A Saxon church was built here, the remains of which have been discovered beneath the churchyard (in 1827). Guthrum or Guðrum, christened Æthelstan on his conversion to Christianity in 878, was King of the Danish Vikings in the Danelaw. Reputedly buried c.890 at Headleage, usually identified as Hadleigh, Suffolk. Reputed site of Saxon Monastery: Entry in ‘Index Monastious’ records monastery in existence in mid 10th cent. Based on evidence from will of Aethelflaed (926-91).


Earldorman Brythnoth bequeathed the Manor of Hadleigh to the Priory Church of Canterbury Cathedral and thus began Hadleigh's status as a Archiepiscopal Peculiar, directly under the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Canterbury and not the local bishop; which lasted until 1838.


In Domesday Book the church at Hetlega was owned by Archbishop Lanfranc 1070-1089 Lord of Hadleigh Manor (on the Bayeux Tapestry).


The Saxon church was replaced about this time. The earliest fabric in the present church is the tower c1200.


Rector of Hadleigh, John de Monte Luell.


Double Piscina Recess built in south wall of the sanctuary, now much renewed.


The spire clock bell (Angelus bell) was cast and is believed to be Suffolk’s oldest inscribed bell.


Rector of Hadleigh, Robert de C’ysterne: Physician to Edward I and Edward Prince of Wales future Edward II c.1301


Early to mid C14 font, partly re-cut in the C19. Polygonal, it has delicate tracery niches on the bowl and stem and angels and foliage around the base of thecbowl. The church was already very large and the aisle walls date from this time.


The timber spire covered with lead was constructed about this time originally with a wooden parapet (the Cradle) crowning the tower.

early 1300s

Bench ends on a later seat in South Chapel of a lion and a creature (wolf) holding a severed human head by his hair (St Edmund).


Rector of Hadleigh, Johannes de Greneford.


Beautiful stone carved Tomb Recess beneath the window in the south aisle.


Rector of Hadleigh, Gregorious de Wasing.


Rector of Hadleigh, John Farwell.


Rector of Hadleigh, Nicholaus de Ake. An area of the manor of Hadleigh enclosed for the use of Hadleigh church. New Rectory House built to the west of the church. The former rectory was Red House in Church Street and it continued to house curates until the twentieth century.


Rector of Hadleigh, Thomas Moyne.


Rector of Hadleigh, John Baslet.

Rector of Hadleigh, Thomas Preston.

Rector of Hadleigh, William Palmer.


Rector of Hadleigh, Johannes Balsham. (at Waltham).


Rector of Hadleigh, Johannes Bacon.


Rector of Hadleigh, John Lincolne.


Chancel Roof with carved bosses, Parclose Screens and Misericord Stalls date from this time.


Rector of Hadleigh, William Chichley - Archdeacon of Canterbury 1420


Rector of Hadleigh, Thomas Walbere.


Rector of Hadleigh, Robert Savage.


Rector of Hadleigh, Thomas Chichley - Archdeacon of Canterbury 1433


Rector of Hadleigh, Thomas Rotherham - Lord Chancellor of England and Bishop of Rochester 1467, Bishop of Lincoln 1471, Archbishop of York 1480.


Deanery Tower built.


Rector of Hadleigh William Pykenham - Archdeacon of Suffolk and Dean of Stoke-by-Clare College built the Deanery Tower. He founded the almshouses and chapel in George Street. The Row chapel of the Blessed Mary Magdelene and St Catherine is a mid-15th century timber-framed building that, since 1497, has served as the chapel to the Pykenham Almshouses. In 1887 the almshouses were rebuilt in brick and three years later the chapel was restored.


The oldest bell, the fourth, founded by John Kebyll

An inventory of the church was recorded.


Curate Nicholas Shaxton found guilty of heresy & ordered to be burnt but recanted.


Curate Richard Yeoman martyred at Norwich


Rector of Hadleigh, John Rice.


The church was almost wholly reworked, the arcades were rebuilt, and the clerestory, the chancel chapels and arcades were built, parclose screens at the ends of the N and S aisles, re-set in their present positions in the C20, and the south porch and northeast vestry added.

early 1500s

The embattled South Porch sheltering one of the church’s great treasures - the sturdy and beautifully-carved south doors.


