Do you fancy singing as you walk for Ride and Stride?

The Cantus Firmus choir are planning a Pilgrimage of Song on our fundraising day and invite any other singers to join them. They are going to walk from Coddenham to Ipswich singing at churches on the route.

More details on

Please get sponsored by your family and friends at the same time and raise money for Suffolk Historic Churches Trust and for your chosen church, chapel or meeting house.

For JustGiving set up your page HERE

or a sponsor form is HERE

More details of Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride are HERE

Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride and Pedal & Drive 2023 launched!

Jo Burge and his Rolls Royce with Trustees and Cantus Firmus choir members

Joining the cyclists, walkers and a 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom 2 at the launch of the 2023 Ride and Stride/Pedal & Drive at St Michael’s church, Woolverstone, were singers from Cantus Firmus inter-church choir.  The launch was featured live on BBC Radio Suffolk with interviews by reporter Matt Marvel.

The day-long fundraising events will be held on Saturday 9th September and is for anyone who loves Suffolk and its historic churches, or is looking for a good excuse for a walk or bike ride, or take their vintage or classic car for a spin.     

Organised by Suffolk Historic Churches Trust (SHCT), Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride, and Pedal & Drive is an annual event which sees several thousand cyclists and walkers of all ages, (and drivers of vintage and classic cars) taking part in the annual fundraising event for the repair and upkeep of Suffolk churches.

This year the Trust is celebrating its 50th anniversary. 

Cantus Firmus choir are also inviting singers to walk with them as part of Ride and Stride in September, as they walk from Coddenham to Ipswich, singing a short service at churches on the route. The Pilgrimage of Song, led by St Edmundsbury Cathedral & Ipswich Music Development Director Richard Hubbard, is part of the cathedral’s InHarmony Project. The services will be led by Rev’d Mary Sokanovic.

“2023 is a big year for the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, a 50th anniversary. Let’s make it a really big and fun day out on 9th September. Find a friend or two and “Get on your Bike”. Discover new parts of Suffolk and the beautiful churches that we are so lucky to have as part of our history,” said Simon Ronan, the Chairman of Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride . 

Cyclists and walkers get sponsors or donations for their journey around some of Suffolk’s churches, choosing their own route, long or short. The money they raise help save this wonderful part of our history, with half going to the Trust to give out as grants for church buildings, and half to the participants chosen church. Hundreds of churches will be open to welcome participants on Saturday 9th September.

The Pilgrimage of Song starts with a workshop at St Mary’s Church, Coddenham Church, to learn the music which will be sung during the day. The group will walk to St Botolph’s Church, Whitton, singing services at Barham and Akenham, then ending the day with a hot meal. 

“The music wide-ranging”, explained Richard Hubbard, leader of the Cantus Firmus choir. “There’ something to suit all levels of ability. We’d encourage singers who want to participate in Ride and Stride to make this their route. As well as registering with Ride and Stride, you’ll need to book a singing place at “

Also, on the same day, the Suffolk Churches vintage and classic car rally Pedal & Drive is held with the cars travelling a provided route, around a selection of churches, ending at Lavenham. 

“We are proud that, over 50 years, we have raised & distributed over £10 million (in today’s money) for the upkeep of Suffolk’s glorious legacy of churches, and we are determined to make this year’s fundraiser bike ride on Saturday September 9th break all records.  Help us by cycling, walking, welcoming the cyclists as a sitter in their church or by turning out in a beloved vintage or classic car, or by digging deep to sponsor one of the participants. Those wonderful church buildings which grace our communities & our landscape don’t look after themselves, so please help us help those who care for them,” said Trust Chairman and organiser of Pedal & Drive, Geoffrey Probert. 

Car owners who want to take part should email For more details click here

Sponsor forms for all participants are now available in Suffolk churches, and from the Trust website. Donations and sponsorship can also be collected via Just Giving.

Jo Burge (car owner) and Simon Ronan, (Chair of Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride)

More details of Ride and Stride are now available from SHCT Ride and Stride local organisers, by email , by phoning 01787 883884 or click here

The annual ride, began in Suffolk in 1982 but has now spread across England, appeals to families, local history lovers, keen cyclists and walkers, church supporters and those who just enjoy an annual trip around the villages and towns of Suffolk. 

