St Mary’s the Virgin – In the Parish of Belstead A building and land was first mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086, with the existing structure originating over 700 years ago. The current building stands on high ground approximately half a mile from the village of Belstead.
St Mary’s remains in regular use for worship, weddings, christenings etc., having survived at least 2 major assaults, one in the 16th century during the Anglican reforms, and the second in the 17th century through the Cromwellian governments zeal in removing any traces of ‘idolatrousimagery’.
In 2004 the authorities had decided through lack of use that the Church be made redundant, and early 2005 the process was well in hand. In May 2005 as the result of a ‘popular uprising’ by parish residents, and ‘Friends of St Mary’s’, we now have a community asset that is well supported, with regular services, concerts and related activities. Thanks to the efforts of parishioners, St Mary's has a program of repairs and improvements well in hand. The grounds are well kept, with seating to accommodate those who simply wish to sit, talk and relax.
Graves & memorials have been identified from 1611 onwards by our village historian. The building is of simple design, unpretentious and attractively rustic, the tower dates from the early 14th century, and is one of only 22 Suffolk towers which form porches. The interior is graced with a number of fittings and memorials dating from its earliest days, including the 15th century rood screen with paintings of saints and others, all of which were mutilated by tudor reformers or later by puritans in the 1640’s, a rood loft staircase set into the thickness of the outer wall, brass rubbings, and wooden pews.
Visitors are warmly invited to share the delights of our Church, however St Mary’s is kept locked whilst not in use, although entry can be arranged via the Church Wardens.