The Priory Room

Last updated on May 19th, 2017 at 01:24 am

oak-framed, red brick building with more roof than wall and a tall thin chimney with texts carved into the timberThe Priory Room is located next to St. Mary’s Church.  The name comes from the fact that in the middle ages Walsham was staffed by priests from Ixworth Priory. They built a rest house near this spot.  In 1902 the local benefactor John Martineau decided to build a “room for meetings in connection with the church” as reported by the Bury Free Press 1902.

The Priory Room was designed by John Martineau’s cousin, Edward Henry Martineau, many of whose buildings can be seen in the village and beyond. The celebrated “Martineau cottages” dating from 1866 to 1899 are all robust buildings in an Elizabethan style, and the Priory Room is similar; oak-framed and with texts carved into the timber.  The main text carved on the front gable reads:

‘Suffer little children to come unto me’…

and is often misunderstood. It is a verse from the King James translation of the gospels, meaning…

‘Let the children come to me’.

The Martineau’s obviously intended the room to be used as a Sunday School. This was Edward Henry Martineau’s last building.  He died before it was completed, and there is a memorial inscription at the south end.

The Priory Room is used for village events


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