The Church of St. Edmund, King and Martyr, called the grandest church in Suffolk, was built in the 15th century.
In 1458 the Prior of Thetford gave some additional land for the churchyard. In place of asking an annual rent he requested that one rose be placed on the high altar. This tradition continues to this day with a rose being placed on the altar on 24th June, St John the Baptist’s Day.
A famous local figure, Southwold Jack represents a soldier from the Wars of the Roses. He is dressed in armour and holds a sword in one hand and a battle axe in the other. This axe can be raised to ring the bell, which tells the congregation that the service is about to begin.
Jack has been in the church since the 15th century and it’s thought his original function was to strike the hours on the clock. There is another Jack of the Clock in Blythburgh Church, but they are rare figures.
In the chancel are some very unusual carvings on the arm rests of the choir stalls. One of them is of a man who is pulling his mouth open and it’s thought to represent the agonies of medieval toothache!
There is also plenty of graffiti on the choir stalls, but it’s not recent, it dates back to the 17th century. At this time the chancel was not in use for regular worship but was being used as a school room for the local children – so nothing changes.
The elaborate screen was erected in 1480 and is a national treasure with its delicate wood carving tracery. The top of the screen was destroyed by the reformers and the panels at the base were defaced.
Another interesting tale relates to some restoration work which took place in the late 19th century. The roof of the church was found to be rotten and a large piece of roofing hung precariously over the pulpit. Because of the difficulty in reaching the offending piece, a bowler from the local cricket team was called upon to dislodge the item with a cricket ball. Apparently he was successful and no mention is made of any broken windows!
Layer Marney Tower is one of Essex’s most famous landmarks, built during the reign of Henry VIII by Henry, 1st Lord Marney, a respected member of the Privy Council. Fine brickwork was used for the construction with splendid terracotta decoration. The terracotta work is some of the finest in the country, probably carried out by Flemish craftsmen trained by Italian masters.
The Tudor gatehouse is the tallest in Great Britain and is embellished with terracotta shells and dolphins. The gatehouse has three storeys but the hexagonal corner towers rise above the roof line and have eight rows of windows. Between the corner towers are two large rooms which were probably state apartments.
Connected to the gatehouse are the east and west wings. There is also a south wing which is not joined to the rest of the building at all. Lord Marney died before the work on his house was finished and when his son died two years later, in 1525, all building work ceased. Since then the property has had several owners but the building has been well cared for over the years.
Climb to the top of the gatehouse for the views over the Essex countryside. Within the gatehouse there are displays showing the history of the tower and the families that have owned it.
The Suffolk coast is home to many historic landmarks – among them Orford’s strangely fascinating castle keep, set among its former defence mounds.
Built in 1165 by King Henry II, Orford Castle was one of the most important castles in medieval England, protecting the country against the ever present threat of coastal invasion.
A most impressive structure, the castle consisted of a curtain wall with a number of flanking towers, and a twin-towered gatehouse surrounding a polygonal keep (or great tower). A large ditch around the outside of the curtain wall provided further protection.
Today little more than the great tower remains. Protected by a portcullis, it resembles no other tower in Britain or Ireland. The lovely triangular Norman arch can still be seen, and inside the keep’s thick stone walls is what was once a fortified family residence, with spiral stairs inside each of the towers leading to a maze of rooms and passageways.
The Church of St. Bartholomew
Built around the same time as Orford Castle (between 1165 and 1173) a series of ruined chancel arcades is all that remains of Orford’s original church. One of only six medieval Suffolk churches dedicated to St Bartholomew the Apostle, much of the structure was rebuilt in the 14th century, including the present nave and its side aisles. A tower was built at the west end forming the shape of the present splendid church and a new roof was added in 1562.
In 1830 the southwest buttress of the tower gave way, enveloping the church in a great cloud of dust. A major restoration project was undertaken in the 1890s, the interior and re-hanging of the bells completed in time to ring in the Millennium. But the greatest treasure of the church is its remarkable font, still in superb condition, and retaining its dedicatory motto exhorting prayers for the dead.
If you are in Britain and ask a person on the street where horseracing began, Newmarket would probably be the answer. With roots deeply embedded in the history and heritage of horses and horseracing, Newmarket has been the center of the Sport of Kings for more than three and a half centuries.
The modern and imposing Rowley Mile “Course of Champions” boasts world class facilities and world class racing. Today’s course is identified by the magnificent Millenium Grandstand, opened by the Queen in 2000. It dominates the skyline as you approach the course, a far cry from the facilities that would have existed in the 17th century when the King used to watch the races from the famous Bushes, which still exist about a furlong and a half from the winning post.
It was at Newmarket that Britain’s first race was run under written rules more than three centuries ago and it is now the thriving center of international horseracing.
Do the crossword:
3. A soldier from the Wars of the Roses that can be seen on the church of St. Edmund, in Suffolk. (without a gap)
5. Hard reddish-brown baked clay.
9. The part of a church where the priests and the choir (= singers) sit.
10. Shaped with six sides.
1. A town where Britain’s first race was run under written rules more than three centuries ago.
2. A strong iron gate that can be lowered over the entrance of a castle.
4. A brick or stone structure built to support a wall.
6. A castle built by Henry II.
7. The curving and crossing lines of stone in the upper parts of some church windows.
8. Apostle, in whose honour a church near Suffolk was named.
Across: 3. Southwold Jack; 5. terracotta; 9. chancel; 10. hexagonal.
Down: 1. Newmarket; 2. portcullis; 4. buttress; 6. Orford; 7. tracery; 8. Bartholomew.