The Alde River Benefice
The Benefice is set within a predominantly rural area of villages and farmland. The working life of the Benefice can be described as generations of farmers, established family businesses, thriving market towns, tourism, new and evolving industries, diversification and bustling High streets and independent traders alongside national chains. Many towns have a regular market. Food, drink and music make pubs a focal point for communities where people can get together with friends and neighbours and also meet new people who visit the area.
Church members regularly work alongside members of their communities organising activities such as the Alde Valley Classics, Luncheon Club for our senior citizens, the Benhall Daffodil Show and many other church fetes and activities.
St Mary’s Church, Benhall
We offer a warm welcome at St Mary’s, Benhall. We are a prayerful church and have a congregation of good singers willing and able to take part in any of our services.
We are proud of our church being active in our local community and are involved with regular events such as the Daffodil Show, Benhall Flower Show, Walled Garden Teas, Open Gardens, Harvest Supper and Christmas Bazaar as well as various musical and entertainment evenings. All of our activities take the church into the community and bring the community into the church. We are involved with united church activities such as the Lunch Club, Women’s Fellowship and the Alde Valley Classic Cars event. We are keen on getting the church into the local community and helping to bring people together.
We have Rogation, Epiphany and Christingle services and create special services to attract people into church who wouldn’t usually come. We believe that our community events balanced with regular worship makes our church vibrant. Our building is Grade 2 listed and in good repair and we have recently installed a modern kitchen and toilet so that people can have tea, coffee, biscuits and a chat after the services.
Our local school Benhall St Mary’s CEVC is a friendly and nurturing school and has two PCC members on the Governing Body. A window in our church was designed by the children and ‘Open the Book’ volunteers visit the school on a fortnightly basis. The whole school comes into church for a variety of services such as the Harvest and Easter experience. Hannah our organist works with the school choir who sing at the Christingle and Nativity services.
St Peter’s Church Blaxhall
St Peter’s aim is to be a spiritual focal point for all in the Parish and a place where anyone and everyone is welcome.
Our vision is for a parish where community spirit is a meaningful and substantial feature of life, and where there is tangible engagement of the Church within the community.
The services are a mix of Morning Prayer, Holy Communion, BCP and Common Worship. St Peter’s has a loyal following for special services from across a large area – the 2013 Carol Service attracting 150. The PCC believes new initiatives are needed for Benefice-wide opportunities for worship and fellowship.
The Church is open every day. The kitchen facilities with refreshments and disabled toilet make St Peter’s a user-friendly space for visitors and regular attendees alike.
The Patronal Festival is combined with a flower festival and a wide range of activities in and around the Church, including extensive catering, and is coordinated with an Art Exhibition at the Village Hall. These combined village events bring many villagers, visitors and returnees to Blaxhall and to St Peter’s.
A Benefice-wide fortnightly House Group meets in Blaxhall. Participation in a Benefice-wide Lent Course is a hoped-for continuing feature. Church members organise the monthly Community Coffee Morning held in the YHA Hostel (now developing into a breakfast/lunch club). Church members contribute to the ‘Open the Book’ team. There is a collection point in the church for contributions to the East Suffolk Foodbank which has been extended to the Blaxhall YHA Hostel.
A programme of ongoing repairs to the external fabric and necessary fundraising is underway. Finances are sound regarding meeting annual running costs and Parish share contributions.
All Saints Great Glemham
All Saints Church Great Glemham is located in the heart of a lively village and there is always something going on – Keep Fit, Pilates, Table Tennis, Ladies Club, Scottish Dancing, tea and chat, film nights and am-dram and also the nationally renowned Alde Valley Spring Festival – a four-week celebration of food, farming, landscape and the arts.
We enjoy coming together with other people from the Benefice for special services.
After Harvest Festival we enjoy a ‘bring and share’ supper supported by the local farm. Villagers have asked us to this year to expand it and hold a Harvest Supper at the village hall so it becomes a community event.
An Annual Art Show in the church in August hosts a popular preview night which helps with outreach within the local area.
The church is opened daily and unlocked during daylight hours. It has many passing visitors who often come to see the seven-sacrament font with its crucifix lily, as well as for quiet prayer. Our church building is a 13th century gem and we love and look after it as best we can. We have installed a kitchenette, toilet, and bell ringing platform. The churchyard is a popular place for all villagers as a quiet haven to meet or picnic – and an open call to help with church yard maintenance is well supported by the whole community.
St Andrew’s Church Little Glemham
Little Glemham ‘a small village noted for its gleam of humour’ (pop.190), sits astride the A12 between Woodbridge and Saxmundham. The village has a church, pub and village room. The nearest shops are Wickham Market, Saxmundham or Framlingham. Southwold, Aldeburgh and Snape Maltings Concert Hall are close by.
