Benefice responds to those affected by Hurricane Irma

Devastation in wake of Hurricane Irma

Following the devastation that has been wrought throughout the Caribbean Islands and the United States, the benefice have decided to offer those across the benefice the opportunity to make a donation to help those in some of the poorest islands who have lost everything.

Please do encourage friends and neighbours to give what they can.  Collecting boxes have been place at the following points in the Benefice,


  • St Mary’s Church
  • The Village Store and Post Office
  • The Cock Inn


  • St Matthew’s Church
  • The Hare & Hounds Pub
  • The Lion Inn


  • St James Church (then at the Post Office during the week)
  • Kerridge the Butcher’s
  • The Village Stores Bear Street
  • The Anchor Inn


  • The Church of St Mary the Virgin (c/o Nicola Thorogood)

Stoke by Nayland:

  • The Church of St Mary
  • The Village Store and Post Office
  • The Crown Inn
  • The Angel Inn
  • Eaves Garage
  • The S-b-N Hotel & Golf Club

The collecting boxes will be in place for another week until about 18th or 19th September.

If you would like to donate online, directly with Aid Organisation helping those affected please donate to:

Oxfam Hurricane Irma Appeal

World Vision Hurricane Irma Appeal

Care International Hurricane Irma Appeal

USPG Rapid Response Caribbean Appeal

We continue to pray for all who suffer as a result of this catastrophe, and what is to follow, as well as those having to abandon and flee their homes, and homelands, through persecution, tyranny  and other disaster.


Stoke by Nayland & Nayland proudly flies the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day

Once again this year we are proud that the Red Ensign, flag of the Merchant Navy, will fly atop Stoke by Nayland and Nayland church towers to mark Merchant Nay Day (3rd September).  Since 2000, Merchant Navy Day has honoured the brave men and women who – vitally – kept our nation fed and fuelled during both World Wars, and celebrates our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers.

September 3rd happens to be the day Britain went to war in 1939 and is now Merchant Navy Remembrance Day in Canada, too.  On the very first day of war in 1939, the unarmed Donaldson liner Athenia, Liverpool to Montreal, was torpedoed 200 miles northwest of Northern Ireland with the loss of 112 lives including 16 children, the first sign of what has become known as the Battle of the Atlantic, and the first hostile act of war between Britain and Germany.

Britain’s Merchant Navy – or mercantile marine – has played a significant role in our nations history.  It is much older than the Royal Navy which was brought into existence to protect our vital maritime trade.  Merchant shipping suffered severe losses from German U-boat and surface raider attacks in both World Wars, during which approximately 32,000 merchant seafarers were killed.  However, with the protection of the Royal Navy merchant ship convoys imported enough supplies to allow an Allied victory.

Nowadays the merchant marine and its seamen are responsible for 95% of UK imports, vital to our well being and economy, including half the food we eat, as well as a similar share of our exports.

Our nine foot Red Ensign – or Red Duster, as it is affectionately known – which you will see flying on the church was generously supplied by Seafarers UK (formerly King George’s Fund for Sailors), following a request by Richard Channon.

There could be few better places for such a flag to fly in Suffolk, as Stoke church tower is in line of site of the North Sea off Clacton as well as the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich.  If you feel able, please give to Seafarers UK ( or one of the several maritime charities which dedicate themselves to the welfare of present day merchant seamen and seafarers’ families.

See for local councils and other organisations recognising Merchant Navy Day by flying the flag.

10th Anniversary Fun Day – Saturday

The weather was wonderful for our day long celebration to mark the 10th Anniversary of our “First Sunday” service.

We look forward to Welcoming you all back tomorrow for our Special Celebration Service – Bacon Rolls from 9.30am and the Service begins at 10am – #everyonewelcome

Jester Jim teaching balloon modelling

Keeping out of the sun in the First Aid Tent

You can never have enough bouncing

Being Transformed into a beautiful butterfly

Old and young alike enjoying the atmosphere

GIANT Bubbles!

