Eye, Suffolk Church
Eye, Suffolk Church
The church of St Peter and St Paul in the Suffolk village of Eye is a mainly 14th century building, with a late 15th century tower and south porch. It is built of brick and flint with ashlar dressing.

The tower reaches 101 feet, and is decorated with intricate flushwork. Look for the arms of John de la Pole on the tower and on the two storey 15th century south porch. The porch protects a 13th century doorway decorated with traditional Early English carving motifs such as stiff-leaf symbols.

What to See

The interior has some interesting monuments including a marble memorial to a naval surgeon named John Brown (d. 1732) in the south aisle. Much earlier is the altar tomb of Nicholas Cutler (d. 1568) in the north aisle. This tomb has a canopy set on classical columns. Of a similar age and style is the altar tomb of William Honyng (d. 1569) in the south chapel, which is probably by the same mason.

As interesting as those old tombs are, it is a modern work of art that catches your eye as you enter the church; a wonderful rood screen and rood loft created by Sir Ninian Comper in the 1920s. The base of the screen is original, with 15 panels painted around the year 1500 with likenesses of saints and Evangelists, plus Henry VI and St Thomas of Canterbury. It is interesting to note that over half of the saints depicted are female. Comper designed the rood loft, which has been called one of the finest pieces of 20th century architecture in Suffolk.

Comper was also responsible for the impressive and colourful east window, designed as a memorial to Revd John Polycarp Oakey (d. 1927). Over 1800 local people contributed to pay for the window. He was also behind the elegant sanctuary lamps, the war memorial in the south aisle, and the striking font cover, which seems to rise up towards the roof like a rocket ship lifting off.

The other feature that makes Eye's church so rewarding to visit is the setting; the churchyard is immediately beside the wonderful medieval timber-framed guildhall, while across the street and half hidden behind more modern buildings peeps the crumbling stone walls of Eye Castle, atop its high mound. You can get quite wonderful views of the church and the guildhall from the castle ramparts, and the sight of the two historic buildings side by side is one of my favourite in all of Suffolk.