A list of churches that are open, and a sponsor form, is available  (click here) and from participating Suffolk churches. Cyclists and walkers can choose whichever churches they wish, and disability scooters are welcome too.

A photography competition for participants will also be held and details will be announced on this website nearer the time.

Annual Study Day

Saturday 4th March 2023 10 am – 3 pm at Haughley Park Barn


How it all Began SHCT the First 50 years – Howard Stephens

A Look at Victorian Churches – Roy Tricker BEM

Furnishing & Decorating the Medieval Church – Clive Paine

The day took place on 4th March at Haughley Park Barn

Howard Stephens started the day with ‘How it all Began SHCT the First 50 years’ with the story of those especially concerned about the parlous state of many of Suffolk’s medieval churches. In 1973 under the leadership of the then Duke of Grafton several people with an interest in Suffolk’s eccesiastical heritage got together to form the Trust to raise funds for repair grants. The talk was illustrated with photos from the archives plus some fascinating facts and figures on how much has been achieved

Roy Tricker shared his enthusiasm and love of the Victorians influence on Suffolk’s churches illustrated with many photographs and drawings which served to underline how they made a significant contribution to the preservation of medieval churches and also built some interesting churches of their own such as Higham, St. Stephen by Sir George Gilbert Scott.

In the afternoon Clive Paine talked about how our churches were furnished and decorated in medieval times and how much has survived. Rooves, figures and niches; wall paintings, stone carving, woodcarving there is so much to look out for. Clive with his expert knowledge was able to point out so much that is still visible but with significance not always understood. Highlights included the distinctive work of Master Mason Hawes of Occold, one of the few mastercraftman known to us by name. Also the facinating range of roof carvings at Gazley recently photographed for a book Men, Myths and Monsters.

Higham, St. Stephen Occold arcade, Wingfield Angel and organ Gazeley

Latest news: Jubilee grants, money raised by Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride and Pedal & Drive 2022… and the quarterly grants announced.

  • Tributes to mark Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee carry on into 2023 in Suffolk, with the news that the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust (SHCT) has awarded £152,000 to 51 churches. 
  • A record annual amount is given to support church buildings in time for the 50th anniversary of the Trust. 
  • Figure announced for the money raised by Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride and Pedal & Drive Day. 

Last year the Trustees of the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust decided to allocate £70,000 to a Jubilee Fund for projects the Trust saw as a fitting tribute to the Queen’s remarkable 70 year reign. 

They deliberately ruled out applications relating to structural work which is the bread & butter of their normal grant-giving and instead to ask for works they would not normally fund like the restoration of clocks, monuments, paintings, textiles, books, organs, stained glass and churchyard works. To spread the money grant would only be awarded to projects that would not exceed £5,000 ,with the requested grant expected to cover the bulk if not the entire costs of the project.

In the event, the Trust received 55 applications adding up to over £180,000. Owing to the enormous generosity of two supporters of the Trust who had recently left very substantial legacies to the SHCT, the Trustees felt able to bridge most, if not all, of the gap and to award £152,000 to 51 churches right across Suffolk.

Chairman of the SHCT Geoffrey Probert commented ‘Our Charity is here to help in the upkeep of our glorious inheritance of Suffolk churches and chapels, so it gives us huge pleasure that so many churches came forward with imaginative ways to mark the Jubilee. Her Late Majesty was Patron of the National Churches Trust and I’m sure she would have been thrilled to see so many projects being realised in her name in Suffolk’. 

The successful projects ranged from a Jubilee Garden at St Mary Martlesham to installing a Royal Coat of Arms at St Mary’s, Raydon, and the skyline of Suffolk will be enhanced by a new weathervane at St Mary Magdalene, Debenham. The restoration of St Mary Withersfield tower clock and the repainting of the sundial at Bradfield St George also feature. All manner of improved community facilities have been funded, such as a wheelchair ramp at St Andrew Brockley, new notice boards at St Peter’s, Thurston and St Mary’s, Mendlesham, and a commemoration bench at St John Elmswell, (see full list below).

