Centuries old seamark church in a hauntingly beautiful setting with long views over the Deben
- The miles-from-anywhere location on the Deben estuary up a tiny lane.
- The moment you step through the churchyard gate into a wildlife sanctuary a-froth with cow parsley in early summer, desolate but still wonderful in winter.
- The splendid Waller tombstones.
- The curious oval tower which is actually round inside. It was built of flint, brick and the septaria from the river bed, notably at the Rocks – apparently so-called because of anchors getting fouled up there.
- The stone coffin by the font, unearthed in 1850 and now thought to have been a receptacle for the washing and preparation for burial of the dead.
- The compelling stories about Ramsholt 800 years ago which you can find in the church
How old is it?
In a word ancient. A chart of 1287 apparently shows the church as a seamark and, in earlier Saxon times, it may even have been used as a watch tower against Viking invaders. After all, the ship burial of an Anglo-Saxon king, is just up the road at Sutton Hoo.
Much of the Norman church remains, though the windows are broadly medieval. The church fell to ruin in the early 19th century and was rescued in the 1850s when it was fitted out with box pews and a two-decker pulpit.
Pick up a copy of the fascinating ‘A History of Ramsholt’ by the late Ruth Mock when you visit the church and learn about the dock and ferry. By all accounts, this was a busy place in medieval times.
- The churchyard was the setting for the 1999 TV adaptation of Great Expectations by Charles Dickins, though the book was of course set in Kent.
- In 1346, Edward III’s fleet was moored at the mouth of the estuary four miles away
Hard to believe that, in the early years of the 20th century, Ramsholt was still a flourishing, albeit isolated, hamlet. Today there is simply the church, a pub downstream and a farmhouse half a mile inland.
But the church is putting together a fascinating community project called ‘Ramsholt – Living Memory’ as part of its Heritage Lottery Funding bid for urgent repairs to that unforgettable oval tower.
The church is signposted off the B1083 Woodbridge to Bawdsey road and you can find out and see stunning pictures on their website.
- Lots of scenic walks with views over the Deben.
- Great riverside pub Ramsholt Arms is only half a mile away
- At Sutton Hoo, less than seven miles away, you can learn about the aforementioned Anglo-Saxon king – Raedwald since you ask. There’s much to fascinate at the National Trust site of the king’s 27-metre ship burial and his sumptuous treasures. Now county archaeologists think they may have found his ‘village’ at a site near Rendlesham St Gregory
- Bawdsey is just over four miles away with a small sandy beach and a good café in the boathouse.
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