At the sign of the Barking lion...

Holy Trinity, Stowupland

At the sign of the Barking lion...

home index e-mail what's new? - a journey through the churches of Suffolk


Stowupland Stowupland Stowupland
Stowupland Stowupland

this church was erected   In the first few decades of the 19th century, there was a great enthusiasm for building cheap, plain churches to supply the needs of the increasing population in those areas affected by the Industrial Revolution. The extent to which industrialism had touched Suffolk by this time can be judged by the fact that of all the hundreds of churches recommended and approved by the government commission, only two of them were built in Suffolk. Both are dedicated to the Holy Trinity; one is in Ipswich, and the other one is here in the eastern suburbs of Stowmarket.

Most of the so-called Commissioners Churches were built in a style often described as 'Carpenter Gothic', on a low budget by local architects and labour. Although they did not have a uniform plan, most of them came out broadly similar, with a wide, boxy nave, a perfunctory chancel, and a simple tower, often topped by a little spire. Hundreds were built, and many are still in use. This one cost a very reasonable 1500, about 300,000 in today's money. Much of the cost was defrayed by the Marquis of Bristol.

Dedicated by the Bishop of Norwich on August 30th 1843, Holy Trinity was actually quite late for a church of this kind; far away in Oxford, the Tractarians were beginning to change the world, with their advocacy of a Church of England returned to its Catholic roots. Coupled with the work of the Cambridge Camden Society, they would turn the Church upside down in the next twenty years, and the result would be a succession of expensive and glorious Gothic temples, carefully tailored to the needs of sacramentalism. Already at Bury St Edmunds up the road, another church paid for by the Marquis of Bristol, St John the Evangelist, was rearing its fantastic spire into the sky; the turrets cluster below it in a mixture of Early English and Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria. Even here, the architect Thomas Nelson shows the influence of burgeoning medievalist ideas; his windows have little Early English points.

The church sits on the main road in this busy suburb of Stowmarket, looking most attractive. The main material is Woolpit brick, as at Holy Trinity, Ipswich; it has mellowed rather more successfully here. There is a modern extension to the building to the east, marked with a plaque unveiled by the Mayor of Stowmarket in 1984. You enter the church from the west, and here in the porch is the original foundation board, beginning This church was erected 1843. It contains 250 sittings,and in consequence of a grant from "The Incorporated Society for promoting the enlargement, building and repairing of Churches and Chapels", the whole of that number are hereby declared to be free and unappropriated forever.

You step into a wide, light space under the western gallery, and to the right is the recut 15th century font from Creeting All Saints, where the church was demolished 40 years before this one was built. It apparently spent the intervening period as a birdbath at Ringshall Rectory.

The white walls and red carpets create a sober effect, and many of the furnishings were replaced in a more seemly style in the 1930s to the designs of Munro Cautley, the Diocesan Architect. The high chancel arch with the small chancel and east window beyond is very effective, and it is flanked by two surprises. One is the pulpit, which is paneled with scenes which must have come from a huge 17th Century Flemish altar. On the other side is the parish war memorial, designed in the familiar style of Ellen Rope, whose elegant work can be found at many Suffolk Anglican and Catholic churches.

  to the glory of God

Simon Knott, July 2009

pulpit looking east looking west war memorial by Ellen Rope

Stowupland Stowupland Stowupland Stowupland died suddenly

Amazon commission helps cover the running costs of this site.