Our churches are open every day and you are welcome to visit during these opening times. We rely on volunteers to lock and unlock, so you may occasionally find the doors locked early, however every church gives details of someone local who will hold a key. If you need access for a specific purpose (for example wedding plans, florists, photographers and musicians) please contact them directly and we can make more detailed arrangements with you.

  • St Matthew’s Leavenheath – sunrise to sunset
  • St Mary’s Stoke-by-Nayland – 9am to sunset
  • St Mary’s Polstead – sunrise to sunset
  • St James’ Nayland 10am to – 4pm
  • St Mary-the-Virgin’s Wissington – sunrise to sunset

Four of our churches are constructed before Victorian period and one during, and so in certain ways access is a bit of a challenge. All our churches are working actively to enhance the accessibility and some projects are on the go. However the following information should help you plan a visit:

All the churches can be accessed by mobility scooter or a wheelchair except St James’ Nayland (only in wheelchair) and St Mary-the-Virgin’s Wissington would be challenging for a scooter. If you use a stick, crutches or a walker then St Mary-the-Virgin’s Wissington has got quite a long paths to navigate. Once inside there is space in all 5 churches where a wheelchair can be located.

If you are planning to attend a service of Holy Communion we are very happy to come to you in your seat/pew. Just let us know when you arrive.

If you are gluten intolerant we do not currently have gluten free wafers (except in St Mary’s Stoke-by-Nayland), but we are happy to use one if you bring it yourself, and will also look into provision of gluten free wafers if they are requested in sufficient time.

If you are hard of hearing we do have a Loop system in St Mary’s Stoke-by-Nayland. St Matthew’s Leavenheath and St Mary-the-Virgin’s Wissington currently have no amplification.

St Mary’s Stoke-by-Nayland, St Mary’s Polstead and St James’ Nayland have got accessible toilets and space for baby change.

Of course! We have many families of all shapes and sizes who make up our church community. Please feel welcome to be with us, and support your partner.

Apart from singing hymns and joining in prayers there are two points in the Holy Communion service which you might like to be prepared for. One is when we ‘share the Peace’. In our 5 churches people approach this in really different ways. In one church people politely nod their head to their neighbours, in another they get out of their seats and shake hands with everyone, offering hugs to those they know.

We realise that for some people this is just a bit much, so you are completely welcome to just quietly sit down at this point in the service; it’s a kind of code to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

The tradition of churchmanship varies according to churches and services. Some will fit when you look for quite space and reflection others fit for energy and informality. But all aim to make you fill welcome and comfortable.

First of all, congratulations! We’d love to welcome you to one of the churches in the parish to celebrate your marriage.

There’s lots to talk through when it comes to weddings, so the simplest thing is probably to drop us a line on the contact page. But here are a few things which may quickly answer your question:

If you or your parents have ever lived in one of the 5 villages in this Benefice for 6 months or more, the chances are you will be able to marry in our churches (there are other criteria which also may allow you to marry in one of the 5 churches).

If you have been married before but are now divorced, please drop us a line so we can chat through the options available to you (which do include marriage in church or blessing after a civil ceremony elsewhere).

The Church of England does not offer same-sex marriage currently. But a liturgy for a blessing of marriage after civil celebration is being prepared by the House of Bishops. We shall update the information regularly.

The simple answer to your question is ‘Yes!’

We are very happy to welcome people of all ages for baptism (christening) in our churches. We also know that sometimes it’s important to mark a new beginning for a family, but that baptism isn’t quite what you’re looking for. We can also have a service of thanksgiving for the gift of a child, which can mark the new beginning for a family following adoption, or simply the gratitude that a couple feel after the safe arrival of a longed for child.

The Rector, churchwardens and PCCs are responsible for the upkeep of the churchyards, and in our villages we are very kindly supported in keeping the grass down by our parish councils and a team of volunteers. The Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich has certain regulations about churchyards, including about the type of headstone that may be used, decoration on graves, flowers, upkeep and so on. You can download and read about these here.
Churchyard Rules download

If you are worried about a particular grave then it is simplest to get in touch directly with the Administrator, the Rector or the ad-hoc churchwarden using our contact page. If you simply want to find a relative then we also have plans of the churchyards, and should be able to help you with the details you require.


St Matthews’ Leavenheath hasn’t got a churchyard, graves of the late parishioners are in Stoke-by-Nayland.

St James’ Nayland no longer uses its churchyard for burials as it has been full for a long time. All the recent tombs are in Nayland’s county cemetery.


We have got a life of a fellowship of Christians who worship God, support each other and the wider community, open the doors of the Church to all and proclaim the Gospel. For that purpose, we maintain a regular pattern of services during weekdays and on Sundays throughout the 5 churches.

  • We support the vulnerable through our Community Pantries and Hardship Fund (CP&HF).
  • We support our schools, both church-school and state-school (governing body, collective worship, events in the churches, kids-club…).
  • We organise courses, conferences, publish on Social Media to educate on the Scriptures.
  • We leave the doors of our churches open whole day and make them available as venues for various events (coffee-mornings, concerts, conferences…) or organise events in village or church halls (coffee-mornings, warm spaces, creative competitions, quiz nights…).
  • We organise fund-raising events throughout the year either for the support of our buildings, our CP&HF or other charities we want to help (Village Fête, Pet Service, concerts, 100 club…).

We publish also the diary of our Rector for those who want to meet him outside a formal appointment at the vicarage. Here is an example published on the weekly pew-sheet:

  • Weekly Wednesday coffee mornings at St James’s, Nayland 10-12
  • Monthly Coffee Morning, Stoke, from 10.30am on 1st Saturday at the Village Hall
  • St Matthew’s Coffee Morning, monthly on 2nd Saturday in Leavenheath Village Hall, 10-12noon
  • Stoke School – Weekly Collective and pastoral visit on Wednesday
  • Revd Stéphane also serves Sudbury Police Station as Chaplain – Weekly Tuesday afternoons

The Churches are not officially part of any network promoting inclusion, however following the example of a Christ with open arms, we try our best to make visitors feel welcome and safe in our churches whatever their age, gender, ethnicity, opinion, denomination, abilities, disabilities or sexual orientation.