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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Suffolk

by Peter Kessler, 13 March 2020

East Suffolk Part 3: Churches of Dunwich, Southwold & South Cove

Chapel of St James' Leper Hospital, Dunwich, Suffolk

The Chapel of St James' Leper Hospital, Dunwich, is located at the south-eastern corner of St James Church (see links). It was founded in the 1100s, just outside the western edge of the now lost town of Dunwich. A chapel stood on its eastern side, and its roofless east end is now all that survives of both hospital and chapel. Mentioned around 1205 in a royal charter, charges of embezzlement had to be investigated in 1252. It continued as a charity after the Dissolution.

Southwold Wesleyan Methodist Church, Southwold, Suffolk

Southwold Wesleyan Methodist Church is on the northern side of Cumberland Road, overlooking St James' Terrace. An Independent congregation broke away from St Edmund's Church in 1682 to meet initially in a malt house, probably at Reydon Corner. By 1772 they were meeting in the Dissenter's Meeting House on Lorne Road while a Methodist chapel opened in Mill Lane in 1799. By 1835 that small chapel was being sold so that this present one could be built and opened.

Church of St Edmund King & Martyr, Southwold, Suffolk

The Church of St Edmund King & Martyr, Southwold, stands at the north end of Bartholomew Green which connects to the north side of Victoria Street. The first church on this site was a small construction of the 1200s. Destroyed by fire in 1430, the decision was taken to erect a much grander building that befitted the town's growing status. The present church is the result, lying under one continuous roof, and being completed within about sixty years, by the 1490s.

Church of St Edmund King & Martyr, Southwold, Suffolk

Following the late 1800s discovery that the building's fabric was showing signs of decay (in particular the roof), its interior was extensively restored, seemingly in the early years of the twentieth century, but with a lighter touch than can be seen in some other Suffolk churches. German bombing removed most of the glass from the windows so that a more impressive restoration could be provided. The rood screen of about 1480 is classed as a delight despite Puritan damage.

Church of St Lawrence, South Cove, Suffolk

The Church of St Lawrence, South Cove, is on the eastern side of the B1127 road, about thirty metres north of the junction with the South Cove road. Its origins were in the late Saxon period, around AD 1000, but this was extensively rebuilt by the Normans. The nave remains under its thatched roof and with its original north and south doorways, giving the overall feel of a Norman church. The chancel was added in 1240 and the tower in the fourteenth century.

Church of St Lawrence, South Cove, Suffolk

The Victorians did their best with extensive restoration work in 1877 to change the interior, but failed to remove the essentially Norman feel about the building. When the sun is out it can be filled with light, reflecting off the red-tiled floor. The pulpit dates to the 1600s but has been reduced from its original triple-level. The battered baptismal font bowl of the 1300s is believed to have come from All Saints Dunwich which was swept into the sea in the early twentieth century.

Five photos on this page kindly contributed by Douglas Law, and one by 'Maljoe', all via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group.

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