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St Andrew, Gedgrave

  Gedgrave barely exists. If people know of it, they know the name; on Orford Town Hall, the noticeboard reads 'Orford and Gedgrave Parish Council'. Having reached Orford, which is itself remote enough, you take a narrow lane down beyond the castle, a mile or so out into the marshes.

Long, straight and ancient, the track runs parallel to the shore off to the east; on this day in late spring, the sky was crystal blue, and butterflies scuttered madly about the hedgerow.

Here, the heathlands disappear into the marshes; but at the end of this track there is a relatively flat, open expanse of land, where the ghosts still walk.

  At the end of the track, there are farm buildings. Nothing medieval; there are modern utility blocks, and a 19th century hall on the rise above. All about is the busy silence of the marshes, haunted calls of birds and shudders of the wind in the reeds.

There was a church here once; nothing remains today. By 1171, St Andrew was here, but, like its namesake across Butley creek in Capel, it was a vicarage of Butley Priory. Perhaps because of this, no trace of either church survives.

John Blatchly reports that it had fallen into disrepair after the dissolution of the monasteries, and was dismantled about 1550.

Now, this gives an extraordinarily short time scale of about 15 years between abandonment and demolition, so one cannot help imagining some deliberate act of destruction rather than mere neglect.

Beyond here, the track becomes a footpath leading deep into the marshes, to Butley creek. There, a lone ferryman may take you across to isolated Capel St Andrew. These remaining ways are silent shadows of an ancient land, lost ghosts of the past.

Gedgrave Hall.

To reach the site of St Andrew, Gedgrave, take the road down past Orford Castle from the market square. Turn right into a narrow lane, and follow it for about a mile. When you reach the end of it, St Andrew was on your left. OS map reference 405486.