March 11 – Mother’s Day Outing to Dunwich

A place with a long and interesting history

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

A service had just finished at St John’s church at Saxmundham so we couldn’t get inside. However, we had been here before so we didn’t need to go into the church but just to look for the cache. The cache was very easy to find this time. In fact, a little too easy as anyone else walking down that track could have seen it. I put it back but covered it with some leaves to give it some better cover.

St Lawrence’s church in Knodishall had a parish register which began in 1566 but the rector’s date from 1301 with John of Melford. The nave is Norman with medieval stained glass windows from a later period. One of the windows is dedicated to Florence Ellen, wife of Arthur Elworthy. The 15th-century tower has flint facings and was restored in the 19th century. On 7 December 1966, the Church of St Lawrence became a Grade II British listed building. There was no geocache here.

We visited St Margaret’s church at Leiston but it was closed. As we were driving away we saw signs to Leiston Abbey so we went to have a look. It was a ruin under the care of English Heritage and offers free entry. It was the 14th-century remains of an abbey of Premonstratensian canons. We enjoyed walking around the ruins reading the information boards. The remains of the refectory are still largely intact whereas the church is mostly destroyed. Rachael rang to wish me Happy Mothers Day and we had a nice long chat.

Just as we arrived at St James’ church in Dunwick it started raining and continued to do so the entire time we were looking for the headstones, seats and plaques that we needed to collect the eight different numbers for the multi geocache. This took a while and we both looked like drowned rats by the time we finished but we eventually found them all and then discovered the cache right beside where we parked the car. Mike found it before I even got there. The church was warm and comfortable. It had a wooden screen with panels decorated with dried grasses and flowers plus a plain lead lined font and poppyheads on the pews. The really interesting thing is that in the Anglo Saxon period, from the 5th to 11th century Dunwich was the capital of the Kingdom of the East Angles but the harbour and most of the town have since disappeared due to coastal erosion. At its height, it was an international port similar in size to 14th century London. Its decline began in 1286 when a storm surge hit the East Anglian coast followed by a great storm in 1287 and another great storm also in 1287, and it was eventually reduced in size to the village it is today.  Most of the buildings that were present in the 13th-century have disappeared, including all eight churches, and Dunwich is now a small coastal village. The remains of a 13th-century Franciscan priory, Greyfriars, and the Leper Hospital of St James can still be seen. A popular local legend says that, at certain tides, church bells can still be heard from beneath the waves. We awarded a favourite point for the church and the multi as even in the rain it was a great place to visit.

We parked down at the car park beside the sea and were astonished at how many people were there considering it is not the nicest of days. However, the rain had stopped by the time we had eaten our sandwiches and Mike went to find the Pirates Treasure cache. This was a good one as the container was full of doubloons and exciting stash for visiting children. Next, we went to find Hollow Jacks Bones which was a multi involving counting poles to the final. The cache was inside a pole on a chain but had been ‘muggled’. Muggled is when a cache has been found by non-geocachers and destroyed or removed which happens from time to time. Finally, we went to do another multi to Greyfriars Priory up on top of the cliff. We approached from the wrong angle initially but then found the right entrance to the ruins of the Greyfriars priory and collected all the required clues while walking through the woods which was full of snowdrops. The daffodils were close to opening up too, given a bit of warm weather. Near the geocache site was a wall with moss growing on it covered in droplets of water. I took two photographs which I thought came out very well.

We drove home using a different route calling in at St Peter’s in Westleton. The church has a 15th-century octagonal font with lions on the base and a lovely altar cloth embroidered with summer flowers. It also had two organs, a small one and a huge 18th-century chamber organ in the minstrel’s gallery. We spent ages looking for all the headstones that we needed to get the final coordinates but we never did find Lilian Bristow. There were lots of Spalls, Fisks and Rouses though. I tried substituting numbers and finally, after nearly an hour, I realised the cache had been archived. So frustrating!

At All Saints in Darsham, we found a nice easy traditional cache as well as a village sign so we made two quick finds. In the church, there were 2 hatchments and a George IV coat of arms up on the wall. There was a lovely monumental brass in the sanctity floor which looked new even though it is dated 1641. Someone had obviously given it a good polish. The octagonal font had four lions on the base. My favourite part was the beautiful King David stained glass window in yellow, white and red. Stunning!

There is no church micro at St Peter’s church in Yoxford but it was open so we took the opportunity to go inside. There was an amazing collection of 10 hatchments to Elizabeth Fuller d.1780, Thomas Mann d.1669, Thomas Bettes d.1739, Elizabeth Clayton d.1802, Lucretia Blois d.1808, Sir Charles Blois d.1850, Clara Blois d.1847, Sir John Blois d.1810, Rev. Sir Ralph Blois d.1762 and Sir Charles Blois d.1760. There were also two monumental brasses on the walls of the sanctity and three more on the back wall. There were also big wall monuments to the Blois family.

So we ended the day on a high note although I cannot figure out why such a fabulous church did not have a church micro.