St Gregory’s Church History
St Gregory’s Church was named after Gregory the Great who was Pope from 590 – 604 AD and the first account of a church can be found in two wills dated 970 and 993. Although no specific mention of St Gregory’s can be found before then,
Alfwin, Bishop of Dunwich died in Sudbury so it can be assumed there was a church there at the time. Before 1066 the Manor of Sudbury belonged to Earl Morcar and the Doomsday Book records that St Gregory’s church possessed 50 acres of arable land and 25 of meadows. After the Earl’s death it was given to the Earl of Gloucester, the youngest son of William the Conqueror. It then passed through the female line to the de Clare family. In the 12th century Amicia de Clare gave advowson (the right of bestowal of a benefice), to the nuns of Eaton in Warwickshire in whose gift it remained until 1374. Simon of Sudbury, then Bishop of London, and his brother John acquired the advowson and gave it to the fellow and Wardens of the college they were founding.
The North Aisle in the present church was built about 1370 and the south aisle about 100 years later. The Chancel is in the late perpendicular period (1400 – 1500) and unusually long. There are 20 15th century oak choir stalls with miserere seat – probably to provide seating for the collegiate body.
All that remains of the rood screen is the lower panels with figures of Saints painted in the middle 19th century. In 1860 the church authorities pronounced St Gregory’s church to be “in very serious decay” and closed it for a while as being dangerous. Mr W Butterfield was commissioned to carry out the restoration.
The tower originally had a peal of six bells but two were added later and in 1821 five of them were replaced. The tower itself was restored in 1978.
The font has an ancient cover from the time of Henry V1. The lofty spire rises in stages to about 3.6 metres (12 feet) and still has its original red and gold paint. The lowest part can be pushed up in a telescopic manner so that the font can be used.
The oak pulpit was given in 1925 by Mr Worthington Church to replace the old, damaged one.
In the vestry is the head of Simon of Sudbury who was executed in 1381.
At the East end of the North Aisle is a slab said to be the resting place of the parents of Simon, Nigel and Sara Theobald. Another slab, with a figure of a Bishop with pastoral staff, is probably for Thomas Jane, Bishop of Norwich, who was buried at St Gregory’s Church in 1500.
The south porch is unusually large and under the same roof as the porch is the Chapel of St Anne.
Thomas Carter who died in 1706 has an inscription on his tomb in Latin which when translated reads:
“Traveller, I will relate a wondrous thing. On the day which the aforesaid Thomas Carter breathed his last, a Sudbury camel passed through the eye of a needle, if thou hast wealth, go do likewise. Farewell.” Thomas Carter
Here are the words of Simon
For more information about Simon click the button > About Simon