The Trustees of SHCT continue to award grants towards church, chapel and meeting house building projects, four times a year, so these grants are in addition to the £60,000 awarded to ten churches at the January grants meeting. 

“January has proved to be an exhilarating month for the Grants Committee which has been able to award a total of £212,00 this time,” said a delighted SHCT Grants Chairman, John Devaux, “as we have increased our maximum grant to £20,000, we have been able to award £15,000 to St Margaret’s at Thrandesdon and £10,000 to St Peter’s, Stutton for essential work on their roofs. This means that the total awarded in the year 2022-23 amounted to an amazing £317,700.”

Churches awarded Grants for building and improvement projects: 

Brantham, Stutton, Thrandeston, Stradbroke, Ringsfield, Shelley, Beccles, Boyton, Fornham All Saints and Hintlesham. 

The money came from legacies to the Trust, and also money raised by the annual Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride and Pedal & Drive events held in September.

“We are delighted to announce that in one day our cyclists, walkers, drivers and volunteers raised almost £180,000,” added Geoffrey. “A quarter of those taking part were families but also included many over 70 year olds! We would like to thank everyone who got involved, including all the sponsors.”

Next year’s Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride and Pedal & Drive is on Saturday 9th September and will be part of a Suffolk Churches Fortnight as the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust celebrate their 50th anniversary with a service at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, and other events. 

Churches awarded Jubilee Grants:

St Mary Magdalene, Debenham – weather vane

St Mary’s, Kersey- 3 new windows, clear with a red, white and blue highlight in the centre

St Andrews Brockely – wheelchair ramp

St Michaels Beccles – lectern

St Marys Kentford – handrail

St Peter and St Paul, Fressingfield – door curtain and altar cloth

St Peter’s Acton – refurbish organ

All Saints, Hitcham – bench end panels

St Mary’s Raydon – Royal Coat of Arms 

St Johns Denham – porch commemorative window

All Saints, Hollesley – catering unit

St John, Elmswell – a churchyard bench

St Mary’s Withersfield – clock restoration

St Edmund, Assington – mobile servery unit

St Nicholas, Thelnetham – 25 kneeler kits 

St Peters Thurston – notice boards

All Saints, Sproughton – organ modification

St Mary’s Hinderclay – sound system

St Marys  Mendelsham-  noticeboard  by the gate

Bradfield St George – restore sundial

St Marys Pakenham – tea urn

St Andrew Cotton – replace QEll Coronation Light

St Peter Hepworth – automatic clock winder

St Andrew, GT Finborogh – glazed porch doors

Holy Trinity, Long Melford – eight flower stands

St Marys Nettlestead – churchyard bench

St Bartholomew’s, Ingham – churchyard wall

St Peter, Spexhall – restore creed boards

St Mary’s Walsham le Willows – replace flags and curtain

St Marys Dennington – churchyard gates

St Gregory’s Barnham – conservation of hatchment

All Saints, Gt Ashfield – Clergy chairs 

St Mary at the Elms Ipswich – remote bell chimer

All Saints, Worlington – churchyard gates

All Saints, Chelsworth – restore the font

St Mary’s, Martlesham – Jubilee garden

All Saints, Stanton -altar

All Saints, Stuston – bird doors in porch

St Mary’s, Worlingworth – organ bellows

SS Mary’s and Botolph, Whitton– window roundel

St Mary’s, Clopton- altar repositioning

St Mary’s, Bures – live stream videoing

St Nicholas, Hintlesham – restore two hatchments

All saints, Hartest – display boards

Our Lady and St Edmunds, Withermarsh Green – restore tabernacle and gradine

St Andrew, Tostock- cupboards to match kitchen

St Margaret’s, Stradishall – new altar

St Peter’s, Monks Eleigh – memorial bench

St Andrew’s, Layham – replace flagpole 

St Mary’s, Glemsford – frontals chest 

All Saints, Sudbury – sound system

The Suffolk Walking Festival 2023

The Suffolk Walking Festival (Photo David Falk)

May is the month to discover more walks in Suffolk as it is when the Suffolk Walking Festival is held, and this year some guided walks are of special interest to church lovers. 

