…..'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'…..

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menory Lane - historical meanderings

Continuing the story of Claydon Church of St Peter from yesterday...

The Reverend George Drury, it turns out, was something of a rebel in reverse to the Cromwellian Puritans of earlier times.  He favoured the more catholic practices of incense, candles and decoration, including images of the Virgin. He was part of the resurgence of Anglo-Catholicism. He also had leanings towards architectural reconstruction - a very Victorian tendency!

I am grateful to the Suffolk Churches site for this clipping... (click that link if you are interested in a nearby church and another scandal in which Drury was involved.)

...Father George Drury, one of the new breed of ultra-ritualists. His introduction of candles and a cross on to the altar at Claydon, as well as vestments, daily communion and even incense, scandalised the local protestants, and led to his admonishment by the Bishop of Norwich. For all these things were quite illegal, of course; several priests had been prosecuted, and a few of them imprisoned, one for more than a year. Others were persecuted into breakdown, early death and even suicide.

Priests like Drury were notorious at this time, not least for calling themselves Priests, a suspiciously papist word. It was not enough for a Church of England minister to be a protestant, he had to behave like one, too. And Drury's greatest crime, in the eyes of his opponents, was the establishment at Claydon of religious communities, firstly of men, and then a convent of sisters. We may well imagine the effect on a Suffolk village of Father Ignatius, the exotic monk who led the first community here, moving it to Norwich and then to Wales, where it still survives as a Catholic community on the island of Caldy.
What enraged popular opinion, though, was the convent. Father Drury was accused of keeping a harem, an outrageously offensive slur in the mid-19th century. On one occasion, a local mob broke into the convent and 'rescued' a nun; she was conveyed to a lunatic asylum by order of her father, and incarcerated there until his death. Anti-catholic slogans were painted on Drury's rectory, and he built a nine foot wall around it to protect it.

Claydon is a big village, and we may presume that he found as many enthusiasts as enemies there. Supplemented by adherents from a wide area, his Anglo-catholic services at Claydon were very popular, despite constant interference from the Bishop of Norwich, who on one occasion threatened him with suspension for saying services in an unlicensed preaching house - that is to say, he celebrated communion in the convent. He was also accused of calling communion 'Mass'. This all seems very amusing today, but we need to remember that burning passions were inflamed; popular opinion, and at times the Law, were not on the side of George Drury.

So in here we see a clue as to why there were some strange looking constructions behind the church yard wall (seen in the photo yesterday of the strange grave markers).
Google Images
Drury built those Gothic structures by recycling authentic materials from disused Thurleston church nearby and other items from around Claydon itself and even made his own bricks in kiln on the rectory precincts.  The walls are as high or higher than those around the church itself and the towers are very like those seen on castles - for guards to stand.  By all accounts he may have needed some of those as he was the subject of physical expressions of disgust at his 'papist' ways as well as verbal diatribe.

Despite all this, the church he remodeled stands testament to a man of vision and talent.  The pulpit and corbels were carved by himself...

Google Images

The central, vaulted ceiling was Drury's design also.

The window above the altar was one of his too...

Google Images

He was certainly a 'stayer' - lasting 49 years at the parish. His grave is surrounded, just as his home had been, with high barriers.

(I didn't photograph this myself as I was busy up that tree...)

Which leads me now to the intriguing Orthodox markers I had first spotted in the yard...

More about them tomorrow!!


  1. It was a hard life back then, I feel so sorry for the nun, but they did build beautiful churches.

  2. The 'bells and smells' faction in the Church of England played a big part in my mother's upbringing. She attended an Anglo-Catholic convent boarding school in Whitby where the rituals included confession. She can still be relied upon to know the answers to quiz questions on saints days etc.
    Cheers, Gail.

  3. Hari OM
    Merle - true!

    Bertie/Gail - oh yes I recall that phrase, 'bells and smells'! And of course "Our Friend" is one of the Sisters of the Church...


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