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In April 2017, I started a project to play my cello in all of Suffolk’s 500 medieval churches. The story began, really, with childhood bike rides punctuated by stops at village churches. Then it continued with my first ever concert in a Suffolk church at the age of 13, in Wattisham. When I moved to Suffolk in 2011, I started to explore the county more widely, wanting to get to know it intimately and discover all the hidden corners that no one will ever direct you to. My astonishment at the beauty and uniqueness of all the churches I stopped to visit on a journey to the coast was the next stage… accompanied by the acquisition of so many animals that I knew I would have to find new adventures close to home instead of far away. The addition of the cello was the last, entirely personal, piece of the puzzle to fall into place.
When I discovered just how many churches there are in Suffolk, I nearly abandoned the idea on the spot. It took another six weeks of mulling it over and chatting with friends to get past the feeling that it was simply too crazy to contemplate… You can read the whole story in my blog introduction, or listen to the interview I gave on BBC Radio Suffolk in July 2017.
Here is an audio clip of me playing the Prelude from Bach suite no. 2 in D minor. I recorded it in Chattisham church (where the above photo was also taken), which is still one of my favourite church acoustics. (The embedded audio player may not work in some browsers; download audio file here.)
I have now reached 440 churches, and will finish my project with a concert in St Bartholomew’s church, Orford, which will be my very last Suffolk church. Due to coronavirus, the final concert in Orford has had to be postponed until 2021.
- The Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, which provides grants towards the maintenance and repair of Suffolk’s churches;
- The Churches Conservation Trust, which cares for over 20 of Suffolk’s redundant medieval churches; and
- The Suffolk Wildlife Trust, which supports and advises churches in the management of churchyards for wildlife.
I would love to reach my target of raising £1000 for each of these three charities by the time my project finishes. If you value Suffolk’s churches and have enjoyed my blog or concerts over the last three years, please do consider making a donation.
Please choose from the links below to find out more about all the other aspects and outcomes of this project – still ongoing!
I am planning to make a CD recording in a Suffolk church as a lasting memento of my church tour. I have completed a Crowdfunding campaign for this recording, which will include a commissioned solo cello piece by Benjamin Ellin. This commission will be premiered at my very last church, Orford. Please click here or visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/suffolk-church-recording for more information.
If you would like to hear me play, I give fundraising concerts in village churches and play at events throughout Suffolk. You can see my concert calendar for 2020 here. You can also see past concerts and events here. If you would like me to play in your village or at an event, please contact me.
I have written about every church I have visited: please click here to find out more. Alternatively you can go straight to the Introduction, which will tell you the full story of how and why this project began. You can also subscribe to receive future instalments of my church blog using the Subscribe option on the right-hand side of this page, or in the top right-hand corner of any page of the website.
I teach the cello to older children and adults, approximately Grade 3 upwards. Please contact me for more information.
I have been making greeting cards from photos I have taken of Suffolk churches during my project. If you are interested in finding out more, or buying some of these cards, please contact me. I have special rates for cards to be sold in aid of village church funds.