Blythburgh is an English
villagein area known as the Sandlings, part of the Suffolkheritage coast. The milestonein the village shows it is thirty miles from Ipswich, and twenty-four miles south of Great Yarmouth, and is divided by the Londontrunk road.
The village is noteworthy for its huge area of flooded marshes which lead to the estuary of the
River Blyth, the river flows from west of Halesworthto the North Seabetween Southwoldand Walberswick. Originally the river joined the sea at Dunwich(one of Parliaments rotten boroughs. Southwold is reach by the A1095 road which crosses a causway near Reydon claimed to have been built by the family of Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, passing over Wolsey Creek using Wolsey Bridge with views over the adjacent Hen Reedbedsbird reserve.
North Sea Flood of 1953along the east coast the river banks were not repaired which created a large tidal lagoon. The surrounding reed-beds are the haunt of Bitternand Marsh Harrier, the mud-flats are feeding grounds for Shelduck, Avocetand Curlew.
It has a population of about 300. Blythburgh is best known for its church, Holy Trinity, internationally known as the
Cathedral of the Marsheswhich is a regular venue for the summer Aldeburgh Festival. The church has been flood-lit since the 1960s and is a landmark for travels on the arterial road to Norfolk. Standing beside the main road to Lowestoft(England's most easterly point), the White Hart Innowned by Adnamsthe local brewer, is known for its Dutch gableends to the building and beamed interior, which is claimed to have been the court-house for this prosperous town in the middle-ages.
Across the river north from Blythburgh is the hamlet of
Bulcampinfamous for its workhouseand adjacent to the site of the Latitude Festivalan annual event at Henham Parkthe home of the Rousfamily. The majority of the land to the south of the village is owned by the Blois familyfrom Cockfield Hall. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., eldest brother of US President John F. Kennedy, was killed when his aircraft crashed a mile south of the village during World War II.
Approaching Blythburgh from
Darsham, the nearest railway station and the only level-crossing on the A12 road, travellers pass Toby's Walks Picnic Siteon the common. The site is named after a young man who was hanged nearby and is reputed to haunt the area. Adjacent to the picnic area is an attractive site of free range pigs, [Cite web
url = http://www.freerangepigs.co.uk/the_difference.htm
title = Free Range Pigs
publisher = Blythburgh Pork
accessdate = 2007-07-04] which are highly prized by major supermarket chains and quality restaurants.
William Alwyn- composer
Kenneth Hubbard- H-bomb testing
*Dr Martin Shaw - hymn music
*Major Wood - brother Peter owned
Jack Pritchard- Isokondesigns
Peter Harold Wright- World War II VC winner
John Seymour LucasRA - portrait painter
Ernest CroftsRA - military artist
William Benner- Southwold Railwayartist
Cyril English- educationalist
Simon LoftusOBE - brewer and vintner
Mark Fiennes- photographerand illustrator.
Holy Trinity Church
Known as the Cathedral of the Marshes, Blythburgh was one of the earliest Christian sites in East Anglia. There was a church there in 654 to which the bodies of the East Anglian King Anna and his son, descendants of King Wehha were brought after their deaths in battle at
Bulcampwith the Mercian King Penda. At the time of the Norman Conquest Blythburgh was part of the royal estate and had one of the richest churches in Suffolk, possibly a Saxon Minster, with two daughter churches. It was probably the rich parent church that was granted by King Henry I to Augustinian canons some time between 1116 and 1147, becoming the priory of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A daughter church is likely to have been the predecessor of Holy Trinity. It was rebuilt in the 15th century. In the movement to dissolve the monasteries, the suppression of the priory was authorised in 1528 and it was dissolved in 1537, the reversion of the property being granted to local gentleman Sir Arthur Hopton [Cite web
url = http://www.stedmundsbury.anglican.org/solebay/walbers.htm
title = Sir Arthur Hopton
publisher = Sole Bay Ministry
accessdate = 2007-07-03] in 1548.
The church underwent a series of disasters, man-made and natural. The most dramatic of the latter variety came in August 1577, when a storm hit the area, and during morning service lightning hit the church, "cleft the door, and returning to the steeple rent the timber, [and] brake the chimes". The falling spire damaged the font and the roof (which wasn't repaired until 1782), destroying the angels in the west end bays. The door shows marks, which have the appearance of burns caused by candle flames, which the credulous associate with the devil's fingerprints. They have been associated with the '
Black Shuck' legend, which is the title of a song by the Lowestoftrock group The Darknesswhich mentions Blythburgh in the lyrics.
During the 17th century Holy Trinity was badly damaged when Parliament set out to remove what the puritans deemed to be superstitious ornamentation from churches; Blythburgh was assigned to
William Dowsing, a local puritan, and on 8 April 1644he went to the church and ordered the removal of "twenty superstitious pictures, one on the outside of the church; two crosses, one on the porch and another on the steeple; and twenty cherubim to be taken down in the church and chancel... and gave order to take down above 200 more within eight days".
