Heritage Open Day Walks In Woodbridge

St Mary's Church by Janice Poulson

As part as Heritage Open Day 2020, Woodbridge Rotary Club has organised two walks through historic Woodbridge on September 19 and 20.

Both walks will start with Covid-19 registration for Track and Trace outside Woodbridge Station from 10am. With the new regulations announced on 9 September, we will operate the walks in groups of five with a guide. We currently awaiting further information from the HODS central team in London on what is and is not possible.

The first walk on Saturday 19 will take the walkers to visit the historic ecclesiastical sites of Woodbridge, from Saxon foundation parish church to non-conformist chapels to Catholicism restoration and Victorian expansion.

The walk will visit:
• Quay Chapel – the oldest chapel in Woodbridge, originally built in 1688. In 1915/16 the children’s author Enid Blyton taught in the Sunday School.
• The Friends Meeting House – now a private residence was built in 1678. We will walk in the adjoining graveyard, which is now a designated Quiet Place, and look for the grave of Bernard Barton (a Quaker poet).
• St. Mary’s Church – The Domesday Book records in 1086 that there was “A church with 19 acres valued at 2 shillings”. The current building was built in the late tenth century in the perpendicular style, with flintwork facing
• St. John’s Church – with an increase in the town’s population in the late 1830s, a new CoE church was built to handle the additional population. Now the centre of the town’s Victorian conservation area.
• St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church – originally the town’ Assembly rooms. In 1929, the Diocese of Northampton purchased the building and it was transformed into a classical church.
• Methodist Church – The first Methodist Church in Woodbridge was an old warehouse in Brook Street in 1828. The current building was opened in 1872.

The second walk on Sunday 20 will take the walkers to visit the historic inns of Woodbridge, including 13th oldest pub in England, a pub where ale has been sold since the 12th Century and was the town brothel. The walk will show how the inns from Tudor times have adapted through the ages to today.

The walk will visit:
• The Anchor – the last survivor of three inns that served the shipbuilding industry of the town. It has a Tudor wing and other parts of the building date back to the 17th century.
• Ye Olde Bell and Steelyard – dates from 1540 around the time the New Street was built and is believed to be the 13th oldest pub in England. The timber-framed steelyard was used for weighing carts.
• The Bull – mentioned in the records of 1734. Edward FitzGerald drank here, and the first Omar Khayyam dinners were held here. Since last year additional parts of the earliest building have been found.
• The Kings Head – named not after your usual kings but Suffolk’s own saintly King – St. Edmund. The building dates from the late 15th/early 16th century.
• The Angel – building dates from the 16th century, though there’s evidence of a pub on this site as long ago as the 12th century. The current building was built in 1678. Once was also the town’s brothel.

Woodbridge Rotary club would like to acknowledge the help and co-operation of all the churches and inns involved in the walk.

For more details for the Church Walk please visit: www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/woodbridge-eccclesiastical-walk-2020

And for details of the Historic Inns walk visit: www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/woodbridge-historic-inns-walk-2020

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