It all started when…

A chantry was founded here in 1326 by three priests who came to pray for the soul of Alice of Hainault, Countess of Norfolk, it survived until it was dissolved in 1544 by Henry VIII. However, the way in which the flints are closely layered in the nave walls suggests that the chantry made use of an earlier church building and probably added a new, larger chancel in the 15th. Century.

The brick tower dates from the early 16th. Century.  The bells in the tower are the work of Thomas Andrew of Bury St Edmunds and were cast in 1598. This ring of four is the work of a Suffolk bell founder whose products are now rare. One bell is rung for services and at weddings but the mountings are in need of repair; it is hoped that one day they will be restored to their former glory.


The interior of the church is simple and unsophisticated.  Over the chancel arch is a set of Charles II's Royal Arms.  The font is 19thC., but nearby there are two 15thC. benches with angled ends that must have been shaped to provide standing room round the medieval font.  They have panelled ends and poppy heads and some of them have a beast and little castle on the elbow

The fine pulpit is dated 1626, fitted with a new base and steps. There is no screen; only a low modern wall but marks in the arch above indicate that it was once filled with a tympanum above a screen.

A pair of benches in the chancel match those at the west end, and the 15thC. stalls with their broad book slopes are a reminder that the chantry priests would have sung their masses here.       

When Dowsing came this way in 1643, he and his men 'brake down ten superstitious pictures and tore up six popish inscriptions in brass; and gave an order to level the chancel'. However two brasses survived and they now lie in the centre of the floor. One is a 26 in. figure of an unknown man, wearing a belted tunic with a massive rosary. It dates from around 1480, alongside this is a 17 in. figure of a man, whose hair style suggests a slightly later date, wearing a long tunic with embroidered cuffs, a rosary and purse on his belt.

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The altar, unusually, is an old oak table, seen here at Harvest Festival time. Its bulbous legs are carved with acanthus foliage and top frame decorated with strap work.The window above contains excellent glass by William Wailes of a crucifixion in C13th. mode.

The nave was re-ordered in Victorian times when the Georgian horse box pews (as found in Benhall church) were replaced with pine pews with carved ends. At the same time, the chancel was tiled and panelled with texts around the altar.  The porch was built at this time and the west door below the tower was closed

Much of this information is adapted from “The popular guide to Suffolk  churches”, by D.P. Mortlock. 



Richard Garrett the owner of Carlton Hall , died in 1884 and is buried in the Churchyard.

Richard Garrett (III), having lived to hear of the success of the Leiston entries at the Royal (Agricultural) Show died on the 30th. July 1884 at his house “Newhaven”, Buckleswood Road, Leiston.  The Leiston Works was closed for the day of Richards burial, amidst appropriate solemnity, in the Carlton Churchyard under the yews and many of his workmen attended the funeral, doubtless pondering on what might be their future.
His Estate at Carlton Hall was wound up and the live and dead stock were sold in November 1884 (probably) by Robert Flick, the Estate Agent and Auctioneer who was, with Harry Brown a friend and joint executor of his will.
— GARRETT 200 by R. A. WHITEHEAD  (c. 1978 ISBN 0851 84026 6)

Richard is buried by the North East corner of the Chancel and his sister Sarah Croft is buried at the North East corner of the graveyard.

More information about the history of the church can be found on the events page relating to a flower festival event in 2018.