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All Saints, Sudbourne, Suffolk

(52°6′47″N, 1°32′4″E)
TM 421 520
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Suffolk
now Suffolk
  • Ron Baxter

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Feature Sets

Sudbourne is a village in SE Suffolk, situated in the so-called Wilford peninsula between the estuaries of the Alde and the Deben, 3½ miles SW of Aldeburgh and 9 miles E of Woodbridge. The land here is wooded; Sudbourne Great Wood is N of the village, and Tunstall Forest to the E and W. The village itself is substantial. Its centre clusters around a junction on the road from Snape to Orford. Sudbourne Park and the Hall site are a mile outside the village to the SW, and the church stands apart on the edge of Tunstall Forest, 0.8 mile SE of the village centre.

All Saints stands on a rise between the forest and the flattish arable land to the S. It consists of a long, broad nave and chancel in one with a W tower with a Hertfordshire spike. The nave has 15thc. N and S porches, the S now converted to a vestry and the 12thc. S doorway moved to an exterior position further W, where it is blocked. Further evidence for the 12thc. nave is a blocked S window, visible on the interior. There is a plain 13thc. lancet in the S nave wall, but otherwise the windows have Y-tracery ofc.1300 or are 15thc. There is no chancel arch, the interior forming a long, broad space under a single roof. On the N and S side of the chancel are shallow pseudo-chapels; the N housing the organ and the S a pew. On the N side of the chancel is the large monument to Sir Michael Stanhope (d.1621). The tower is early 14thc. , with diagonal W buttresses and Y-tracery bell-openings. The parapet is embattled and decorated with flushwork. It was renewed in 1879. On the top is a 19thc. lead Hertfordshire spike. The church suffered a fire in the 17thc. and was rebuilt in 1676. A sketch by Isaac Johnson of 1818 shows the tower with a pyramid cap. By the 1870s the church was in need of restoration and this was funded by Sir Richard Wallace, then Lord of the Manor, and carried out in 1878-79 by the architect Frederick Barnes of Ipswich. He uncovered the Romanesque S doorway, which had apparently been covered in plaster. The nave walls were entirely cased with stone rubble, and the chancel taken down and rebuilt and the two lateral chapels added. The church was entirely re-roofed at that time, and new benches and stalls were fitted. The parapet of the tower, formerly of brick, was rebuilt in stone and rubble with flushwork, and the tower roof was replaced with the present spike. The only Romanesque sculpture is on the S nave doorway. A mortar in use as a font and fitted in the 19thc. with neo-Romanesque shafts is not 12thc.


Sudbourne was held as a manor by Ely Abbey before and after the Conquest, with 6 carucates of ploughland, 4 acres of meadow and woodland for 12 pigs. Other, smaller holdings are recorded under Robert Malet. Before the Conquest, 12 free men commended to Eadric of Laxfield held 60 acres, 20 of which formed a manor belonging to one of the men. There was a church with 16 acres. In 1086 Gilbert de Wissant held all of this from Robert Malet. Another 30 acres were held by Walter de Caen from Robert Malet, this holding including an acre of meadow, a fishery and a salt-pan.

Wilford Peninsula benefice, i.e. Alderton, Bawdsey, Boyton, Bromeswell, Butley, Chillesford, Eyke, Hollesley, Iken, Orford, Ramsholt, Rendlesham, Shottisham, Sudbourne, Sutton, Tunstall and Wantisden.


Exterior Features



Similar capitals and chevron occur on the N doorway of St Peter’s, Theberton 8 miles to the N.

H. M. Cautley, Suffolk Churches and their Treasures. London 1937, 321.
D. P. Mortlock, The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches: 3 East Suffolk. Cambridge 1992.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Suffolk. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. E. Radcliffe 1975, 451.
R. Tricker, All Saints Church Sudbourne Suffolk, Brief History and Guide. Ipswich 1987.