Its all about that first twist

Tea, Coffee, Cakes and Copella Apple Juice

Conversations and Cake

Learning to keep the plates spinning

“Our God is a Great Big God”

More Parachute Games

Keeping the plates spinning

BBQ Ready to Go

Parachute Games

Seven and a Half Churches: The Legacy of St Thomas in South India

When 16th century European priests arrived in southern India to introduce Christianity, they were told that a more famed Christian missionary had been there many years beforehand.
As they travelled in and around the regions of Travancore and Cochin, the priests found that there were indeed a long-established community of Christians, and the man who first converted them was none other than St. Thomas the Apostle (the “Doubting Thomas”), who it was said, arrived in India aboard a Roman trading vessel in 52 AD.Now, whether St. Thomas himself actually preached under the palm trees of Travancore and Cochin more than 1900 years ago, in the end come down to an act of faith. One thing is certain though and that is that Indian Christian traditions predate any in Europe, and for the more than 2 million Christians in the region there is no doubt.
However, just like St. Thomas, sometimes it is easier to believe when you can see and touch things for yourself, and so to trace these historic roots and traditions for yourself I am inviting you to join me in discovering these in depth first-hand from the 17th September to 4th October 2018.
Together, we will explore these unusual stories, the “seven and a half” churches founded by Thomas, and the Christian traditions of south India. Our journey will take us along the south west Malabar coastline, through the backwaters of Kerala to the very southern tip of the subcontinent, before travelling on to the Coromandel coast in the east, where, tradition tells us that St. Thomas met his end at the hands of an angry king on a hilltop just outside modern-day Chennai (Madras).
Along the way we will visit a modern-day legacy of St Thomas’ Christian influence, as we visit the Donhavur Fellowship, a community founded by the late Anglican missionary and spiritual writer Amy Carmichael. As well as experiencing and participating in the Christian traditions; we will also take the opportunity to visit the magnificent Hindu temples in Madurai and the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Mahabalipuram – all with plenty of time to relax, shop for gifts or handmade clothes, eat well and to enjoy all that India has to offer.

This tour really does offer something for all, whether you have travelled to South India before, or a new to the region or country, this tour will enable you to meet the real people and explore those places overlooked by tourists – allowing you to become a pilgrim instead and to follow in paths once trodden by saints.

I very much look forward to travelling with you.    All are welcome.

The Revd Mark Woodrow

More information can be found at 

Gospel Oak & Rural Mission Sunday 2017

The view from Polstead – but not the ‘Gospel Oak’ itself

The sun almost shone as we took our service outside and into the grounds of Polstead Hall which are adjacent to St Mary’s Church for our annual celebration of St Cedd coming to the parish in 653AD and preaching outside underneath the ‘Gospel Oak’.    Whilst the old tree finally died in 1953 (revealing it was almost 1,400 years old), the Gospel Message continues.

Age is no barrier – so all were involved in the retelling of the Parable of the Sower

No, domestic violence isn’t taking place but Bill Wigglesworth (our churchwarden) and wearing his yellow shirt as he takes on the role of “The Hot Sun”, withers the poor plants.

Other plants, growing in good soil are growing quite happily – ready to bear much fruit!

Thanks to everyone who helped make this a special occasion, from the musicians, to those who provided refreshments, as well as those who helped carry the chairs.

A Prayer for Rural Mission Sunday

Creator God,

through whose word all things came into being, and by whose
power all is sustained: your creation renews inspires awe and
worship, strengthens us with hope and calls to us to wonder
at your mystery.
We pray that, filled with the Spirit who leads us to Christ, you
would open our eyes to see your gifts and open our hearts
that we may share them with others.
May the churches across our countryside be centres of
community, places of welcome and human warmth, and
channels of the hospitable love offered us in Jesus.
We pray this prayer in His holy name.


Rt Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

Potato Party ‘a Smash’ in Polstead

The Best Dressed Potato

Last Saturday (8th July) whilst the village was basking in a glorious sunny day what seemed like most of Polstead descended upon the gardens at the home of Juliet  &  David Allerton, with many wheeling wheelbarrows full of mud and potato plants.

It turns out that they had been given a couple of seed potatoes earlier in the year with a challenge to see who could grow the best crop, with prizes for the the winners – and let’s just say that the crop size varied considerably, from just a couple of potatoes to whole baskets full.

If you weren’t green fingered then there were still plenty of potato themed activities to join in with – including the “Best Dressed Potato” contest (see picture above) – or you could find a shady spot and simply sit back with a cup of tea and some home made cake.

A massive thank you to everyone who joined in, and a special thanks to Juliet & David and her family for all the hard work they put in.    The total profit for the day was an incredibly respectable £723.61 but even more rewarding was the enjoyment had by all.