THE ECCLESIASTICAL PARISHES
The five ecclesiastical parishes are in South Suffolk situated on the north Essex border five miles due north of the market town of Colchester.
The benefice is in the diocese of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich and is part of the Hadleigh deanery.
PARISH OF LEAVENHEATH ST MATTHEW
St. Matthew’s church is a small, attractive Victorian chapel built about 140 years ago. A significant amount of work has been done in recent years to deal with issues such as woodworm and rot to improve the usability of the church. New heating and lighting systems have been installed. Further improvements are planned. There is no churchyard. St. Matthews’s church can accommodate 60 worshipers
VISITORS INFORMATION: POST CODE: CO6 4PT
St. Matthew’s is situated in a hollow on the A134 100 yards south of Harrow Street. There is limited parking at the front of the building, visitors attending services may park on the greensward south of the main entrance. The Church is open daily.
THE PARISH OF NAYLAND ST JAMES
The present grade 1 listed building was built c. 1400 and seats about 250 people. There is a well maintained graveyard. The church is situated in the centre of the village and is in good repair.
VISITORS INFORMATION: POST CODE: CO6 4JE
The Church enjoys a magnificent refurbished organ – The “William Jones Organ” which is regularly played by a voluntary organist for the enhancement of our services. Visitors are warmly welcome to attend our Church. Parking is available in the centre of the village and in the adjacent Village Hall car park.
PARISH OF POLSTEAD ST MARY
St. Mary’s church is an extremely interesting grade 1 listed medieval building, dating from the mid-twelfth century, in an exceptionally beautiful setting overlooking the box valley situated in the Dedham vale area of outstanding natural beauty. The church building is in good condition and in an excellent state of decoration. The churchyard is well maintained and has recently been extended with assistance from the friends of Polstead church.
VISITORS INFORMATION: POST CODE: CO6 5BS
Polstead is an exceptionally picturesque village in a mainly rural area. St. Mary’s has glorious views and the interior is worth a visit, especially the rear Norman brick arches and much reused Roman material. The Church is located up a steep slope by an unmade lane leading from the road at the bottom end of The Pool. Parking is very limited amongst the trees at the top of the lane therefore most visitors are recommended to park on the lower road by The Pool.
STOKE BY NAYLAND CHURCH
PARISH OF STOKE BY NAYLAND, ST MARY
The church has origins in the 12th century. Its most visible feature is the 120 foot tower. It is one of the great wool churches of Suffolk and has three stars in England’s thousand best churches by Simon Jenkins. Considerable sums have been spent on the church in recent years, including a new heating system, loos and kitchen area, restored monuments, renovation of the reredos and a new organ case and lectern.
St. Mary’s church can accommodate 300 worshipers and has a well maintained graveyard
VISITORS INFORMATION: POST CODE: CO6 4QU
Visitors are warmly welcomed to attend the services at St Mary’s. If you are considering a weekend in the Dedham Vale why not attend our Sunday morning service in this magnificent building which is the subject of the last painting by John Constable? (The painting was recently exhibited at the Tate Gallery). For those who appreciate music there are frequent concerts arranged by the Friends of the church. At night the imposing height of the church can be seen from many miles away through the floodlight scheme, whereby sponsors can commemorate a happy event or remember a loved one by paying £6 to have the church floodlit for an evening. The event will be recorded in the Parish Newsletter and in the commemoration book in the church. Dedicated ramblers will find the church on the Stour Valley Path that runs between Haverhill and Manningtree. There is a large car park on the adjacent village recreation ground available to visitors who attend the church.
THE PARISH OF WISSINGTON ST MARY
St Mary’s is a small Norman church situated near the river Stour. A charter shows that it was definitely in existence by 1135 but may well be older. There is a well maintained churchyard.
The ecclesiastical parish of Wiston (or Wissington) is a separate parish and is part of the civil parish of Nayland. Up to 100 worshipers can be accommodated in the church.
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The building is grade 1 listed situated adjacent to Wiston Hall. The Church is known for its beauty and simplicity, and its peaceful surroundings. The Stour Valley Footpath passes close by the churchyard making it a welcome stop for walkers. It is of Norman tripartite design, with a nave, chancel and apse and has two elaborate Norman Chancel arches and small windows in the north wall. Visitors consider St Mary’s a “Hidden gem and a place of tranquillity” There is adequate parking at the church Visitors are requested to use the parking area signposted just before the church. The Church is normally open, locking and unlocking carried out by local volunteers.