Saint Clare's Church, Framlingham
"Framlingham was in 1553 the scene of the first restoration of the Catholic religion in England after the outbreak of the Reformation. Here, in a chapel in the Castle, Queen Mary Tudor, on receiving the good news that other parts of England were deciding in her favour and against Lady Jane Grey, caused a figure of Christ in His passion to be set up, and the Te Deum was sung. This was the first act of public Catholic worship since the enforcement of the reformed religion by the civil power. Its date was 20th or 21st July, 1553."
Text of notice in the Sacristy at Framlingham.
Until the Second World War, no Mass had been said in Framlingham since Tudor times. A travelling missioner priest had occasionally visited Wickham Market where he celebrated Mass. During the war years Father Bill Jolly, parish priest at Aldeburgh, established a monthly Mass at Framlingham in the Corn Hall. After the Corn Hall was incorporated into the Crown Hotel, the location for Mass moved to the “Crown and Anchor”, the Catholic community sharing these premises with the Odd Fellows’ Society.
In the early 1950s land was purchased in Fore Street, Framlingham, and a wooden building advertised as “suitable for use as a poultry-rearing house” was purchased in Hadleigh and transported to Framlingham to become the new Catholic church. Mass was first celebrated there on 21st July, 1953. Father Gabriel and Father Ninian of the Order of Friars Minor, from their friary at East Bergholt, visited regularly to celebrate Sunday Mass at Framlingham for the next twenty years.
In 1973 the Franciscans announced that they would be closing their friary at East Bergholt and the community would move to Canterbury. It seemed that Saint Clare’s too would close, but Father Leeder, the parish priest at Woodbridge, devised a plan whereby the local clergy would take it in turn to celebrate Sunday Mass at Framlingham. By this time Father Bill Jolly had retired from active ministry and was living in retirement in Woodbridge. However, although he was almost totally blind, he regularly offered Mass at Framlingham on Sundays during the 1970s. He died on 17th July, 1982.
In July 1981 when Father Anthony Seeley became parish priest of Woodbridge, the pastoral care of the church community at Framlingham was formally joined to the parish of Woodbridge, becoming the Parish of Woodbridge with Framlingham.
Father Denis Brophy retired from active ministry in the parish of Felixstowe and he moved with his housekeeper, Olive Rigby and his Alsatian dog “Morag” to a bungalow in Framlingham. From 1985 until his death in 1992 Father Brophy regularly celebrated Mass for the community at St. Clare’s Church on Sundays and Holy Days. It was Father Brophy who encouraged Mike Vipond to consider his call to serve the church as a Permanent Deacon.
Bishop Michael Evans visited Framlingham to lay the foundation stone of the new Saint Clare’s Church on 13th July, 2003. The first Mass was celebrated in this new church building on Advent Sunday 2003.
Bishop Alan Hopes visited Framlingham and celebrated Mass in Saint Clare's Church on the occassion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the ordination of Deacon Mike Vipond in May 2016.