At this time there were the five religious gilds at Hadleigh: Most Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi, Nativity of St John the Baptist, Assumption of our Blessed Lady the Virgin Mary and St Thomas the Martyr of Canterbury.


Rector of Hadleigh, Thomas Bedyll - Archdeacon of London, then Cornwall 1536. 


Rector of Hadleigh, William Ryvett - Archdeacon of Suffolk


Rector of Hadleigh, John Vyall.


Dr Rowland Taylor LLD chaplain to Archbishop Cranmer and Archdeacon of Cornwall. In 1544 he became Rector of Hadleigh where the new Protestant reforms of Edward VI’s reign were adopted. However, in 1553, Mary Tudor became Queen and reinstated the Roman Catholic religion but Taylor, and others, refused to give up the Protestant changes and beliefs. His arrest was ordered in March 1554 and in January 1555 he was excommunicated and sentenced to be BURNT AT THE STAKE (9th February 1555).


THE REFORMATION: Archbishop Cranmer produced a complete vernacular liturgy. St Mary’s Hadleigh was amongst the first to receive the Mass liturgy in the English language. 

Foxe writes: ”The town of Hadleigh was one of the first that received the Word of God in all England, at the preaching of Master Thomas Bilney (and of Mr Thomas Rose), by whose industry the Gospel of Christ had such gracious success, and took such root there, that a great number in that parish became exceeding well learned in the Holy Scripture.” 


Rev’d John Nowell backed Queen Mary’s reversal of the Reformation and it was for his activities that the rectors of Hadleigh became also Deans of Bocking.


Rector of Hadleigh, Thomas Spencer - Archdeacon of Chichester 1560


William Alabaster: Poet and Playwright, native of parish, Chaplain to Earl of Essex 1596


Rector of Hadleigh, John Still - Bishop of Bath and Wells 1593.

Wife Ann neé Alabaster (oldest episcopal wife’s memorial in England).


Rector of Hadleigh, John Beaumont.


Rector of Hadleigh, George Meriton - Dean of Peterborough 1612, Dean of York 1617.


One of the 47 translators of the KING JAMES VERSION, OF THE CHRISTIAN BIBLE for the Church of England , John Overall - Dean of St Paul's, Bishop of Norwich was born in 1559, in Hadleigh Suffolk. He studied at Hadleigh Grammar School (next to the Guildhall), where he was a fellow student with another translator John Bois from Nettlestead (1560–1643) curate and later rector four miles away from Hadleigh at Elmsett.


Rector of Hadleigh, Thomas Goad. - Representated King James at C of E Synod of Dort 1618, Prolocutor of Lower House of Convocation 1625.        


Carved Bible Box in South Aisle.


Large sundial placed over the doorway of the South East Porch by Dr Goad.


Benjamin Coleman interior paintings of church now on the wall of the Dean’s Study in the Deanery Tower, originally on the west wall of the nave.


Curate William Hawkins - playwright and master of grammar school.


Rector of Hadleigh, Robert Cottisford (ejected as scandalous minister).
Rector of Hadleigh, Isaac Harrison.


Destruction of communion rails, images and inscriptions. On 2nd February 1644 William Dowsing visited St Mary’s and broke down 30 superstitious pictures (probably glass) and ordered the removal of a further 70 images.


Rector of Hadleigh, Daniel Nicholls.


Rector of Hadleigh, Thomas Cooke.


Rector of Hadleigh, Charles Trumbull (non-juror).


Rector of Hadleigh, Zechariah Fiske.


Rector of Hadleigh, Richard Smalbroke. - Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry 1730


Rector of Hadleigh, Robert Clavering. - Bishop of Peterborough 1729-1747


Rector of Hadleigh, Richard Ibbetson - Archdeacon of Exeter


Rector of Hadleigh, William Byrche.


A ‘handsome organ’ was placed above the gallery at the west end. Casework of the organ built by Father Smith in 1687.


