At Crow’s Hall, we believe most firmly in choice. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve not pursued hosting official wedding ceremonies here at the Hall. The freedom to choose is all yours – and many of our couples choose to get married at St Mary’s Church Debenham (aka St Mary Magdalene Church) in the historic market town which is just a mile or so down the single-track country lane from Crow’s Hall.
St Mary Magdalene Debenham is simply one of Suffolk’s most beautiful medieval churches. And although it might have a rather solid-looking flint exterior, it has to be one of the county’s most elegant too.
Inside, tall and slender arcades create a synergy between the side aisles and the nave. The result is one really impressive space, flooded with light from clerestory windows above.
Soaring almost 50ft over the nave is a single hammerbeamed roof with oak timbers dated to the 15thcentury.
The pillars of the four-bay stone arcades have fascinating carved capitals, whilst the nave is paved with red and gault bricks – made in Debenham in 1871 – a rare and touchingly local find.
But there are some very special local connections here too, which make a marriage ceremony at St Mary Magdalene Debenham and celebrations at Crow’s Hall a very fitting combination…
Sir Charles Framlingham, who built Crow’s Hall in the 1500s has an impressive tomb with life-sized effigies in the south side of the chancel. Charles inherited Crow’s Hall in 1559, created and enhanced his moated manor following his marriage to Dorothy (beside him) and knighthood.
He is sculpted wearing his armour and looks quite a daper chap with his short hair and beard; his wife is in fine fettle too, with her dress and bonnet still beautifully detailed and quite a picture of the fashions of her time all those centuries ago. Charles became High Sheriff of Suffolk in at the height of his career in the 1580s. He died in 1595.
In the floor nearby Charles’ tomb are the brass half-figures of one of his ancestors, John Framlingham (died 1425) and his wife Margaret, who lived in an earlier incarnation of Crow’s Hall.
Imagine the marriage day moment. The guests have assembled and the groom is all impatience down at the altar end.
The beautiful bride arrives at the church and the procession starts from the moment she enters the – first – porch.
Yes, first – because St Mary’s has a double set of entrance ‘rooms’ – a rare and enormous 14th century ‘Galilee’ porch, located on the western side of the church at the opposite end to the altar.
With the three sets of church doors open, there’s a direct line down (literally, but gently) from the bright outdoors, through the two darker porches into the sunlit nave of church, down (literally, but gently) to the ever forward-looking groom and a beautiful married future together.
Both Lincoln and Ely cathedrals have mighty western ‘Galilee’ porches. And somehow market town St Mary’s with its height, space, arcades and extended processional path takes things to another level.
St Mary’s Debenham existed in the Domesday days of 1086. Its chancel took shape in the 13th century and the medieval masterpiece rose to new heights in the 15th century. More recently, the Victorians restored the nave in stages and work was undertaken in the 20th century too. Today it is a beautiful, welcoming and time-honoured church, loved by its community.
Choosing the combination of a wedding ceremony at St Mary’s Debenham with celebrations at the house that Sir Charles Framlingham built is something which many future bridal couples fall in love with – after all, it’s a great excuse to travel up to Crow’s Hall from the Suffolk town in real style!