1. Bell Mouse
Why hello there! Welcome, welcome. Look up at the ceiling, friend! If you look straight up, there should be a hatch. On the other side of this hatch is where the bell ringers would stand to ring the bells for important occasions. We have 10 here at St Peter’s, the same number as the ones at St Paul’s cathedral all the way in London! That’s a long way for a mouse to walk… Here’s a fun fact: the oldest bell here is over 500 years old! The bells, you see, are very important. It’s tradition to ring them for royal weddings, but prepare yourself, they are very loud! Especially to mouse ears like mine.
Let me take you back to a long, long time ago. All the way back to 1863 when the Prince of Wales got married. A time of joy and harmony all around. Weddings are a wonderful thing, they bring people together, and I’m sure you have imagined your own wedding day at least once. But the problem with this wedding was that the Rector, John Molyneux, was not happy with the wedding taking place because it was during the time of Lent. However, the bellringers decided to rebel against this, and broke into the church at 5 am to ring the bells! They were very determined and continued to ring the bells all day. The local townsfolk decided to pitch in, too. They kept the bellringers fed and watered by sending baskets up the side of the tower! The ancestors in my small mouse family had the luck of seeing this all occur. What a wonderful time of community.
2. Stained Glass Mouse
Wow! Look at the massive window! I love the bright colours and how it twinkles in the sunlight. Every window contains a story from the Bible. My dad says a picture paints a thousand words. These windows do the same.
This one tells the story of St. Michael and how he slayed a dragon, a bit like St. George the patron saint of England. The dragon represents the devil. St. Michael slaying it represents good overcoming evil.
Some people get St. George mixed up with St. Michael, but there is a special way to spot the difference. If you look closely, you can see St. Michael has wings because he’s an angel, in fact, one of the most important On a sunny day, the light shines through and makes beautiful patterns on the floor. Can you spot all the colours? Have a look around and see all the other windows. Do you know what stories they tell?
3. Angel Mouse
I walk down the aisle of the church, tapping my small mouse hands on the cold floor, but something catches my eye, ’Mother! Mother! What’s this?’
My Mother turns to me giggling, ‘Percy! Calm down. You’re going to knock something over with your tail’
‘But look at this angel, it has a strange carving…It’s like a forked beard.’
‘Yes, it does, and if you look above you, you will see there are many other angels and beasts!’
‘Woah I can see them! They look so cool!’
‘They’re made of stone or carved into the wood of the church many decades ago and there used to be more angels on the roof.’
‘Well…What happened to them, Mother?’
‘You’re a very curious little mouse, aren’t you?’
‘I know! Now please tell me what happened to the angels and beasts!’
‘Ok Ok! In 1643, a man named William “Smasher” Dowsing, ordered by the government, broke down a picture of God the Father, two crucifixes and pictures of Christ. Then, he gave orders to take down the cross off the steeple. That day, he and his men caused massive destruction to the church, leaving angels like this destroyed.’
‘Were any other churches destroyed like this?’ ‘Churches in Sudbury like St. Gregory’s and All Saints were also destroyed, but now we can go to these Churches and remember all their history and stories.
4. Font Mouse
Good day. How do you do? My name is Perdita. You’ll find I’m simply the best mouse here. Obviously, there’s not a lot of competition.
If you managed to notice, this old bowl-looking thing here is the font of this church. If you don’t know what a font is, I suppose I will explain it to you. This is used to baptise humans, typically young ones.
A few hundred years ago – the 1600s to be quite exact, it was moved outside by the mayor at the time, John Cook, to be used as a trough to water the horses. Unfortunately, the horses that rested here strangely refused to drink from it at all, and so it was moved back inside.
If you make it to the back of the church outside, to the graveyard railings, there’s another water trough there that was honourably mentioned in the lovely book 101 Dalmatians by the wonderful Dodie Smith. She clearly took inspiration from my name for her characters, and I’m obviously not surprised, what with my name being so nice and all.
I am far better than the others; you should understand by now. I make sure her memorial remains nice and shiny by getting… them, well, the other mice, to thoroughly clean it for me. Please would you go and have a look?
5. Pilgrim Graffiti Mouse
Oh! Hello there. Have a look around the Lady Chapel. Tell me, what can you see? If you look closely, you might be able to see the graffiti etched into the wall. It is believed that this graffiti was made by pilgrims travelling to Bury St Edmunds.
The art is of a peacock, and I personally wouldn’t like to get very close to them, they’re very large in comparison to a little mouse like me! But they are undoubtedly beautiful to look at. If you look at some of the other pillars, you can find even more graffiti! It’s often given a bad name these days, but back then, many years ago, back in the Medieval times, these mason marks and protection marks you can see were believed to keep bad spirits away!