Rector of Hadleigh, Dr David Wilkins. In 1721 he recorded the appearance of  the church and including a copy of the inventory of 1480. He was a leading  ecclesiatical writer of his day.- Archdeacon of Suffolk. 


The Patrons of the living at Lindsey St Andrews were the Master and Fellows of St Johns College Cambridge. (Now that the benefice is united with Hadleigh and Shelley this patronage is shared with the Archbishop of Canterbury).


Rector of Hadleigh, Thomas Tanner.

1745 -

On the west wall hang four hatchments dedicated to: 

        Dean David Wilkins (d 1745)

        William Bunbury (d 1748)

        Mary, wife of Dean Thomas Tanner (d 1779)

        Dean Edward Hay-Drummond (d 1829)


Oil painting of St Mary’s by Thomas Gainsborough 1727-1788.


Rector of Hadleigh, Thomas Drake.


Rector of Hadleigh, George Watson.


Rector of Hadleigh, Edward Auriol Hay-Drummond.

Moonlight Landscape with Hadleigh Church by John Constable 1776 - 1837.


South aisle roof renewed.


Curate Charles Benjamin Tayler.-Author ‘Memorials of the English Martyrs‘ (1867) 


Body colour painting on blue paper of Hadleigh by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775 -1851.


Rector of Hadleigh, Hugh James Rose (later Principal of Kings’ College,London). Built Deanery House. He began the British Magazine which propagated High Church teaching. In 1832 he hosted the Hadleigh Conference at Hadleigh. The conference held in the Deanery Tower led to agreement over the principles of the OXFORD MOVEMENT. A resolution was made to uphold  “the apostolic succession and the integrity of the Prayer-Book.”

The Leaders of the Oxford movement were John Henry Newman (1801–90), Richard Hurrell Froude (1803–36), John Keble (1792-1866), and Edward Pusey (1800–82).


Rector of Hadleigh, William Rowe Lyall - Dean of Canterbury 1845-1857

Curate Richard Chenevix Trench 1821-1833. Archbishop of Dublin 1863-84.

The Medieval rectory replaced.


The great rectory barn to the north east of the church was demolished.


The parish of Hadleigh ceased to be under the direct jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury and was transferred to the Diocese of Ely.


Rector of Hadleigh, Henry Barry Knox. (Parish Diary 1841-44)


Curate Hugh Pigot. Historian, wrote History of Hadleigh 1858.


Etching of St Mary’s by Henry Davy, English landscape painter


Major restoration carried out by Edward S Downes of Hadleigh. Probably at this time externally the coating of plaster was stripped and the flints laid bare.


Restoration of the Chancel by George Edward Pritchett 1824 – 1912, including a new chancel roof, Choirstalls and a new reredos in Caen stone.


Directory description of St Mary’s by James Pigot.


External restoration by Frederick Barnes 1813-1898.


Rector of Hadleigh, Robert Thomas Wheeler.


New Communion Rails with carvings of the instruments of the Passion.


Restoration and transformation by John Drayton Wyatt 1820–1891 including removal of box pews and provision of oak bench pews with wood carving executed by John Spurgeon of Stowmarket. The perpendicular octagonal font of fine stone carving was restored and recut, repair and refitting interior with new pulpit with traceried oak body carved by John Spurgeon of Stowmarket on an arcaded stone and marble base was made. A prayer desk was made.  Restoration of the interior of the south porch.


Rector of Hadleigh, Edward Spooner.


The spire was repaired.


The church was extensively restored including removal, in 1855, of the two-storied porch at the south east. The tower had a wooden parapet which was also removed and replaced in stone.


Rector of Hadleigh, Ralph Milburn Blakiston.


Two-manual pipe organ rebuilt and enlarged by James Jepson Binns using 1687 casework.

A new Lectern with traceried form and rich woodcarving in memory of William Woods.


Rector of Hadleigh, Benjamin Stannard Fryer.


A stone reredos was provided in the chancel.


Rector of Hadleigh, Francis Edward Carter.


Further restoration took place under Charles Sydney Spooner 1862–1938, including repairs to the lead spire and provision of the font cover.


Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich founded.


