Building » Framlingham – St Clare

Framlingham – St Clare

Fore Street, Framlingham IP13 9DF

A modest design of 2003, its character lifted externally by an attractive tapering bell tower and internally by decent new and imported furnishings.

It was from Framlingham Castle in 1553 that Mary Tudor launched her successful bid for the throne. The castle was later used as a prison for Catholic priests transferred from Wisbech Castle.

Catholic worship was not restored in Framlingham until 1945, when Mass took place in an upper room of the Crown Hotel. In 1953 a wooden building advertised as a poultry-rearing house was purchased and re-erected on a site acquired in Fore Street; it was first used for services in July of that year. The church was served by Franciscans from East Bergholt until 1973, when that community relocated to Canterbury. It was then served by various local priests until 1981, when Framlingham was formally joined to Woodbridge parish.

The foundation stone of the present church (on the site of the original church) was laid by Bishop Michael Evans on 13 July 2003, and the building was ready for use by the end of that year. The architect was Grazyna Zielinska-Rust of Mikael Rust & Co., a member of the congregation; her son Janusz Rust designed the bell cage. The builders were Capability Developments of Baylham. A major donor was Mrs Lucy Rope (d. 2003 and a founder of the church at Kesgrave, qv), after whom the church bell (originally a Trinity House buoy bell) was renamed.


The church is orientated north-south, but this description assumes conventional liturgical orientation (i.e. as if the altar was to the east).

The building is of longitudinal plan, consisting of an aisleless nave and sanctuary under one roof, lower sacristies to the east and a lower forebuilding or narthex to the west. The narthex is clad with stained weatherboarding, while the main body of the church is rendered. The pitched roofs are pantiled. The otherwise utilitarian external appearance is enlivened by a centrally-placed tapering bell tower, with an open oak bell cage housing ‘Lucy’. A foundation stone is set into the wall towards the bottom of the tower.

The narthex or forebuilding has a small kitchen, WC and social area. The worship area is a single space, the bays marked by laminated timber trusses. New or acquired furnishings include:

  • The carved oak altar, lectern and benches are good quality items, acquired from the chapel of Keswick Hall teachers’ training college, Norwich. 
  • Above the altar is a small round stained glass window by Ray Hardinge, a member of the congregation, on the theme of the Canticle of the Sun.
  • In a recess on the south side of the nave (the base of the tower) is a shrine with relics of St Clare and St Francis, a limewood statue of St Clare by David John and a small stained glass window by Graham Dowding (the cosmos encircling a cross).
  • At the entrance to the church is an octagonal timber font. Over the entrance is a wood carving inscribed St Clares, with monstrance and Eucharistic symbols, by Ian Etheridge of Ipswich.
  • The Stations of the Cross came from the old church and before that the Convent of the Assumption, Norwich.
Heritage Details

Architect: Mikael Ruse & Co.

Original Date: 2003

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed