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Rachel's Weekend Visits
Pakefield Church from the beach
There are some places that it is easy to feel you know, when really all you know is the name on a road sign. Pakefield is a bit like that.
Driving into Lowestoft from the Ipswich direction you see the sign for Pontins Holiday Centre and think, 'Oh yes, Pakefield'.
Turn off the main road and explore the beach and side streets and it quickly becomes clear that Pakefield is a community in itself. Most of the original fishing village may have fallen into the sea and the remainder swallowed up by the town of Lowestoft but ask locals if they live in Pakefield or Lowestoft and "Pakefield" is the emphatic reply.
Canon Bob Baker
Church under threat
I began my visit at the intriguing church of All Saints and St Margaret's, perched above the cliff and beach. It has only been the changes in sea defences further up the coast that has saved the parish priest from the daily job of collecting bones from the shingle as the graveyard slipped ever more into the sea.
Now a reassuring stretch of beach stretches from the church to the water's edge. Standing on the cliff top path, popular with walkers and dog-owners, the roofline of the church gives you a hint of the unusual layout within.
"It was a semi detached church with a solid wall down the middle and two rectors," explained Canon Bob Baker, the vicar. "One half is St Margaret's and one half is All Saints. No one really knows why it happened.
"The most popular theory is that, in the base of the tower, is an ancient stone known as a Sarson stone and what they believe is, that this stone came across in the Iron Age and was used for heathen, pagan, worship. So when Christianity came (we think around 400 AD), a church was built on this site to show that Christianity had overcome the pagan religion.
Grass cutting the natural way!
"We think that eventually there were two main landowners who both wanted to give a church to their communities but both wanted it here, where this stone was, and where the existing church was. So they both built a church with the stone in the middle at the base."
The church, badly damaged in the Second World War, was one of the first to be rebuilt, and the dividing wall between the two churches is now a series of arches but the two sides of the church are mirror images with two altars, two rood screens and two sets of pews. Certainly a challenge for preachers and congregation alike, especially when a projection screen is needed for a service!
Across the churchyard, kept neat by the efforts of two pet sheep, is the church hall and a bustling plant sale was on when I arrived - organised by the thriving Mothers Union, and their main fundraising event for the year.
Art in Pakefield
Walking past the war memorial I came to a crossroads with an art gallery on one corner and a fish and chip shop on the other. As it was too early for fish I went into the Ferini Art Gallery, which has been in Pakefield for 11 years and looks very modern with white walls to display the canvases and stripped wooden floors.
Michaela Barber at the Ferini Gallery
"Although it looks like a modern building it used to be an old net store," explained Michaela Barber who showed me around. "It was all wood clad and used to look like a barn but we redesigned it in 1996 to look like this."
Although unusual to find an art gallery in the middle of a residential area, Michaela said that is worked well as there were quite a few second-home owners in the area: "They buy a painting for their Pakefield home – and then come back for another one for their London house!"
No concrete jungle
Placing an order for some delicious fish and chips at The Pakefield Plaice we popped into the nearby pub, The Trowel and Hammer, which claims to be Lowesoft's oldest recorded pub. There we had a welcome drink before going, after lunch, to visit one of Pakefield’s holiday centres – and no, it wasn't Pontins!
The Pakefield Caravan Park has 373 caravans including a hire fleet of 15, but doesn't have provision for touring vans any longer. With well-tended caravans surrounded by gardens, some with front row places for a sea view, families of all ages relaxed in the sunshine.
Philip Key with the beachside caravans
General Manager, Phillip Key has only been at the park since last season, when he moved here with his family from a larger holiday centre, but it is obvious he is very proud of the park.
"What you've got here in a lovely peaceful tranquil setting near the sea, is a holiday park with a David Bellamy conservation award and lots of wildlife. It's not a concrete jungle.
"We've got an entertainment club room, we've got a pool, and what we have is very nice surroundings and nice people, some of whom have been on the site for 50 years - it's amazing."
Meeting the people of Pakefield I was really taken with their friendliness – and the pride they have in the area they live in.
They may be glad of the amenities of their big brother, Lowestoft, a short walk along the beach, but their hearts are definitely in the village that was once Pakefield.
last updated: 11/06/2008 at 12:27
Have Your Say
michael starling, cambridge
Shirley Petersen, Ankeny, Iowa, USA
John Merrigan Tasmania Australia
a lovely site
Robin (from Phoenix, AZ)
George H. Percival
shirley young, Pakefield MU
Mrs Maureen Hill M.U. Member.