War Memorial, on South aisle wall, by Charles Spooner recording 111 Hadleigh heros.


Vestry timber beamed roof replaced with concrete and iron roof.


Font cover by Charles Spooner, dedicated to John Overall.


Stone parapet to tower removed and a splayed foot broach spire constructed. Spire releaded. 


Rector of Hadleigh, Herbert Newell Bate - Dean of York 1932-1941


Rector of Hadleigh, Edmund Audley Downes.


New High Altar made as part of a reordering for centenary celebrations by Cosmo Gordon Lang Archbishop of Canterbury of the Oxford Movement.The reredos removed, and the Sanctuary repaved. 


Memorial in South chapel to the Rev. Frances Carter, d.1935, by  Sculptor/ stonecutter Eric Gill.


War Memorial, on South aisle wall, by Cautley


Rector of Hadleigh, William James Brown. Wrote ‘Life of Rowland Taylor’(1959).


Sir Cedric Lockwood Morris 1889 -1982, oil on canvas in frame - landscape Brett Valley, with Hadleigh Church beyond, signed and dated '47, 73cm x 89.5cm


St Mary’s was designated a Grade I listed building by English Heritage.

Screen to tower designed by H Munro Cautley.


Rector of Hadleigh, David Duval.


Rector of Hadleigh, John Richard Betton.


An aumbry was made in St John’s Chapel for reservation of the Sacrament.


Bells Restored. Organ overhauled.


W.A.B. Jones, Historian, Headmaster at Hadleigh Boys School in Bridge Street author of ‘Hadleigh through the Ages’: A Viking Royal Town, Medieval Wool Centre, Chartered Borough, & Archbishop's Peculiar.

d 1977

Joshua Stephenson, blind church organist and choir master.


BBC Songs of Praise held in St Mary’s.


‘Guthrum’ archaelogical dig in churchyard led by archaeologist Stanley West.


Rector of Hadleigh, Geoffrey William Arrand.


A Painting of the head of Christ gifted by Maggi Hambling CBE (b1945) British contemporary painter and sculptor.


Window installed in the North aisle dedicated to John Richard Betton, Dean of Bocking and his son Peter John Betton.

Open Book in South Aisle carved by a resident of Roussies, Hadleigh’s French twin town.


Toilets installed in west porch beneath tower.


Rector of Hadleigh, Stewart Collard Morris.

Joyce Willis born and brought up in Hadleigh, baptised and confirmed at St.Mary’s. One of the first women to be ordained priest at the Cathedral Church of St.James, Bury St. Edmunds on April 30th, and on May 1st she presided at the Eucharist at St. Mary’s Hadleigh, the first women priest to do so.


Statue of Our Lady (in Lady Chapel) carved in L’Epine stone by Dereck Jarman.

A new central Nave altar was made replacing one installed in 1975.


Rector of Hadleigh, David Arthur Claude Stranack .


Rector of Hadleigh, Martin Charles Thrower.

Porch Project started for the youth of Hadleigh 11-20 years of age.


“The Challenge of Change” and Phase One of reordering launched.


Disabled toilet installed. 

Victorian oak pews in nave replaced by chairs. 

Twenty pews made from the best of the 1872 oak bench pews, shortened to 9ft 6ins long refurbished by Andrew Janas and retained for future use in the Lady Chapel.


The first major restoration and reordering of St Mary’s for over a century was launched. 

St Mary’s listed among the top 300 Major Parish Churches by Historic England and designated as an associate of the Greater Churches Network.

Parish Priest, Revd Canon Dr John Parr.

Freeland Rees Roberts Architects of Cambridge appointed for the reordering project.

A new Altar, Lectern and three Communion Chairs were made with oak from the pews for the Lady Chapel by Andrew Janas. On the 4th December they were dedicated by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich The Right Revd Martin Seeley. 

The previous Lady Chapel altar was placed against the north wall beneath the Betton window for a trial 15 months. using three pews to create an area for quiet prayer.


The Friends of St Mary’s fund major repairs and renewal of the stonework and re-leading some glass to all the ground floor windows.


Rector of Hadleigh, Layham & Shelley, Jonathan Hawke Delfgou