Monday, 21 January 2019

Felixstowe St John the Baptist or St Andrews?

St Johns or St Andrews - a very good question.

Before I went to the church I called in to see my cousin and her husband who have recently moved here. "Which Church are you going to" asked my cousin. " The one in the town" I said and I THOUGHT I knew exactly where I was going "How many are there?" I asked and A told me of the one just along the road from their home and the one just off the main shopping street. "I'm sure it's the one nearest the town" I said and went and parked in the town centre car park and looked at the book
and found I should have been at the church near their home. DUH! In my defence  - the page of the book about St Johns didn't have a picture of the exterior and also didn't have the road name BUT I should have looked at the book earlier in the day!

Anyway this is St John the Baptist in Orwell Road and not St Andrews ( which is a strange concrete building) in St Andrews Rd.

Not an old flint church like so many I've visited but an early 20th century brick  church built for the expanding population of Suffolk's main seaside town. The spire soars 130 feet above the town.

Lovely and warm  inside............there was a notice saying the heating was on so Please Shut the Door.
The lights were switched on around the choir stalls and and Altar but the rest of the church was very dark

and my photos are dreadfully poor. Much better photos on the Suffolk Churches website HERE   where there are close up photos of all the Saints featured in the stained glass windows on both sides of the church.

The reason this church has a page in the 100 treasures book is because whereas many churches have 14  Stations of the Cross around the church, St John has 16. They are all simply etched onto slate and fixed to the pillars

Some are much smaller

Here's some more Saints

The highly decorated carved  Font cover made by an Ipswich craftsman in 1912

I think this church should feature in the book as the only Suffolk Church to be mentioned in a poem by John Betjeman

Felixstowe, or The Last of Her Order.

With one consuming roar along the shingle
The long wave claws and rakes the pebbles down
To where its backwash and the next wave mingle,
A mounting arch of water weedy-brown
Against the tide the off-shore breezes blow.
Oh wind and water, this is Felixstowe.

In winter when the sea winds chill and shriller
Than those of summer, all their cold unload
Full on the gimcrack attic of the villa
Where I am lodging off the Orwell Road,
I put my final shilling in the meter
And only make my loneliness completer.

In eighteen ninety-four when we were founded,
Counting our Reverend Mother we were six,
How full of hope we were and prayer-surrounded
"The Little Sisters of the Hanging Pyx".
We built our orphanage. We built our school.
Now only I am left to keep the rule.

Here in the gardens of the Spa Pavillion
Warm in the whisper of the summer sea,
The cushioned scabious, a deep vermillion,
With white pins stuck in it, looks up at me
A sun-lit kingdom touched by butterflies
And so my memory of the winter dies.

Across the grass the poplar shades grow longer
And louder clang the waves along the coast.
The band packs up. The evening breeze is stronger
And all the world goes home to tea and toast.
I hurry past a cakeshop's tempting scones
Bound for the red brick twilight of St.John's.

"Thou knowest my down sitting and mine uprising"
Here where the white light burns with steady glow
Safe from the vain world's silly sympathising,
Safe with the love I was born to know,
Safe from the surging of the lonely sea
My heart finds rest, my heart finds rest in Thee


I'd planned to go around the charity shops in Felixstowe - There are Lots - but the weather was freezing so I only did a few and found nothing. I also planned to go in the Bookshop and put my name down for a brochure about the Book Festival held in the town at the end of June every year (they sponsor the festival) but they were closed for the week for holidays. I'd already asked my cousin to look out for a brochure for me nearer the time, so hopefully she will spot one for me. Last year I was able to pick one up at the Tourist Information Centre in Stowmarket but funding for TICs has been cut and like most of the others in Suffolk the Stow one closed at Christmas.

Back Tomorrow


  1. Quite a grand church - the wood screen by the choir stalls is very intricate. Shame it was so cold and that the TIC's are closing down everywhere - we have the same problem when we go up to Scotland as it is difficult to find the local information now if you don't have the paper every week.

  2. A lovely church with a lot of stained glass. I was brought up married at St.Johns church in Isleworth, Middlesex.
    Hazel c uk

  3. Beautiful church-it actually looks warm and inviting.

  4. What a beautiful Church, the font and the stained glass were a delight.

  5. Thank you for that lovely poem (I'd not read it before). A beautiful church for its stained glass and the stations of the cross. The font is beautifully crafted too. It never fails to amaze me how many people have such wonderful creative skills down the centuries.

    A shame you didn't find the charity shops forthcoming with delights, but I'm sure there will be some on another day, another town.

  6. Sue, there is absolutely no need to “put your name down for a brochure” for the Felixstowe Book Festival, you will find all the information up in the internet. Just google it. The programme has not yet been announced

    1. I know that it's on line but I actually like to look through it a few times to decide and it's much easier with the booklet and I know the programme isn't out yet.

    2. If something is on line I try to use that rather than create more waste. I find the website quite user friendly.

  7. Sue, as a Suffolk girl born and bred, but now living in London, I love your blog.
    Today’s was especially interesting - I went to Felixstowe Grammar school (mm, least said the better). Living near Ipswich we would visit Felixstowe often. My mum and I, in later years would visit all the charity shops, and the book shop called “Poor Richard” (yes, it really was called that!)
    Thank you for your smashing blog.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. I think Poor Richards is still there, I didn't walk down that far and round the corner to see. The other second hand bookshop is HUGE. It's the bookshop that sells new that supplies all the books for the festival. Just announced that M&S in Felixstowe is closing - sad news for many

  8. It's so delightful! I must admit that I do overlook churches. There are so many wonderful ones around Suffolk. Thanks for showing us a few!

  9. A beautiful church. I love the stained glass windows of the saints.

    God bless.

  10. That is a beautiful church, and thank you for sharing. I know this is one of the "newer" churches you have shown, but in much of the US, there aren't many buildings much older than this. The town I was brought up in, Saratoga Springs in New York State, has many historic buildings. Most of them date only to the mid or late 19th century. That is something I believe is so different about living here as compared to living in England or Europe. Our sense of time is different. When I've visited England or France I've felt a part of a long history because of the age of buildings that are commonplace. Very hard to explain but I think it can give a different outlook on life.

    1. Yes a much newer church - 600 years newer than some!

  11. That's such a lovely church! I love Felixstowe. My grandparents owned a flat there (which my Dad now owns) and so I spent much happy time there. Haven't been to stay at the flat since February 2019 so I think I am due a return visit soon!