General neglect also played its part in the church's deterioration, resulting in part from rural poverty, and in part from the rise of
Methodism(a Primitive Methodist chapel was founded in the village in the 1830s).
By the late 19th century the church was in a very poor state of repair, and in 1881 a restoration fund made possible the repair of the church, and then its maintenance after its reopening in 1884. The restoration was controversial with William Morris and his Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings opposed to the radical plans of the local building committee. Shortage of funds restricted the work that could be done. While the fabric was repaired, modern taste ruled out any return to the 15th-century colour scheme of the church; the thirty-six angels, set back to back in pairs on the arch-braced, firred, tie-beam roof had been brightly painted in red and green with much use made of tin foil and gold leaf. A modern reproduction is mounted above the south door.
In 1962 the acoustic of the building was discovered by
Benjamin Britten, and some of the concerts of the Aldeburgh Festivalare performed in the church.
Blythburgh had a railway station on the narrow gauge
Southwold Railway, which ran from Halesworth to the Suffolk coast at Southwold via Walberswick, but this closed, with the rest of the line, on 11 April 1929.
*Hugh Roberts, Mary Montague, & Barry Naylor. "Holy Trinity, Blythburgh: Cathedral of the Marshes". Jarrold Publishing, 1999.
* [http://www.blythweb.co.uk/blythburgh/ History Notes] — Blythburgh Society
* [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/adversaries/bios/anna.html King Anna of East Anglia] — Early British Kingdoms
* [http://www.suffolkchurches.co.uk/Blythburgh.htm Holy trinity, Blythburgh] — The Suffolk Churches Site
* [http://www.stedmundsbury.anglican.org/solebay/blyth.htm Solebay Ministry] — St Edmundsbury & Ipswich Diocese
* [http://nli.northampton.ac.uk/ass/psych-staff/sjs/Blythburgh.htm Blythburgh, Suffolk] — photographs of the church and its scorched door
*Alan Mackley, Mary Montague. 'Blythburgh. A Suffolk Village'. Blythburgh Church and Jarrold Publishing, 2003.
* [http://www.blythburgh.suffolk.gov.uk Blythburgh Village] — Suffolk County Council
* [http://www.blythweb.co.uk/blythburgh/poachpriors.htm The Poaching Priors of Blythburgh] — Blythburgh Society, 2002, Alan Mackley (ed.)
* [http://www.blythburgh.net/map/index.php Map of Village] — Blythburgh Net
* [http://www.lib.uea.ac.uk/lib/libinf/find/archives/pritchard/ppframe.htm Jack Pritchard] — The Pritchard Papers, UEA Norwich
* [http://www.peterwrightvc.com/intro.html Peter Wright VC] — Wright family website, Suffolk, England
* [http://www.musicweb-international.com/shaw/index.htm Martin Shaw] — Musicweb International
* [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=NTPSBE54FX1MZQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2004/01/27/db2701.xml Kenneth Hubbard] — The Daily Telegraph
* [http://www.musicweb.uk.net/alwyn/index.htm William Alwyn] — Musicweb
* [http://www.blythweb.co.uk/angel/index.php Village Sign] — Blythweb, Richard Maslen
* [http://www.foxearth.org.uk/blog/2005/01/tobias-gill.html Toby's Ghost] — Fox Earth
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/suffolk/realmedia/features/blythburgh.ram Blythburgh Video Tour] — BBC East
* [http://www.suffolkchurches.co.uk/bulcamp.htm Blythburgh Hospital] — (Bulcamp) Blything Union Workhouse, Suffolk Churches
* [http://www.suffolkcoastandheaths.org/gallery_image.asp?PageId=11&ImageId=23&ImageCategory=Suffolk Sandlings] — Suffolk Coast & Heaths
* [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=37895#s1 Priors of Blythburgh] — British History
* [http://www.milestonesweb.com/sites/tm450752.htm Thirty miles to Ipswich] — Milestone Web
* [http://www.senseofplacesuffolk.co.uk/search/Summary.aspx?pos=0 Imogen Holst with Benajmin Britten at Blythburgh Church] — Britten Pears Library 1956
* [http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Suffolk/Blythburgh.html Blythburgh War Dead] — Roll of Honour
* [http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/registeredcharities/showcharity.asp?remchar=&chyno=310378 Neal's Charity] — Charity Commission
* [http://www.suffolkwildlife.co.uk/nr/sites/hen.htm Hen Reedbeds] - Suffolk Wildlife Trust
* [http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/news_detail.aspx?articleid=25935 Simon Loftus OBE] — Morning Advertiser
* [http://www.aviationmuseum.net/Joe_Kennedy.htm Joe Kennedy] — Flixton Air Museum
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