An ancient church with bells – but no bell tower


The Church of St Mary the Virgin in Suffolk was built in the late Middle Ages. As you approach it, you find yourself within four walls that are clearly incomplete and have no roof. This is the remnants of the bell tower, which was never completed. The money ran out at the same time that King Henry VIII turned on his chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey. As a temporary measure, the bells were put in a wooden cage of a building where they could be rung by being turned on wooden pulleys. The structure – incredibly – is still there and used.

The church is in the village of Bergholt where the painter Constable lived. During the Tudor period, it was a centre of protestant radicalism and under Catholic Queen Mary – some locals were burnt to death for their faith. If you are ever in England – put this village on your itinerary for a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

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