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A Story from St Mary’s, Lakenheath

For hundreds of years, carved wooden angels have lined the roof at St Mary’s Church in Lakenheath. If they could speak, what stories might they have to tell us?

This story by Sarah Brady of Performance and Pen Storytelling is an imagined retelling of what might have happened at St Mary’s Church in Lakenheath during the destruction of the Reformation in the 1540s.

The story was developed in partnership with St Mary’s Lakenheath and Lakenheath Heritage Group.

Sit back and close your eyes, and let Sarah take you on a journey back to the 16th century.

Suffolk Archives · A story from St Mary’s, Lakenheath

You might like to know… A rood is a large cross or crucifix set above the entry to the chancel (where the altar is) A rood screen is a decorative screen made of wood or stone between the nave (where the congregation gathered) and the chancel A rood loft is a gallery on top of the rood screen for singersThis story is partially told from the point of view of Robert Upton, who was vicar of Lakenheath from 1541-1557, during a time of enormous religious upheaval that had a huge impact on the lives of ordinary people. Upton’s time as vicar in Lakenheath began in the last years of Henry VIII, who had broken with the Roman Catholic faith, and began to convert England into a Protestant country. His son, Edward VI, continued this work with even more zeal; during his reign, there was a concentrated effort to destroy the religious images in churches which had been such an important part of medieval worship. The last years that Upton spent in Lakenheath were during the reign of Mary I, who did her utmost to reverse the changes made by Edward and Henry and restore the Catholic faith.

During these years of religious upheaval local communities faced difficult decisions. Did they comply with the new laws, or did they try to find a way to protect their precious religious items from destruction?

You can find out more about the fascinating history of Lakenheath church and the changes it underwent during the Reformation on the Lakenheath Wall Paintings Project website.