December 26 – Boxing Day and a visit to Huntingfield Church

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Off for another day of exploring around East Suffolk and another list of churches we hope to see including one off Charlie’s list of ‘must sees’.  First, we detoured slightly at Sibton to see St Peters church. It doesn’t look like it is used very often and there is only one park which we took advantage of. The church was closed and the geocache had no hint and frankly given the number of trees it could have been anywhere. I saw a stump standing up right next to the car door and put my hand right on top of it. We were both highly surprised that I had found it so quickly especially considering that the last people had been unable to find it. Across the road, we could see an abbey remains and just had to go there too. It was very hard to find access to it, there was certainly no road and no footpath either. Finally, we found a footpath which might get there so we set off to see.Quite a trek later around fields, we finally reached the abbey ruins. It was very cool with very old walls looking very precarious so we took heed of the notice and stood well back. A great find. Sibton Abbey, an early Cistercian abbey, was founded in 1150 by William de Chesney, High Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk.

Next, we drove through Heveningham where there was another lovely looking church. It was closed but we walked down the road to see the village sign. Finally, we reached our main aim for the day – St Mary’s church in Huntingfield. The cache was quickly found with a clever hint. But Huntingfield church is one of the most amazing places we have seen in the UK and we have seen some great places. The chancel and the nave ceilings were painted and gilded by Mildred Holland, the vicar’s wife over three years finishing in 1866. £16 was spent on 225 books of gold leaf and £72 on the coloured paints. It would cost significantly more now! The research, painting and colours are outstanding. A novel has been written about Mildred and the painting of the Huntingfield church ceiling. It is called ‘The Huntingfield Paintress’ by Pamela Holmes. A stunning place and one off our bucket list. Our bucket list seems to get longer instead of shorter as people tell us about so many great places to visit. There was also a nice village sign in Huntingfield just across from the pub which made reaching, signing and replacing the log quite difficult as there was a guy sitting outside looking directly at us. I placed myself in his line of sight while Mike grabbed the cache.

On the way to Cookley, we visited St Mary’s church in Walpole. It had a lovely altar cloth and a beautiful tiled floor. It also had a plaster Hanoverian Royal Coat of Arms and a Norman arched doorway. Cookley had a lovely village sign in the centre of the road and while we were finding the cache we noticed crows flying in and landing on the field. We do not know what attracted them as it had not been freshly ploughed but they kept coming. As Mike moved towards them to take a photograph the whole lot flew up into the sky, a rather extraordinary sight, our first ‘murder of crows’. It was an interesting approach to St Peter’s church as it was through somebody’s property. The church was open and it is quite plain but it does have Browne family monumental brass, a lovely octagonal font and poppyheads on all the pews. There was no stained glass but does have some old graffiti on the lead. It was getting very cold by then so we decided to head home but we still managed to fit in two more village signs and two more churches.

St Margaret’s church in Linstead Parva was a lovely church with a carved stone font and poppyheads on the pews. There were some stained glass windows but the window over the altar was unusual as it had a dark side and a light side which was quite disturbing for my synchronised mind. The cache was easily found and the box was big enough for one of our travel bugs. We were keen to find the cache at the Linstead Parva village sign as the number was 1066 but unfortunately, it was nowhere to be found.

At Ubbeston we found a village sign and then the last cache for the day was St Peter’s church in Cransford. The church wasn’t open as it is late in the day but this was our 550th church micro and we are 350th on the church micro ‘Hall of Fame’. Not bad for 19 months – 10,000th to 350th.