St Andrew's Church

St Andrew's is the fourth church to have been built in Walberswick. It is tucked into the south-west corner of the ruins of the third church.

To begin at the beginning, the first known church was mentioned as early as AD 1400. It stood in Chapel Field (now all but marshes) at the end of Stocks Lane. It was dismantled in 1473 and the last visible remains disappeared when in 1728 Robert Blackmore ploughed up its cemetery. The second church was built on higher ground, away from the marshes, in Fish Street (now The Street) on the same site as the present church. These two churches existed at the same time. It is said to have had a high pitched roof but without a tower. In 1426 a contract for the erection of a tower was made and given to Richard Russell of Dunwich, a master mason. Together with Adam, a Blythburgh mason, they built the tower with strict instructions that it was not to eclipse any other tower in the district. They were to copy the properties of Tunstall church and the details of the west front of Halesworth church. The tower was to be of certain dimensions and should have four buttresses and a stairway. The end result was one of the finest towers in Suffolk with eight pinnacles on the tower, each with a gilt fane, and in the centre of the roof stood a wooden spire on top of which perched a goose. The tower also contained five bells and there was a clock with chimes.

In 1468 the church itself was pulled down but as the tower had only just been completed, it was left standing. The building of the third church started shortly after and was completed in 1493. This is the church that now stands in ruins. Apart from the tower, the new church was extremely similar to that in Blythburgh, which itself had been completed just one year earlier. It was a large structure with thirty-six clerestory windows, a great east window and two large windows in each chancel.

In the mid-16th century, the church was robbed of its tithes and in 1585 the great bell was sold. The town declined and the church fell into decay. A petition was made to take down the roof of the chancel, nave and north aisle and to sell the lead, timber and three of the four remaining bells, the proceeds to be used to repair the church.

In 1696 the dismantled church was used to provide repairs and restoration of the south aisle, and together with the original porch this more or less forms St Andrew's as it is today.

If you would like to book St Andrew's for a special service, please email revsimon@talktalk.net or use the Contact Us form.

You can find all the Services listed in the Diary on this website, or click Services in the left hand margin. Click Links to go to the Sole Bay Team Ministry website.