dissolution saw it suppressed and soon ruined.

St James Church (Leet Hill), Dunwich, Suffolk

St James Church (Leet Hill), Dunwich, is at the south-east corner of the St James' Street and Westleton Road junction. It was built outside the western limits of Dunwich in 1832 in the grounds of the former St James Leper Hospital (see links). As designed by Robert Appleton it originally had a round tower, but a full refurbishment in the 1860s replaced that with a slim square tower and encased the body of the church in flint to give it its present appearance.

Two photos on this page kindly contributed by Louise Blake-Jeeves, with two by Sam Weller and one each by Marie McAneany and Colin Mayes, all via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group.



Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original feature for the History Files.