The leading body conserving England's most beautiful and historic churches which are no longer needed for regular worship. It promotes public enjoyment of these churches, and encourages their use as an educational and community resource.
The Trust owns many Churches of historic, architectural or archaeological importance in Suffolk. Many of the churches are open all year round, others have keyholdrs nearby; all are free to enter. A notice regarding opening arrangements will be on the church or you can call us or visit our website for specific access information.
Visitors are most welcome and we appreciate whatever support you can offer to help us save and restore these beautiful places for you.
Join our supporters. Help fund projects. Get involved with communities across the country. See our website for details. St Peter's, Sudbury
This magnificent church, built as a chapel-of-ease, is imposingly set on market Hill and dominated the centre of this lovely town. It is largely a 15th century rebuilding of a much earlier structure, and the tower dates from 1460-85. Carved oak north and south doors, the creens, the font, stonecarvings and two paintings of Moses and Aaron by Robert Cardinal are of particular note.
The interior was restored by Butterfield in 1854-58 and a chancel refurbished and redecorated by Bodley in 1897 are examples of distinguished Victorian work.
The structure of St Peter's Church is largely Perpendicular in style and much of the building dates to the second half of the 15th century. However, in the 19th century the church was restored and redecorated on two occasions, first in the 1850s, by the architect William
Butterfield (1814 - 1900) and then, in the late 1890s, by the architect G.F Bodley (1827 - 1907). Both architects were leading figures in the Gothic Revival movement, and appear to have decorated the church in an ornate style thought to reflect its original, medieval,
St Peter's was again restored in the late 1960s, and the elaborate Victorian decoration, which was by this time considered vulgar and unfashionable, was mostly hidden beneath layers of white paint. Little is known of Butterfield’s decorative scheme, but other examples of his work at this period suggest that it would have been based on decorative motifs such as masonry pattern and scrollwork considered to be medieval in style. Some fragments of Bodley’s decoration survived the repainting and can be seen on the chancel arch and nave east wall, (above) as well as on the nave and chancel roofs. A number of photographs of the interior of the church prior to the 1960s also survive, but while these give a general impression of the type of design, details are hard to determine.
However, from what is visible, it is possible to see that Bodley used designs at St Peter's that he had employed in other churches. The decoration over the chancel arch in Sudbury has a close parallel to that used at All Saints' Church, Jesus Lane in Cambridge, built to his design in the 1860s. A similar design was again used in the redecoration of the Old Hall at Queens College Cambridge in c.1875. The central pair of angels over the chancel arch at St Peter's also appear strikingly similar to those at Queens College Chapel of c.1890. Most remarkable however are the altar cloth and curtains in Queens College Chapel, the design of which is more or less identical to that used for the cushions on the sedilia at St Peter's.
Due to the condition of the plaster and the paint layer, uncovering the Victorian decoration at St Peter's would be a costly and possibly damaging exercise. In order to provide an insight into how the original Bodley scheme might have looked, a detailed measured survey and paint analysis has been carried out in the area of the sedilia and, using sections of design from Bodley's other schemes, a digital reconstruction has been undertaken by Tobit Curteis of TC Associates. While the exact design of certain areas of painting and some of the colours may not be precise reflections of the original, it is hoped that this will give an impression of the ornate and sumptuous decoration that would have filled the church in the closing years of the 19th century.
Other Suffolk Churches of the Churches Conservation Trust
Akenham, St Mary
Badley, St Mary
Bungay, St Mary
Chilton, St Mary
Claydon, St Peter
Covehithe, St Andrew
Ellough, All Saints
Ickingham, All Saints
Ipswich, St Mary-at-theQuay
Little Wenham, All Saints
Newton Green, All Saints
Redgrave, St Mary
Rickinghall Superior, St Mary
Sapiston, St Andrew
South Elmham, All Saints
Stanton, St John the Baptist
Stonham Parva, St Mary the Virgin
Washbrook, St Mary
Wordwell, All Saints
For more local information, please see:Sudbury Guide