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St Lawrence, South Cove, Suffolk

(52°22′8″N, 1°40′15″E)
South Cove
TM 500 809
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Suffolk
now Suffolk
  • Ron Baxter

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Feature Sets

South Cove is 1.5 miles from the sea, in the low arable lands between Southwold and Lowestoft. It hardly qualifies as a village, consisting as it does of the church and Church Farm alongside, with a cottage or two. Its parishioners were traditionally farm workers and fishermen. St Lawrence's church is of flint with a nave and chancel of equal width covered by a single thatched roof, and a tall W tower. The nave N and S doorways are 12thc., the S protected by a tiny 19thc. porch of knapped flint. The nave is earlier than this, however; the removal of 19thc. render in 1995 revealed a vertical joint at the NE angle of the nave, where it turned to meet a chancel that was originally narrower. This angle was of the large, uncut stones (erratics) typical of pre-Conquest masonry. The present chancel apparently dates from the mid-13thc. (piscina) and its Y-tracery windows were added c.1300. Some of the nave windows were replaced at that period too, and the other nave windows were renewed in the 15thc. There is no chancel arch. The tower is 14thc. and has diagonal buttresses and an embattled parapet, both decorated with flushwork. The W window is 15thc. The W bell-opening has been replaced with a plain arched opening with a single central mullion. Romanesque sculpture survives in the two nave doorways.


Count Alan held half a carucate of land here in 1086, and six free men held it from him. A further parcel of 16 acres was held by Eadric from Robert Malet. No church was recorded here, and South Cove was not a manor then or later. There is no trace or evidence of a manor house.

Sole Bay Team Ministry: i.e. Blythburgh, Covehithe with Benacre, Frostenden, Henstead with Hulver, Reydon, Sotherton, South Cove, Southwold, Uggeshall, Walberswick, Wangford and Wrentham.


Exterior Features



The chevron decoration of the S doorway is in no way unusual; a similar profile may be seen, for example, on the much-restored S doorway at St Mary's, Bentley but no connection is suggested.

Anon., A Short History of St Lawrence Church (undated information sheet).
H. M. Cautley, Suffolk Churches and their Treasures. London 1937.
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, 426.