When you see church towers soaring into the sky, go and take a closer look.
There’s plenty to discover
Back in medieval times when many Suffolk churches were built about 600 years ago, the only stone close by was flint.
It was very hard and knobbly and not easy to make corners with.
That’s why you can sometimes see round towers instead of square ones.
When flint is split, it looks black and shiny and you can make fancy patterns with it called flushwork.
Look for flint flushwork in the walls at Eye church or in the porch at Badingham
When the stonemasons wanted to make something special like pointed pinnacles or gargoyles to throw the water off the church roof, they had to fetch the stone in by river. There were no proper roads or lorries in those days.
Look out for pinnacles at Hessett on top of the tower and the porch and all along the clerestory – that’s the ‘clear storey’ of windows high up in the main part of the church.
Look for the big fat pinnacles at Clare. They look like the funnels of a ship.
Gargoyles are stone creatures with ugly faces and sometimes take the shape of weird beasts or dragons!
Look for them at Walberswick just below the fancy flushwork at the very top of the tower. You’ll need your binoculars to spot them so high up.
You will sometimes see other strange faces or curious characters. They are called ‘grotesques’. Do you know why?
Look for them at Woolpit on the arch round the main door. Sometimes they stick out their tongues.
Look for the woodwose, a wild man covered in hair, at the base of the font in Framlingham church.
By the time Elizabeth I became Queen in 1558, stonemasons were really clever at carving. They made monuments and tombs for rich and powerful people so they would not be forgotten. Many were in a soft and delicate stone called alabaster.
Look for the amazing tombs in Framlingham church with their Royal connections.
One is for the 3rd Duke of Norfolk and his Royal Princess and completed in 1559. You can see their figures on top and carved lions standing guard at the four corners.
Look inside Kedington church to see how many monuments you can count on the floor and on the walls. You will see some weird clothes and hairstyles. Gruesome skulls too!