This is a church I ought to know well but don't.
I was Christened here and went to primary school just across the road and in my early teens we used to take a short cut through the church yard went we went to' hang about' on the common.
But I went to the Baptist Church up the road not the C of E church and even though the school was a church aided school we only went there for nativity plays and I've only been in a few times since the 1960s.
Very smart new gates erected just recently to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee
The hammerbeam roof attracted the attention of parliamentary commissioner and iconoclast William Dowsing, who came this way on Monday February 5th, 1644, looking for evidence of ritualist worship. His role, which was largely self-appointed, was to strip the churches of the apparatus installed under the Laudian regime of the 1630s, as well as of surviving features that had been missed by the iconoclasts during the Reformation of a century earlier. Most parishes took this task on for themselves, but some didn't. Dowsing was particularly wary of parishes that had 'scandalous ministers' - that is to say, theological liberals - as rectors. That late winter Monday was a particularly busy day for Dowsing. Like all good puritans he rested on the Sabbath, but he had planned a preliminary tour of Cambridgeshire for the following week. Trevor Cooper, the editor of the new edition of the Dowsing Journals, suggests that on this, the final day of his initial Suffolk tour, he may have carried with him some inkling of the enormity of his task.
Dowsing had set off from Needham Market that morning, travelling over the fields to Badley (an identical journey can be made today) and then on into Stowmarket. It must have been about lunchtime that he arrived in Wetherden, having bypassed Haughley. He probably knew that there would be much to do here, for the Sulyards of Haughley Park were recusants, and their influence was a strong and obstructive one. He planned to deal with Elmswell and Tostock later in the afternoon, before arriving in Bury, where he would spend the night. Even so, with the help of some very sympathetic churchwardens, he was also able to survey the two huge Bury churches of St Mary and St James before the day was out. In all, he would deal with eight churches this day. His tour that Monday involved a journey of some twenty miles. This is good going, on a February day when the light fades early, on horseback in the days before proper roads. In his journal, he records his activities at Wetherden: We brake 100 superstitious pictures in Sr Edward Silliard's eile; and gave order to break down 60 more; and to take down 68 cherubims; and to levell the steps in the chancell; there was takeing up 19 superstitious inscriptions, that weighed 65 pounds.
So, in the space of an hour or so, St Mary underwent a thorough restructuring. It is interesting to differentiate between the work that Dowsing carries out himself, and that which he delegates to deputies and churchwardens. The superstitious pictures were in stained glass, in the windows. Dowsing himself destroyed all of those in the aisle, but not sixty others - perhaps these were awkward to reach, or perhaps the churchwardens asked if they could leave them until it was possible to replace them with plain glass. He also ordered the taking down of cherubims - these were the angels on the roof hammer beams, the work of several days, and something he felt safe to delegate, along with the removal of the chancel steps installed by the Laudians a decade earlier.