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Welcome to our church family. Whether you’re a visitor to the town, or newly moved to town, or a visitor to the website, we hope you will find the content of these pages helpful.  

If you are able to make a personal visit to either St Mary’s or St Agnes’s, we think that you will find beauty and peace in these historic buildings. There are weekly services in both churches.

The two separate parishes of St Mary and St Agnes form one benefice, served by one rector.  Subject to prior commitments, the Rector’s regular office hours for dealing with enquiries is on Wednesday mornings, 10.30 am – 12 noon unless otherwise advertised.

St Mary’s dates from the mediaeval period, while St Agnes’s is a victorian church. There is lots more information available on the history of both churches.

Our liturgy is varied. St Mary’s stands within the Catholic tradition of the Church of England. Sung Mass (Holy Communion) is the chief Sunday service. Matins according to the Book of Common Prayer is the regular form of worship at St Agnes, with Holy Communion once a month.

The church choir is central to the liturgical life of our benefice.  The choirmaster would be happy to hear from any parishioner interested in joining. At St Mary’s, the servers, who are affiliated to a local branch of the Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary play a key role in supporting the priest during Mass.  At St Mary’s and St Agnes’s, flower arrangers help to beautify the church interiors. A team of bell ringers ring the bells of St Mary’s ring for service and for weddings as requested.

There is a local branch of the Mothers Union, which is active in ‘Christian care for families world wide’, under the guidance of branch leaders Daphne Knott and Deidre Grosvenor. They welcome new members, and for further enquiries, please contact the Rector in the first instance.

  • Morning meetings: 1st Friday (of February, April, June, August, October, December) in the Turner Hall (10.00 am)
  • Afternoon meetings: 1st Thursday (of March, May, July, September, November) in church (2.00 pm) followed by coffee in the Turner Hall.
  • Corporate communion: the 3rd Wednesday in church, followed by coffee.
  • A prayer group meets the 3rd Monday afternoon in the month.
  • Members receive a newsletter from MU within the Mothers’ Union within the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, also a quarterly magazine, Home and Family, and an annual prayer diary. For further information about the work of the Mothers’ Union worldwide, visit www.themothersunion.org and www.muenterprises.co.uk.

Marriages and Christenings

If you live locally (within either parish) or have local links, and are thinking of getting married in church or of having your child christened, the rector is happy to discuss this with you. For further information regarding the legalities surrounding marriage or christenings in a parish church, visit www.cofe.anglican.org/lifeevents and follow the links.

Schools

St Mary’s serves Houldsworth Valley Community Primary School, and, from time to time, has been represented on the governing body. The organist and rector have assisted in collective worship. St Mary’s and St Agnes’s both associate with Fairstead House Preparatory School. Visits by groups of children and teachers into ‘their’ church for educational or worship purposes are built into each school’s curriculum.