Seventy walks are planned between 13 and 29th May in 2023 and each has a walk leader who can interpret the landscape, knows about the history of the area or has specialist knowledge for that walk. 

“We have the launch on 13th May at the beautiful Thornham estate with five walks in one day,” David Falk the Festival Director explained. “The Henniker family have been there since the 1800’s so we have a walk about the history of the estate, two foraging ‘tasting walks’, nibbling food as we go, there is a night safari, and a walk from Thornham to Mellis Common, along Cow Pasture Lane, a 1000 year old droving trail, coming back via the 14th century St Mary’s church, at Thornham Parva with its frescos.”

Simon Knott on his website Suffolk Churches says,

St Mary’s. Thornham Parva (Photo by Simon Knott)

“You have to step inside to discover Thornham Parva church is one of the most remarkable small churches in East Anglia, a treasure house, an aesthetic pleasure, a delight. …A church that attracts visitors from all over the world. If it were in the Victoria and Albert Museum, we would willingly travel to London to see them and pay handsomely for doing so.” 

There the walkers will see a depiction of the martyrdom of St Edmunds and learn more about the 14thcentury church.

There are two church-related walks for Rogation Day, when on 15th May a long distance walk will leave St Edmundsbury Cathedral to follow the parish boundary of St Mary’s with St Peter’s.  You can also join in with ‘Beating the Bounds’ for Rogation Day on 20th May with a challenging and varied walk following the boundaries of the ecclesiastical parishes of Exning with Landwade, St Agnes Exning and St Mary Newmarket.

Some of the 70 Festival walks are free and for some there is a small fee which go towards covering the cost of organising the Festival, and any specific expenses, such as transport or refreshments. Most of the marketing and all the ticket sales are now online and the advertised walks state the length, time it will take and level of difficulty. 

More details will be on the walking festival website at

Ticket sales open on 1st March 2023.

Latest Grants awarded by SHCT… and a call for more applications for a Queen’s Jubilee Grant.

Grants awarded to eight churches …and there is still time to apply for a Queens Jubilee grant, in HM memory.  

At its recent meeting the Grants Committee of Suffolk Historic Churches Trust awarded grants totalling nearly £45,000 to eight churches.  

The largest grant, of £10,000, was awarded to St Mary’s at Stoke by Nayland, after the fall of the outer flintwork of the south aisle wall (pictured above). United Reform Church had a grant towards replacing their heating system, and at St Mary’s, Stonham Aspal the money will go towards improving disabled facilities (pictured below).

Also awarded grants were St Margaret’s Westhorpe, St John’s Ilketshall St John, St Peters Fakenham Magna, All Saints Gt Ashfield, and St Peters Copdock. 

Suffolk Historic Churches Trust give grants towards the cost of repairs and improvements to churches, chapels and meeting houses, four times year in January, April, July and October. Details of how to apply are HERE

Special Jubilee Grant for 2022- closing date approaching!

Trustees will soon be allocating money from the special Queen’s Jubilee memorial fund, where churches and chapels can apply for grants of up to £5,000.

“Applications for grants remain buoyant and Suffolk Historic Churches Trust is delighted that it was able to make awards totalling £44,900 in October”, explained  John Devaux, SHCT Grants Chairman. “The Trust announced earlier this year that it will, in addition, be awarding Platinum Jubilee Grants of up to £5,000 for projects which would not normally qualify for a grant. The work should be a fitting tribute to HM Queen Elizabeth ll’s long reign and Jubilee.”

Applications to come in so far have included for a church weathervane, wheelchair ramps and handrails, organ repairs and commemorative stained glass.

The Trust decided to award this extra series of grants, totalling £70,000, with each grant generally being up to £5,000 for work that will benefit the community and congregation and will provide a fitting tribute to the Queen’s long reign.  Structural work is not included as the usual grants can be applied for in those cases. 

