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St Mary, Blundeston, Suffolk

(52°30′52″N, 1°42′8″E)
TM 513 972
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Suffolk
now Suffolk
  • Ron Baxter

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Feature Sets

Blundeston is in Lothingland, the northernmost hundred of Suffolk. It is a tongue of land enclosed by the Waveney which turns N after leaving Beccles so that it may reach the sea at Yarmouth rather than Lowestoft. The land here is low-lying and arable, and its villages have usually managed to resist encroachments by their giant neighbours to the N and S. Blundeston could be considered a suburb of Lowestoft, but it has not been overrun as Oulton was. It is a good-sized village of some 300 inhabitants, most of whom commute to Yarmouth or Lowestoft. Blundeston prison, at the southern edge of the village, dates from 1963. The church and hall are half a mile apart on either side of the village centre.

St Mary's is a flint church with a nave, chancel and round W tower. The tower is off-axis towards the N of the nave. It is tall and slender with a change of masonry halfway up and another just below the bell-openings, and its fenestration repays study. Its low W window is an insertion of the 15th -16thc. in brick, and the only other window in the lowest masonry is a very narrow round-headed S lancet at the level of the eaves of the nave. The first masonry break comes halfway between the nave eaves and the apex of the nave roof, and there are small 12thc. lancets at this level facing S and W. Then near the top of the nave roof are six large round-headed openings, evenly spaced around the tower and all blocked with brick. These were doubtless the original bell-openings. Alternating with them are another six small 12thc. lancets, at the level of their arch heads. Then comes the second masonry break, a change from flint to brick. Finally there are four pointed bell-openings immediately below the battlemented parapet. Inside, the tower arch is extremely narrow and 12thc. Its offsetting to the N reflects a widening of the nave, so that while the N wall is in its original position, with a 12thc. doorway (now blocked), the S has been rebuilt much further S. Parts of the 12thc. S doorway were reused, but it is largely of the 14thc., under a 15thc. porch of knapped flint. The nave windows on N and S are all 14thc. (flowing) or 15thc. The chancel is of knapped flint with flowing tracery windows of c.1350. The chancel arch and piscina are also 14thc. The chancel was rebuilt in 1851. The N and S doorways are described below.


Ali, commended to Manni, held 45 acres of meadow in Blundeston before the Conquest. This was held by Robert de Vaux from Roger Bigod in 1086. Another holding of 15 acres was held by a free man, Gyrth, from Count Alan.

Benefice of Somerleyton, Ashby, Fritton, Herringfleet, Blundeston and Lound.


Exterior Features



It may be that the brick arch head is all that remains of the original 12thc. doorway; the ashlar jambs and arch having been replaced in the 13thc. or 14thc. (cf Uggeshall, N doorway).

H. M. Cautley, Suffolk Churches and their Treasures. London 1937, 228.
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, 101.