Churches of (fictional) Dunwich
The Medieval Guilds of Dunwich (which persist to this day in the form of businessmens clubs and dominate the local Chamber of Commerce) derive their names from the major parish churches of Dunwich. The most important ecclesiastical building is clearly the Gothic Cathedral dedicated to Our Lady Stella Maris (Star of the Sea). The current Bishop of Dunwich is the Right Reverend Robert Curtaigne, who sits in the House of Lords, and the Dean is the Rev. Harold Wyke. The Cathedral was established by Saint Felix. The Bishop of Dunwich appointed by Sigebert, he met Sigebert in France. The Pope Honorius authorised Felix as Bishop of East Anglia. He is an obscure saint, but his cult was popular in Soham, cambridgeshire, from where his remainswere taaken out of East Anglia during a relic raid by a rival monastery in the Middle Ages. A
Native Burgundian his own copy of the gospel, written in Lombard
characters, was held at Eye for centuries and oaths sworn upon it - it was
known as the Red Book of Eye. His feast day is March 8th.
The Cathedral also contains the Shrine of St. Sigebert, King of East Anglia, who retired to the monastic life at Bury st
Edmunds in 635. When the pagan King of the Mercians, Penda, invaded, he
was forced against his will to lead the army. He chose to ride unarmed
but for an ash wand, and was slain on the field of battle, a true and holy
pacificistic martyr. His feast day is January 25th, and he is patron Saint of Dunwich.
The Cathedral is worthy of its own entry, which will follow when I find the time.
St. Crispins - dedicated in 1415, the Church was destroyed during the Zeppellin raid of March 1918 by an inciendary bomb. Parts of the walls of the nave and graveyard survive, and it is a popular picnic spot in the park. A memorial tablet lists all those who lost their lfe in the raid, and who sacrificed their lives in two world wars.
All Saints - dates from 1074, but was extensively remodelled in the 18th century, and then in the 1890s. Boasts a fine spire built by the subscription of the East Suffolk hunt in 1883 to facilitate Steeplechasing and finding their way home in foggy weather!
St Leonards, another Norman Church which stood to the south of the town was almost destroyed by the Great Storm of1287 but finally lost when it collapsed following the Great East Anglian Earthquake of 1884, which led to the cliff crumbling and the Church partially falling in ot the sea. Now only the tower remains and part of the strcture, the nave falling a few inches a year in to the sea.
St. Werburgha's - probably named after St. Witheburga, who had a shrine at East Dereham in Norfolk, where the
churchyard features St Witheburga's well, with a repuation as a healing
well. Her legend states that a white doe used to furnish her with milk,
and she is always depicted with the white deer.
Her body was taken under unusual circumstances, in 974, when Abbot
Brithnoth of Ely led a party of armed men to Dereham, and threw a great
feast. having got the folk of Dereham drunk they then stole the Saint's
body and fled, and reached Brandon by the time the outraged citizens of
Dereham caught up. they escaped with their lives and the Saint by leaping
in a boat and sailing away, while the men of Dereham gave chase along the
banks and harried them with spears, darts and arrows. They made their
escape however, and St Witheburga now lies in Ely Cathedral. Such was the
nature of some Dark Age piety! The oldest Church in Dunwich. This Saxon Church was rebuilt after the Norman Conquest and is Dunwich's oldest surviving church.
St. Martins - a town centre Church which today is the location for the Dunwich Museum of Maritime Life, having finally closed as a place of worship in the 1950s. It was rebuilt following the collapse of its tower in the Great Storm of 1287, and is a fine example of late 13th century ecclesiastical architecture, whose interior boasts unusual window designs and carvings.
St.Edmunds (formerly St. Nicholas) - today a Roman Catholic Church, it was bought by the Catholics in 1848 and rededicated amidst scenes of protest and a riot which led to much ill feeling for many years.
St. John the Baptist is a fine medieval church with some fine glass, particular the North Window. It is the scene of the annual Midsummer bonfire, a Dunwich tradition where locals burn "Bad Abbott Grey" in effigy and participate in much drunken celebration. Abbott Grey was the last Prior of the Blackfriar's Priory, and was popularly believed to be a sorceror in league with the devil prior to his execution dutring the Reformation.
St.Peters - today one of the largest congregations in Dunwich, owing the Charismatic (and charismatic) preaching of the Reverend Baines. If youlike electric guitars and choruses in Church, this is the church for you.
St. Micheals is now a Methodist Chapel,noted for its fine choir. The modern building is a redbrick Victorian structure, the former building having fallen in to disrepair in the early 18th century.
Temple Church - once one of the churches of the Knights Templars, the building was rennovated in the 18th century and the fine dome dates from taht period. Declared redundant in 1932 it is now home to Dunwich's Masonic Lodge who are well known for their acts of charity, and who posess a women's auxillary.
St Bartholomew' is the Chapel attached to the Private School. The fine tombs and memorial brasses of the Grisham family can be viewed by arrangement with the Bursar's Office.
St. Simeons is a modern Roman Catholic church on the Ipswich Way Council Estate.
Bethesda Pentecostal is a modern Church withan enthusiastic flock which meet in central Dunwich.
There is also a Church of Latter Day Saints ("Mormon") on Sea Way.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) maintain a meeting house on Walberswick Road.