The Foxearth and District Local History Society
The Rise and Fall of Foxearth Spire

Inspiration and Ex-spiration

Foxearth church spire in its' glory days

Foxearth's church spire was one of the glories of the border parishes, 130 feet high, and visible for miles around. After a freak summer storm in 1948, it was suddenly gone. Legend has it that the two powerful neighbouring Squiresons (Squire / Parsons) Rev. Edward Bull of Pentlow and Rev. John Foster of Foxearth had a wager to see who could erect the highest building. John Foster built a huge spire on his church, whereas Edward Bull, whose church was a tiny affair on an island in the Stour valley, took the alternative route of a 90 ft high tower at his rectory, which was at the highest point for miles around. John Foster won the bet, but Edward Bull's creation still stands whereas john Fosters's creation is no more. In fact, Edward Bull's tower was built five years before the spire, in 1858: but it is true that the two rectors were close friends who vied with each other.
Foxearth & District Local History Society

The Bury and Norwich Post

October 10th.1863

The present Rector, at his own cost has thoroughly restored and almost rebuilt the church and enriched it with much internal ornament and decoration, all the windows being of stained glass, and good design. A new tower of flint with architectural accessories and a broach spire, 130 feet high has recently been erected by Mr.Foster, and is a conspicuous and beautiful object in the landscape, tapering elegantly upwards amid the leafy foliage which surround it to the west and south.

Suffolk Free Press

June 18th 1925

During this past week the inhabitants and people passing through Foxearth have been interested and amazed at the clever and daring work being carried out on the spire of Foxearth church. The Parochial Church Council accepted the tender of Messrs Parkhurst of London, for reviving the lighting conductor, regilding the weather cock and renewing hundreds of riven oak tiles, defect through age, the men's catlike movements and nimbleness are remarkable. The shingle spire is supported by a tower, built itself of black flint. The church is considered the most ornate in the Eastern Counties

Suffolk Free Press

July 3rd 1948

A storm of unusual severity broke over Sudbury and district about 2 p.m. on Friday. An hour earlier there had been a sharp downpour of rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning. But that was nothing to the violence of the storm which followed.

This Interesting photograph, reproduced for us from the
original by Mr. E. Crisp, was taken after the completion
of the erection of Foxearth tower and spire in 1862. On
the left is Mr. Geo. H. Grimwood at the age of 17; in the
centre Mr. George Grimwood, the builder, and the foreman
of the works.

The sky became so heavily overcast that lights had to be switched on in houses and business premises. Vivid flashes of lightning intermittently split the gloom, as it were, and every now and then forked lightning and deafening peals of thunder were calculated to alarm anyone of a nervous disposition. Rain began in thundery drops and then, swept by a gale of wind, fell so heavily that it was almost impossible to see across Market Hil1. in fact, the rain was whirled about and gave a smoke-like effect as it fell with "tropical" force.

It was so heavy that roads and pavements were inundated, shop entrances were flooded, and water cascaded from overflowing troughs down walls, not only outside, but inside, some of the older buildings of the town.. '

Motorists found it necessary to switch on their lamps and some came to a standstill.

Telephonic communication in Sudbury was cut off by the storm, which was one of the most violent in living memory.

Temperature was very high before and even after the downpour.


A photograph, also taken by Mr. Crisp,
immediately after the great storm, on
Friday, showing how complete was the
destruction of the 85 years old spire.
In the foreground is some of the wreckage

Perhaps the worst result of the storm locally was the destruction of the lofty spire of Foxearth parish church. It is thought that the spire was struck by lightning and the wind blew the wreckage into the adjoining field, the tower also being damaged. Here, as elsewhere, trees were blown down the Rectory and Brewery house were damaged. also other property in the village.

The tower and spire of Foxearth parish church were built on to the ancient fabric in 1862 by Mr. George Grimwood. of Sudbury, grandfather of Mr. C. G. Grimwood, J.P., managing director of the Sudbury Gas and Coke Coy. The firm of George Grimwood and Sons was founded by Mr. William Grimwood. who took his son, the subsequent builder of the tower and spire into partnership. The firm became George Grimwood and Sons with G. H., Arthur and F. J. Grimwood in the partnership Mr. George Grim-wood was at one time a member of Sudbury Town Council and died at the comparatively early age of fifty. His son, Mr. G. H. Grimwood, was twice Mayor of Sudbury.

The Rector of Foxearth (Rev. H. Malcolm Pearce) told the "Free Press" on Tuesday that it had been possible to carry on the services of the church. A fund has been opened to meet the heavy expense of restoration. All donations will be gratefully received by the Rector at the Rectory.


In Lower Cavendish not a single house escaped some damage. The Memorial Hall, which is a public centre for social entertainments, sustained considerable damage. A chimney stack was wrenched off and surrounding fir trees were uprooted, falling on to the roof to cause further havoc. Fortunately most of the windows were unbroken. The proceeds of the Cavendish fete, which was held on Saturday, are to be devoted towards the repairing of the hall.


The roof of the Congregational Church was partially carried away on to adjoining houses, and the chimney stack was wrenched off to lie intact along it. Most of the Manse windows were shattered. Black-land's Park Avenue, which is regarded as the favourite summer walk of the villagers, is no longer an avenue. On one side, nearly every tree has been uprooted, strewing .the road with masses of leaves, twigs and branches.


On Thursday night there was a brief thunderstorm over the higher part of the town -the Wents. Rain fell smartly for ten minutes but, curiously enough, did not reach as far as Kings Street. The cloud appeared to be over Acton and rain , slanted down to such a degree that where it fell the Sun was bright!.


Mrs. A. Warner, Sudbury Road, Bures had a narrow es cape during the severe thunderstorm on Friday afternoon. Dur ing the height of the storm a huge tree fell on to an outhouse attached to her cottage and did; considerable damage- Mrs. War-! ner was sitting with her dog, in a small ante-room, off the living! room, when there was a terrific crash as the tree fell, almost demolishing the outhouse and large branches penetrated the walls of the small room where she was sitting and the bedroom above, smashing crockery. Mrs. Warner, though uninjured suffered considerable shock. it was a sorry sight which met her husband's eyes when he arrived a short time afterwards, having been sent for from his work^

Both front and back doors were completely blocked and branches of the tree had to be sawn off before neighbours could reach Mrs. Warner.


At a house in Colchester Road, Bures. occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Eric Holmes and their two small sons, a walnut tree was brought down by the storm and covered poultry houses and runs in which Were a number of small chickens. None, however, suffered any harm. Another walnut tree in the garden of Mr. and Mrs. Pat Baker's house on Station Hill, was also "felled" by the high winds, which accompanied the thunder and lightning.