Suffolk is rich in historic churches with the second greatest density of medieval churches in the country.
- Suffolk has around 500 historic medieval churches, and our towns and villages would look and feel very different without their spires and towers reaching up into wide Suffolk skies.
- In addition there are non-conformist churches, meeting houses and Catholic churches which are also a crucial part of the history of our county.
- Many of the tourists coming to Suffolk each year come to enjoy the rural landscape and to find links with their family history. Others just love visiting churches. Tourism is worth £1.084bn to the Suffolk economy and the sector employs 30,000 people in 2,000 businesses.
- The importance of these historic buildings to the communities where they are located cannot be over-stated. Weddings, funerals, baptisms, harvest, Christmas, weekly worship …regular church-goers and occasional users.
- Local people, who would never attend a service of worship, value the role their church has as a focal point in parishes where there may be no shop, public house or village hall. The church is often the only gathering place for local people to discuss local issues or hold social events.
- Huge historic buildings that were built for large communities are often a financial drain upon the smaller populations they now serve.
- Many of the medieval fonts, pew ends and other historical treasures to be found in our churches would be in locked in museums in other countries.
- Grants from the SHCT help with the preservation, repair, maintenance, improvement, upkeep, beautification and reconstruction of churches and chapels in Suffolk and of their monuments, stained glass, furniture, ornaments, fittings and fixtures.
- Last year grants awarded by SHCT to Suffolk churches, chapels and meeting houses ranged from £400 to £10,000.
- The main fund-raising event is Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride (a national event that began in Suffolk in 1982), when over 3,500 people get involved as either riders or organisers. From 2018, a Pedal & Drive event for vintage and historic cars has been held alongside the main event. In 2019, £128,405 was raised by this one day’s effort.
- The other income the charity receives is from legacies, donations and membership fees from the Friends of SHCT.
Suffolk Historic Churches Trust know how many visitors to Suffolk love visiting our wonderful medieval churches, so we are we want to promote both our churches and our fund-raising annual bike ride even more widely.
You might like to time your visit for the second Saturday in September which is Ride & Stride Day, or have family and friends come and stay that weekend, and take part in the bike ride – it is great fun and a good way to see the county.
For accommodation and good places to eat, go to www.visitsuffolk.com
If you would like more information about the churches of Suffolk and an excellent glossary which explains what you are looking at, and its historical significance, it is worth looking at The Churches of East Anglia, Simon Knott’s very personal record of his passion for churches.
The SHCT has a large collection of books for sale at a cost of £1 plus post and packing at cost:
(We also have a large stock of postcards with various views of church towers/porches/monuments etc at 5p each.).
Please use the contact page for more details or phone the office on 01787 883884
OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS:
- A Little History of the English Country Church – Roy Strong
- The Parish Churches of England – J Charles Cox
- How Old is That Church? – Pamela Cunnington
- England’s Thousand Best Churches – Simon Jenkins
- The Buildings of England Suffolk – Nikolaus Pevsner
- Suffolk Churches and Their Treasures – H. Munro Cautley
- The Guide to Suffolk Churches – D. P. Mortlock
- Suffolk Churches Great and Small – Richard Tilbrook, Roy Tricker, and George Pipe
- Suffolk Church Walks John Pardy & Roy Tricker
- Inside Churches ( A Guide to Church Furnishings) – NADFAS (National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societes)
- How to Read a Church – Richard Taylor (A guide to images, symbols and meanings in churches and cathedrals)
If you have any books on visiting churches or church architecture that you have found useful please let us know the details so that we can add them to our list for users of this site.
The Churches of East Anglia
Simon Knott’s personal journey around the churches of Suffolk
Round Towers Churches Society
Works for the preservation of these churches, and to investigate further their origins and history.
The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich
Serving Suffolk Communities
National Churches Trust
Promoting a culture that recognises and supports church buildings of historic, architectural and community value.
Churches Conservation Trust
The national charity protecting historic churches at risk.
Suffolk Guild of Ringers
Looks after bellringing in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich
Churches Together in Suffolk
An ecumenical organisation which unites churches in Suffolk.