The church is well supported by 12 people on the Electoral Roll. The Churchwardens (one of whom is a Patron) are committed to the worship and outreach of the church. There are 4 services a month – Holy Communion (BCP), Holy Communion (CW), Morning Prayer and a Family service. The Snape & Farnham Branch RBL holds an annual Carol Service and The Royal Naval Association an annual Trafalgar Day Service.
We have a Harvest Festival Service in the church and a service in The Lion Inn with an auction of produce (see pic), a candlelit Carol Service in the church and a Christmas Party at the Hall. All events are well attended by the village. Fundraising events are held throughout the year. The church, situated on the edge of the park, is a popular wedding venue and is close to the Hall where events including civil ceremonies and receptions take place. We’re quite lively with a lot going on in a rural sort of way!
We are proud of the many fine features of our church. Outside the south porch is a glassed-in ancient statue of Saint Andrew. A more recent figure of Our Lord is over the doorway on the west side of the tower. The oldest part of the Grade 1 listed church is the 13th century Purbeck marble font. The 15th century tower and a Norman doorway, on the north side of the Church, are also remains of an earlier building.
The Glemham family who lived in the old moated Manor House from the 13th century and then in the Elizabethan Hall from the middle of the 16th century until 1700, are commemorated in brasses in the walls of the North Chapel. Sir Thomas Glemham was a Royalist supporter. He and his brother Henry, Bishop of St Asaph, are buried here. In Sir Thomas’s epitaph are the words “This silly grave, these happy cynders hyde” – ‘silly’ being an old Suffolk word for Holy. After the Glemhams, the estate passed to the Norths (Earl of Guilford’s family). In the North Memorial Chapel, is a marble statue of Dudley North, one of the organisers of the trial of Warren Hastings, mourner at the funeral of Sir Joshua Reynolds and pall bearer at the funeral of Edmund Burke. Beneath the Chapel is the North family vault. The Cobbold brewing family moved into the Hall in 1923.
The St. Andrew window on the north wall of the church is dedicated to Edward Septimus King, Rector of the two Glemhams who died in 1925. This and the sculpture in the Norman doorway beneath the 18th century Commandment Table was created by Margaret Rope of Leiston. Work on the tower and various windows were completed in the late 1990s.
On Friday May 12th, bell-ringers from Wickham Market, Pettistree, Hollesley, Brandeston and Blaxhall gathered at St Andrew’s Church in Little Glemham to mark the centenary of the loss of Private Charles Denny Hunt in WW1
St John the Baptist, Church Snape
Snape church is an attractive, flint faced, building, part of which dates to the 13th Century. The church seats approximately 100 but can accommodate more if needed. It has a splendid organ (two manuals and pedals) built by Peter Bumpstead of Ipswich and dedicated in 1999.
Special services include the major Church festivals, a Harvest Festival and Remembrance Sunday, strongly supported by the local branch of the Royal British Legion and the village community, and a Light of the World service on Christmas Eve. The church also runs workshops in the village hall at Easter and Harvest time. Laity read the lessons and act as sides-persons and the PCC takes an active role in forming the future policies of the church. Snape village is five miles inland from the coastal town of Aldeburgh on the boundary of the Heritage Coast (AONB). The population is approximately 600, not including children. About a quarter of the adult population are retired. The village is involved with the church at festivals and special services such as the popular Good Friday workshop and Christmas Services when we attract a large crowd to worship.
St Mary Magdalene Church, Sternfield
Sternfield is a small rural parish close to the market town of Saxmundham. We have 63 dwellings and about 100 residents, although some are second homes.
Music has an important role in our church, with an organist often replaced or complemented by a violin or a flute.
Although small, the churchgoers are enthusiastic in maintaining the church and its churchyard, and are active fundraisers. Events include our annual fete – known as The Dorcas Sale – and we have staged events in the church including concerts and poetry recitals. Other fundraising has included an auction of promises and a summer garden party. Thanks to these efforts we have recently been able to re-roof the church porch. The building itself dates from the 13th century and is in good repair – we run an annual clean-up day and barbeque which draws good support. The churchyard is maintained by a much-valued volunteer. We are proud to keep our church open day and night, year-round and our visitors’ book records much appreciation of this.
St Mary’s Church, Farnham with Stratford St Andrew
The united parish of Farnham with Stratford St Andrew was formed in 1992 following the formal redundancy of St Andrew’s Church, Stratford St Andrew and since 2003 has formed part of the Alde River Benefice.
The Riverside Community Centre, opened in 1999, provides an excellent social facility for the whole community, including the Benefice monthly Lunch Club.
In Summer we invite parishioners with their pets to an outdoors service of blessing.