Long Stratton St Mary
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St Mary’s church is located in Long Stratton, a small town in Norfolk, right on the A140 Ipswich to Norwich.
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Visiting Long Stratton St Mary
You cannot miss the church of St Mary’s in Long Stratton when you drive from Norwich to Ipswich (or vice versa), as it sits in the centre of this small town right on the A140. It has very limited opening hours (see info-box above), so you have to plan your visit carefully if you want to see the interior.
St Mary has another round tower that started in the 12th century, but had alterations in the 14th century, notably a replacement belfry. A modern parapet surrounds a lead-covered pyramid, crowned with a gilded weather vane. There is a clock on the west side of the tower, which also has a face inside the nave. At the west end of the south side, adjacent to the tower, is a stair turret, reaching to the first floor of the tower, probably added in the 15th century.
The church is large with two aisles, above which are seven clerestory windows on each side. Many of the 15th century windows were replaced in a restoration in 1905. On the north side the aisle extends eastward, overlapping part of the chancel, with a low vestry further east. The chancel was built in the 14th century, but was given Perpendicular windows, with “kennel shape” hood moulds, in the 15th century. The south porch has a flushwork plinth.
The font just inside the door has its top with a band of billets, then empty quatrefoils round the octagonal bowl, and cinquefoiled panels round the stem. On it stands a 17th century font cover, with slender shafts supporting a tester, from which a curving supports a centre finial. In this corner is a doorway to access the tower stair turret. Across the Church, near the north doorway, is a case displaying a Sexton’s Wheel, a metal circle pivoted on two axes, (like a wheel and like a globe), adorned with fleurs-de-lys. It was spun round, and where it stopped indicated on which day to start the Lady Fast (on one of the Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary) of 365 days, or one day a week for seven years, living on bread and water.
The pulpit comes from the 17th century, with the typical arched carvings of that era. In the chancel, against the north wall, is a large monument for Sir Edmund Reeve †1647 and his wife Mary †1657. He is shown lying on his side, wearing the red robes of his office as Judge of Common Pleas in 1639. The figure of his wife lies on her back below. Above them is a long inscription, and at the top is a broken pediment containing their heraldic shield.
The east window has many panels of medieval and foreign glass, arranged by Samuel Yarrington in 1805, with his glass filling the gaps! There are some heads, some angels and many heraldic shields. The centre panel is said to be late 15th century French glass, showing the Baptism of Christ.