a speedy recovery from the ravages of the invaders. The Bishopric of
East Anglia was restored in the early 10th century, the monastic life
was revived at Bury St. Edmunds and new churches were being founded
all over the county by lords of the manors or groups of freemen.
Norman Scarfe has researched the Domesday Book Survey and shows that
roughly 80% of the medieval churches in Suffolk had already been
establishe by the time of the Norman invasion of 1066.
many of these Saxon churches have survived, and only a few examples
of their stonework or decoration exist in East Anglia. Two special
buildings which give us some idea of how they looked are in Essex,
the earliest is the church of St Peter on the Wall at Bradwell on
Sea, which tradition tells us was built by St Cedd about 654 AD. Much
of it has gone, as the building was used as a barn for many years.
The other is the wooden church at Greenstead dedicated to St.Andrew,
the nave is built of oak logs split vertically in half and joined
together with timber pegs. Although it was once thought to have been
built in the 10th century, research into the dating of
trees has suggested a more probable date of c.850 AD.
was almost certainly a church standing on the site of the present St.
Mary's Church in Halesworth in Saxon times, for the Domesday record
speaks of 40 acres of land which was held by Ulf the Priest in King
Edward's time, and this was the land which later became the Rectory
Manor. The early church was probably a wooden thatched structure, but
later it had a round tower like Holton or Wisset, for its foundations
were revealed in the restoration of the Church in the 1880's. There
was most probably a small nave and sanctuary, a type of church which
was common to the period, and imbedded in the south wall of the
chancel, just below the piscina, are the famous 'Danestones' which
were discovered in the alterations of the church in 1889. These
appear to be Scandinavian in origin, and consist of hands holding
vines which writhe over a panel which is broken in half and damaged
in places. They have been dated to be as early as the late 9th
century, and if so could have formed part of the early church. More
recent opinion suggests a date of the 11th century.