Generally, the Jubilee grants will be expected to cover the bulk if not the entire costs of the project and may include, but not exclusively: clocks, monuments, paintings, textiles, books, organs, stained glass and wooden objects.

The closing date for applications for Platinum Jubilee Grants is 31st December 2022. Further information and a grant application form can be found HERE

Abbey of St Edmund 1000: light spectacular tickets on sale

(Image : Courtesy of Projection Studio)

Tickets on sale from 30 September for St Edmund’s Day Weekend Spectacular 17-20 November

Tickets for the spectacular light show over St Edmund’s Day weekend will be on sale from Friday, 30 September. Taking place every evening between 17 and 20 November in the heart of Bury St Edmunds, the light show is part of the celebrations for the 1000th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund.

Sound and light projections onto the historic Norman Tower and St Edmundsbury Cathedral Tower will tell the story of St Edmund and the founding of the Abbey using carefully researched historic images, accompanied by an enchanting themed light trail through the Abbey Gardens.

The two video projections will use 3D mapping directly onto the surface of the buildings, as opposed to a conventional screen, resulting in visually striking effects, creating an unmissable finale to the year’s celebrations. Each projection will be repeated during the evening. 

Images will be from many historic sources including illuminated manuscripts from the Abbey such as the Bury Bible and Lydgate’s Life of St Edmund, combined with special lighting effects, music and voices. 

The Weekend Spectacular experience begins at the Norman Tower. View the projection on the building, then follow the special effects light trail through the Abbey Gardens taking in the Abbey ruins, Rose Garden and the Pilgrims Herb Garden. The trail emerges into the Cathedral car park, where you can view the second projection on the side of the Cathedral Tower.

Rev’d Canon Matthew Vernon, St Edmundsbury Cathedral said;  “This is a fantastic culmination of a year long celebration of 1000 years since the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund. We hope residents and visitors alike will join us to celebrate here at the Norman Tower, St Edmundsbury Cathedral, and the Abbey Gardens where it all started 1000 years ago.”

Cllr Jo Rayner, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture at West Suffolk Council said; “This is an opportunity for people from across our communities to come together to celebrate, share and enjoy this special moment in our unique and wonderful history.

“We know that the last few years, when these celebrations were originally planned for, have been difficult and this year continues to present us all with new challenges. 

Never-the-less, we and our communities are proud of our history and heritage in West Suffolk. That is why I am delighted that the partnership has been able to secure support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for these events including the Weekend Spectacular which alongside the Christmas in Bury St Edmunds events, we hope will provide some winter sparkle and cheer to communities and local businesses.”

Libby Ranzetta, Chair of Abbey 1000 C.I.C, said; “This fabulous event will evoke the magnificence of the Abbey of St Edmund at the height of its glory, when pilgrims from all over Europe would travel miles by foot and horseback to kneel at St Edmund’s bejewelled shrine and marvel at the huge abbey church.  We thank the National Lottery Heritage Fund, local businesses, Bury St Edmunds Town Council and West Suffolk Council for making this and the other Abbey 1000 celebratory events possible throughout 2022.”

Fully accessible, it will take around 20-30 minutes to walk through the light trail with timed and ticketed admission. Tickets for the evening will be on sale from 8.00am on 30 September online at or in person at The Apex box office priced at £3 per person, with free entry for under 5s. 

The Weekend Spectacular is among nine important Abbey 1000 events supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. It is being jointly organised by St Edmundsbury Cathedral and West Suffolk Council on behalf of Abbey 1000 C.I.C, while West Suffolk 

College is producing the Abbey Gardens trail. The light show will be created by the award-winning Projection Studio, who have created 3D video mapping on several UK landmark buildings including the Blackpool Tower and York Minster.

More details about this event and the full year’s programme can be viewed at

Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride 2022 – Photography Competition winners

Congratulations to John Barrable (aged 13) from Belchamp St. Paul, Sudbury who has won this year’s Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride photography competition, and a £75 book token. 

