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First religious service at priory for nearly 500 years

17:55 31 July 2011

Revd Malcolm Doney leads the Celebrating Blythburgh Priory service in the ruins of the old priory where worship has not been celebrated for hundreds of years.
Photo by Simon Finlay

Revd Malcolm Doney leads the Celebrating Blythburgh Priory service in the ruins of the old priory where worship has not been celebrated for hundreds of years. Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant © 2011 01603 772434

It is a sacred site where, for centuries, the haunting sounds of prayer and music would have drifted across the marshes.

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And the ruins of Blythburgh Priory, near Southwold, came alive again today as it hosted its first religious service for nearly 500 years.

Local people gathered in the morning sunshine to take part in the historic event at the 12th-century priory, which was once home to Augustinian canons.

In 2008, Channel 4’s Time Team carried out an archaeological evaluation at the site. They discovered evidence of burials and human remains – one which was believed to be the Anglo-Saxon King Anna, the nephew of King Raedwald who is thought to buried at Sutton Hoo.

Rev Malcolm Doney welcomed the congregation and said it was a privilege to be taking the service.

“I stand here very conscious of all the people who have stood here before me,” he said.

“It is an enormous privilege. The Augustinian priory was established here in 1130 – that is 881 years ago.

“We’re here in the ruins of what must have been a magnificent priory church, a striking local landmark. It closed its doors in 1537 – 474 years ago.

“Of course the Christian history of this area goes way back at least to the time of the Christian King Anna in the 600s.”

To read more about this historic service pick up a copy of tomorrow’s EDP.

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