St Faith

Bacton church has the nationally important Blanche Parry memorial, a beautiful copy of the priceless Bacton Altar Cloth, the only surviving piece from the Queen Elizabeth I dresses.

About this church

This lovely church of Bacton, overlooking the Golden Valley, is dedicated to Saint Faith. The oldest parts of the present church, dating from the early 13th century, are the west wall and parts of the north and south walls. Although the main roof timbers are late 15th century, several of the small carved angels may be even older. The late 15th century choir stalls, commissioned by Blanche Parry's father or grandfather, have a tiny carving of the Parry coat of arms and were probably designed to match the now lost Rood Screen. Her brother left money in his 1573 Will to repair the tower.

The steps in the wall to the lost Rood Screen, which divided the chancel from the nave, can still be seen. In the Medieval period the Easter story, read by the priest and acolyte from the 'stage' on top, proved so popular that a similar dramatisation of the Christmas story was added. However, when the drama became less reverent in content it became street theatre.

This church was the mausoleum, or burial place, for Blanche's family. 

Bacton has a number of unique features, the most notable of which is the Blanche Parry Monument commissioned for herself by Blanche, the confidante of Queen Elizabeth I. This is dated to before November 1578 and so is the earliest known representation of the Queen as an icon, as Gloriana. It preserves the process of change, an unique process not often seen, from the historical portrayal of the queen to the iconographical.

Blanche's epitaph on it proves that Queen Elizabeth lived and died a virgin, Blanche composed it and she would not have lied to God. If untrue Blanche would have simply omitted this line: With maiden Queen a maid did end my life (modern spelling).

Opposite the door is a beautiful copy of the silk Bacton Altar Cloth, the only surviving piece from Queen Elizabeth Is 1,900 dresses (inventoried on her death). It is cloth of silver with beautiful motifs (uniquely in any collection worldwide from the period) embroidered directly on to this magnificent cloth. It is priceless. Evidence suggests the original was sent here in the 1590s in memory of Blanche, possibly by the Queen herself. Having been cared for by the Incumbent it was framed by Revd Charles Brothers and hung here for 106 years until sent to Hampton Court Palace for conservation.

Amongst the other interesting memorials are two tablets from the 1914–1918, First World War. Carved on these are coloured, military ribbon decorations, which are very rare features on such memorial stones.

The stained glass is modern. Early stained glass showing Blanche's father and her grandparents can be seen in the gallery.

This is church has incredible treasures to delight the visitor.

Note too the adjacent Village Hall which is on the site of the Medieval Ale House. The maypole once stood where you may park your car.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • Car park at church
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

Church videos

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Dore Abbey

This will be the first church that many people visit when exploring the beautiful and aptly named Golden Valley. It is all that is left of a Cistercian abbey founded here in 1147, and consists of what had been the presbytery, crossing and transepts of the abbey church. Much of it dates from the 12th and 13th centuries, though the tower is 17th century.

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