Church

 All Saints' Church.  Holy Communion is held on the second Sunday of the month at 1030 am and Morning Praise For All is held on the fourth Sunday of the month, also at 1030 am. Details of other services throughout the year can be found in the Worship Diary.

The ancient and imposing Church of All Saints, stands on rising ground within a spacious, open churchyard in the heart of the village.  The core of the present church dates back to the 14th century and was probably based on the site of an earlier church.  The church has an interesting architectural history having seen various additions and improvements made during the following six centuries.  Its most unusual feature is the stonework of the east window which, according to Munro Cautley "is extraordinary, the tracery is not contained within an arch but the containing head is cusped itself.  Inside is a two-centred scoinson arch and the deep splays are filled with blank arched panels."  Also still intact are the original 14th century piscina, aumbrey, sedilia and font and stone angels bearing shields which support the western tower arch.  In the second half of the 15th century, perpendicular aisles and clerestory, both battlemented, and the south porch were added, the latter still with its original gargoyles.  The curch also still contains verious 15th century oak benches and pews, some carved with poppy heads and one bearing unusual pierced lettering to the back.

In the 16th century the nave roof of arch-braced tie-beams and traceried spandrels was built, though it would appear this roof has been lowered, as can be seen from the sanctus bell window in the tower, which is now above the roof line.  Fortunately, the canted waggon roof of the chancel with small cusped panels and carved angel bosses escaped that century's desecration.  The simply carved pulpit and some fine memorials also date from this time.

The 17th century saw some interesting artefacts added - one, a rare edition of the leather-bound Breeches Bible of 1611 and others being some of the communion silver. During the 17th and 18th centuries further fine memorials were placed in the church while the 19th century saw the addition of the Royal Arms of George 111 in 1815.  The east window by Burlison & Grylls was inserted in the latter part of the century as were the carved angels at the four corners of the nave at the base of the parapet.

In 1775, the bells were re-cast at Whitechapel, and guaranteed for seven years, including the ropes.  Yearly, on 5th November, the bells were rung to celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot.  The 'gleaning bell' was rung at harvest time and the 'passing bell' was rung when a death occurred in the village.  The Old Year was rung out and the New Year rung in.  Sadly the bells no longer hang in the church tower.

In 1887 the first heating system was installed in the church at a cost of £130 but before that, the worshippers stoically endured the cold.  Many old graves in the churchyard contain the remains of victims of tuberculosis before it was largely eliminated by better living conditions and modern science.

The ancient parish of Gazeley was supported by four charities:  The Poor Fuel Allotment (1839), Rev. Burroughs' Blanket Charity (1883) and Pitt's Dole (1641) to distribute 'One cade of red herrings to the poor in the first week of Lent'.  The four charities are now grouped under Gazeley United Charities and administered by a board of trustees with the Rector as chairman.

With the arrival of Rector Stephen Mitchell in 2003, the Parochial Church Council embarked on another programme of renovation and redecoration of the church.  This was aided by grants from English Heritage and other charities but in large part by the dedication and commitment of the whole village in supporting the various fundraising activities throughout the year.  The most heartwarming help came with a legacy from Mr Jack Marsh, who had lived in Gazeley all his life and had left his entire estate to the church on his death.  This huge act of generosity made the redecoration, renovation and the installation of a new lighting system possible.

It can therefore be seen that this church bears witness to the skill and work of our medieval forefathers and those who, for the following 600 years, have loved, cared for and worshipped in it, enabling us to use and enjoy it today. 

As one of the central public spaces in the village, the church is much used.  Besides Sunday services, family baptisms, weddings and funerals, there are many community events.  Over the past few years there have been concerts of all kinds, including a brass band, a viol consort, an early music group and a male voice choir and several exhibitions such as an art exhibition, a display of wedding dresses, a display by the Suffolk Fuschia Society and a Flower Festival with a display of countryside and garden artifacts.

On the retirement of Rev.Canon Stephen Mitchell in 2016, All Saints' Church welcomed its present incumbent, Rev. Rosemary Ryecraft, opening a new chapter in the life of our church.

 

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