Building » Brantham – Holy Family

Brantham – Holy Family

Brantham Hill, Brantham, Suffolk, CO11 1TB

A small interwar brick lancet Gothic chapel, established from the former convent at East Bergholt. The church has a light and welcoming interior.

In 1849 an early Georgian property at East Bergholt (Old House) was purchased by English Benedictine nuns. They had fled Brussels at the time of the French Revolution and established themselves at Winchester. They opened a convent and school at East Bergholt in 1857, George Goldie providing designs for additions to the house and (in 1858-9) a chapel, in the Italian Romanesque style.

Holy Family church at Brantham was built in 1919, and was served from East Bergholt. The identity of the architect has not been established, but its roof structure has similarities with that of the convent chapel, and it is possible that either Goldie’s son Edward or his grandson Joseph, who continued the practice, were involved.

The nuns were evacuated from Old Hall in 1940 and after the war the house was established as a Franciscan house of studies. The friars served Holy Family (and, from 1959, St Mark’s at Ipswich, qv) until 1993; they were based in Ipswich from 1973, after Old Hall was sold. It became a commune, and the chapel fell into disuse (it has since been renovated). Some stained glass from East Bergholt by Margaret Rope went to the church at Kesgrave (qv). In 1993-7 Holy Family was extended and new furnishings provided, through a legacy from Elizabeth Hills (1908-1990). The church continues to be served from St Mark’s, Ipswich.   


A small lancet Gothic design of 1919, red brick under a slate roof. On plan it consists of a west porch, nave, and short canted sanctuary. The original sacristy on the south side now serves as a link to a modern sacristy and kitchen/meeting room, built in the 1990s in matching design and materials.

The gabled entrance porch has a terracotta hoodmould over the pointed entrance and terracotta kneelers and copings. It is flanked on either side by painted timber two-light windows with Y tracery and glazing bars. These and a pair of smaller windows in the gable also have terracotta hoodmoulds. At the sides the four bays of the nave are marked by attached buttresses, and the windows are similarly detailed but have plainer brick arches.

Inside, the nave is wide and aisleless, with an open timber queen post roof. The walls are plastered and the floor boarded. At the east end, an anse de panier arch separates the short canted apse from the nave. The sanctuary furnishings are of timber, introduced (along with the oak benches in the nave) in the 1990s. In the apse are two stained glass windows by Gabrielle Preedy, 1997. The Stations of the Cross came from the chapel at East Bergholt, as may have also the copy of Raphael’s Madonna del Granduca, in a fine gilt frame and hanging over the west door.

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1919

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed