St Mary’s is a Grade I listed medieval church; for its situation, history and architecture, click here for its page on the Suffolk Churches site. The Suffolk volume of the Pevsner Architectural Guide (2nd ed, 1974) quotes 1920s church architect H Munro Cautley, who called the font ‘probably the most beautiful in the Kingdom’.
It suffered a grievous blow in December 2015, thieves stealing about four tonnes of lead from the roof of the north aisle, but fundraising – much from generous concertgoers – enabled repairs to be completed before the 2016 season.
Below is a plan of the church, showing the location of seats at the different prices for 2016 (in fact unchanged for 2017). In order to book tickets, click here for the Tickets page.
The church is small enough (its maximum capacity is only 230 concertgoers) that the acoustic is good wherever you sit, but a row of stone pillars between the central nave and each side aisle limits the view from some side and most rear seats. Most of the central nave and side aisle seats are in wooden pews; most of the chancel, altar and rear nave seats are in individual chairs (many new since 2009).
Access and facilities
The path from the road to the church porch is gravel but fairly level. In the porch, you can buy a programme for the concert (£1), as well as hire a cushion if you wish (also £1). Between the porch and the interior of the church there is a threshold which anyone in a wheelchair has to negotiate, but the church has a portable ramp; after that, the floor of the church is level, with the Box Office table on the left.
Audience members in wheelchairs (and their accompanying helpers) are usually offered spaces at the lowest price in row K at the back of the central nave, close to the famous font (and to the tea table).
The church normally opens by 2.30pm for you to buy or collect tickets, and to take your seats.
In each concert interval, church supporters from Cratfield and neighbouring villages offer home-made cakes with tea, coffee and cold drinks, served at the back of the church. A modern kitchen was installed under the tower in 2010, with a fine new wooden and glazed screen between it and the nave. The proceeds from interval refreshments all go to the church as a source of much needed income; in addition, Concerts at Cratfield is glad to help St Mary’s directly with a tithe of ticket income from every concert.
Each season we hire portaloos for concertgoers. These are on a grass bank under trees, at the edge of the churchyard near the road. For those with reduced mobility, there is a level-access loo (shared with our performers, whose Green Room it adjoins) at the end of the path alongside the north exterior of the church.
We welcome children aged 5 and over, if accompanied by at least one adult willing to ensure that they are not disruptive. (Children benefit from a half-price reduction in their tickets.) Those younger are regrettably not allowed, however well-behaved.
Dogs and other pets
Like other concert venues, we do not allow dogs or other pets into the church for a concert, nor can we make arrangements for them to be looked after. However, an assistance dog accompanying a concertgoer who is visually impaired is welcome: please let the Box Office know at the time of booking.