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St Mary, Fulmodeston
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This church was abandoned, along with the one at Croxton, in the 1880s, and a brand new church built halfway between the two. Money was left for the rebuilding of the tower on at least two occasions in the 1450s, so what survives today is probably a result of that. It rears high above a wilderness, the battlements gaptoothed and the ivy beginning to take hold.
I wandered down, and stood about ten metres from the foot of the tower, which sulked behind its thicket of trees. I could just make out walls to the nave and chancel through the trees, but this site is quite difficult of access. A muddy track, impassable for cars, runs down from the Stibbart road, and then the site is behind an impenetrable wall of brambles and hawthorn. I went up to the end of the site, where there seemed to be a way into it from the east, but a farmer had helpfully used this place for half a dozen beehives, whose inhabitants began buzzing about inquisitively in a cloud above my head.
I beat a retreat. I am sure that they would not have stung me if I had stayed. I am equally sure that the cheetahs at Colchester Zoo would not harm me if I climbed into their enclosure. But I have no intention of doing either, and so this was as close as I was going to get.
Fortunately, Adrian Page-Mitchell has kindly contributed the photographs below. David Cawley wrote to me to point out the bell frame in the third image, and remarks that you can still hear the bell - but not here. It was taken in the 1930's to the fine new church of St Alban, New Lakenham, where it rings out daily over a vast parish - a far cry from this lonely place.
Simon Knott, May 2005
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