The tour enters Mid Suffolk about noon and goes through Walsham-le-Willows, Finningham, Thornham Magna, Thornham Parva, Eye, Horham and Stradbroke.
Did you know that in St. Mary’s Church the reredos depicting the Last Supper was created by the famous Victorian English ceramic artist, George Tinworth, in 1883? Discover this and many other historic buildings and sites in Walsham-le-Willows by following a historic walking trail found here.
Why not visit St Batholomew’s Church which dates to the 14th Century? The church is associated with the Frere family and includes a monument to Sir John Fenn [1739–1794] and his wife, Ellenor Fenn nee Frere. Sir John Fenn was an antiquarian and known for collecting, editing and publishing the Paston letters and Ellenor Fenn was a pioneering educator in the 18th century. The marble monument was created by Francis Bacon the elder and shows a woman weeping over a chest.
Owned by the Henniker-Major family, the Thornham Estate offers walks around the parkland and ancient woodland all year round. Discover the walled garden, pets’ cemetery and pinetum. The original Tudor Thornham Hall burnt down in 1954 and was rebuilt in 1956. The Victorian stables and water tower, however, still survive and can be seen on the estate. Discover more about the family and estate by exploring the Henniker Family Papers, 1341-2013, [Ref HA116] held at Ipswich Record Office.
Located in St. Mary’s Church, Thornham Parva, is the largest and most complete medieval altarpiece in Britain, the Thornham Parva Retable. Dated to 1330s, the retable is a painted oak altarpiece measuring 12 feet long and is thought to have originally been made for Thetford Priory in Norfolk. It was rediscovered in 1927 in the loft above the stable at Thornham Hall and was soon after installed in St. Mary’s Church.
While in Eye, why not visit the ruins of Eye Castle, which is one of the few surviving motte-and-bailey castles from the early Norman period, or admire the rood screen in St Peter and St Paul’s Church. In 1643/44, the church was visited by Puritanical Vandals including William Dowsing to inspect the church and destroy and deface religious images classed as heretical. In his journal regarding this visit, he states ‘seven superstitious pictures in the chancel, and a cross, one was Mary Magdalene, all in glass, and six in the church windows’ were destroyed at Eye. Though he states that much was destroyed before his visit to the church the rood screen at Eye is in surprisingly good condition considering this visit.
During World War 2, RAF Horham was home to the 95th American Bomb Group from 1943 to the end of the war. They were famous for being the first US group to bomb Berlin during daylight and receiving three Distinguished Unit Citations. They flew more than 300 missions and when the war ended helped transport liberated prisoners back to the UK. Learn more about the group by visiting the 95th Bomb Group website and museum.
Discover the Stradbroke Village Archive and explore a photographic archive of the village. Launched in 2014, the website includes many images of the village’s buildings, people and events held at the village.
During our digitisation of wills, which can now be purchased online via our website, we discovered the beautiful 1747 will of Catherine Newson of Stradbroke.