John Barrable, at St Mary’s, Hawkeden, winner of this years photo competiton

John was taking part again in the fundraising event that he last did when younger, and his sponsor money will be divided between Suffolk Historic Churches Trust and Clare Baptist Church. In one day, he cycled between 11 churches (44km by bike), visiting Belchamp St Paul,  Pentlow, Cavendish, Boxted , Somerton , Rede, Hawkedon,  Denston, Stansfield, Poslingford and Clare.

To be the winner of the photography competition the entrant had to submit a set of six photos, taken on Ride and Stride Day 2022, comprising a church or chapel door, a church window a memorial plate, plaque or gravestone, and a photo of a non-conformist church (ie, not Church of England but Methodist, Baptist, Unitarian Meeting House, etc). The final two photos were one of themselves ( a selfie) and a free choice… whatever they wished to mark about their day.

The independent judge (a professional artist and church lover) said she liked John’s unusual selection, especially the very ancient little door, the tiny window (when most people photographed a stained glass window), and the gravestone, with its bones and the  view behind. 

John’s winning set of images.

There is one further prize of £25 book token for an individual photo, and that was won by Derek Worrall from Ipswich with his view of the inside of St Andrew’s Church in Felixstowe. Church. The judge said she loved the symmetrical lines and how the viewers eye was led to the window by the angled beams. It also was the fact it was such a different view of the first church in England to be built from concrete, usually photographed outside. 

St Andrew’s Church, Felixstowe (by Derek Worall)

Derek chose to give 50% of his fundraising to Tattingstone church. He is spending his book voucher on Glory, Azure and Gold: The Stained-Glass Windows of Thomas Denny, 2020 – very appropriate!

A selection of the photographs entered into the competition are on the Ride and Stride page of this website. Some have not yet been identified and we ask the photographers to contact us as soon as possible with the locations. 

Prizes were donated by a supporter of the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, which gives grants for church buildings. Next year, Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride will be held on Saturday 9th September.

Our big fundraising day went ahead on Saturday 10th September 2022

On Saturday 10th September the annual Suffolk Historic Churches Trust’s annual fundraiser was held and cyclists, walkers and drivers journeyed around Suffolk’s churches. 

Car, cyclists, and volunteer signer-in at Onehouse church (photo by Paul Page).

“As the Royal Patron of the National Churches Trust since 1953 we know our work was close to HM the Queen’s heart,” said Geoffrey Probert, Chairman of Suffolk Historic Churches Trust. “We decided to go ahead with our plans and asked those taking part to remember her on their journey, to reflect upon her life of service, to say a prayer for her soul in every church they visit and to sign any Book of Condolences they find.”

Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride event has sponsored walkers and cyclists who choose their route, as long or as short as they wish. For the sister event, Pedal and Drive, vintage and classic cars are given a set route around six churches, leaving from five country houses, finally meeting up in Lavenham. 

Over 100 cars took part, some with black ribbons attached, while Ride and Stride was supported by several thousand cyclists, walkers and volunteers in churches and chapels. All denominations took part and many of those participating are not members of church congregations but wish to help preserve the historic religious buildings in their community.

In the Felixstowe area a group of cyclists from Levington church, included two who are living in the area from war-torn Ukraine who rode, draped in their country’s flag.  

In Bury St Edmunds, Rosie from Whepstead Methodist Church, who had intended to ride her bicycle as part of Ride and Stride, took to a rickshaw after she broke her leg. Peddled by family friend Sharon Steed, younger brother Hadley had the job of running onto churches to get their sponsor form signed. 

Several of the cars from Pedal and Drive found they met up with cyclists on their journey. 

A rota of volunteers ensured those arriving at churches, chapels and Meeting Houses were greeted as their sponsor forms were signed

Last year, the one-day event raised over £110,000.

Participants in Ride and Stride can nominate the church they wish half of their sponsor money to go to. The remainder is given in grants for church buildings, throughout the year, by Suffolk Historic Churches Trust. The final figure for money raised this year will be known later in the year, when all the sponsor money is collected.

Next year the Suffolk Churches fundraising day will be on Saturday 9th September. 

See photos from this year on Ride and Stride and Pedal and Drive