6. Chancel Mouse
Hello, I’m Martin Mouse, and I hope you like my story, although it is quite sad. This one is about John Molyneux, who was a Canon of St Peter’s for many years. In July 1859, his daughter sadly passed away. On a Friday evening, her coffin was carried from her home to St Peter’s by her father, two other clergy, a doctor, an undertaker, and other men.
Her father was too upset to lead the service so the other two priests had to do it, while he sat at his daughter’s coffin. My great-aunt said she knew the Canon’s daughter when she was little, and she was the sweetest little girl ever. Apparently, the Canon never got over his loss and mourned for her every day. Her passing is very sad but hopefully, she’s happy now, may her soul rest in peace forever.
7. Choir Mouse
Hello, I’m Mary Mouse and my story is about music, which is one of my favourite things – do you like music? I like to sit in the pews in here and think about all the songs that have been sung over time, 600 years in fact! That’s quite a long time, isn’t it?
The pews for the choir are actually the only ones left in the church, where the choir used to sit while waiting to sing the daily Evensong. I wish I could go back in time and listen to all of the voices singing, it would be magical. Why don’t you try and imagine all the voices now, I’ll give you a moment… Did you hear them? Sometimes I can’t hear them, so it’s ok if you couldn’t.
Did you know that the choir used to be made up of thirty men and boys? Women weren’t allowed to be in the choir, but now they are, which I think is much better. In fact, we still have concerts sometimes, maybe you could come to one?
My sisters and I always compete with our brothers to see who can sing the best, and they think they always win, but we do really!
I also like to look up at the painted ceiling, isn’t it pretty?! Look at all of the angels, can you see what they’re carrying? Which one do you like the most? My favourite is the angel with the book, because I like to read stories.
Speaking of which, I’ve got to go and find a story to read to my little sister, so goodbye! I hope you liked my story and you can come to a concert soon.
8. Organ Mouse
Halloo! My name’s Pip! I’m up here, yes, in the organ! Did you know, this is the 4th organ to be housed here? Anyways, have you come to listen to my story about it? Have you? Really!? Then, listen up and I’ll tell you the story of this here organ, passed down from my…
Great, great, great, great, great, great… grandfather? They’re about 37 greats in there. This all happened in 1911, you see – a very good long time ago!
Back then, there was a small mouse that lived here. This organ is very loud during the sermons and songs, so the small mouse and his family had to hide in the cracks of the walls! But, a few times, this mouse dared to venture out to enjoy the singing and music that filled the church; and, apparently, he wasn’t the only one that snuck out.
The organ player – Mr Edward Ellis Vinnicombe! He snuck out of the church during the longer sermons to nip to the pub for a quick pint and a sandwich… then he’d make it back just in time to play the next one. Very cheeky!
Sometimes, though, if he had a cheese sandwich the mice family got a few crumbs of pub cheese. Quite a treat! You should scurry along now; I’ve got more of you humans to share my wonderful stories wi- WAIT! COME BACK!
Oh, you’re still here? Please can you help me count how many pipes there are? I simply can’t reach them all and I’d love your help!
9. Pews Mouse
Hello! Let me tell you what happened to me the other day…The beams of sunlight shining through the stained glass were making small colourful paths for me to hop over but while I played in the bright lights, I noticed there was an old mouse in the nave..in an empty space.
‘Ha Ha Ha! An empty space in the nave you say? How about I tell you the story of how this came to be and how there are no pews in sight.’ said the old mouse.
‘What do you know about the empty space? Who are you?’
‘Well, I’m a churchgoer. I come to St. Peters all the time, mostly for the free cheese crumbs, but also because I love to learn about this church’s history.’
‘If you know so much, tell me about the space and maybe I can give you some leftover cheese!’
‘Deal! It all started in 1859 when Rev Canon Molyneux sold the pews against the wishes of the congregation. These long benches were removed during the night of 30th March to be sold at the market the next morning, but an injunction was secured by parishioners to prevent the sale from being continued…’
‘Well, what happened next?’
‘The auctioneer received the demand on the podium but announced he was too busy to read it, so he put it in his pocket to read after the sale was complete.’
‘Thanks for sharing, now I can tell all my brothers and sisters! Oh, and here is your block of cheese!’
10. Golden Mouse
Hello! My name is Philip Mouse and I’m here to tell you a story about my mouse ancestors from a long long time ago.
On a very windy morning, Peter unlocked the huge gates of the place where he worked. He turned the key and noticed how the pearly gates glistened in the golden sunlight. But just as the gates swung open, the key flung out of his hand and dropped just out of reach.
He knew his boss would be angry as he wanted everyone to meet him, even though no one had met him in a while. But no one could get in! Peter was afraid he was going to lose his job. Oh, dear!
He knelt and looked between the narrow gap of the pearly gates and could see the key! If only he could reach it. Just then he saw a creature scuttling around his feet. It was a mouse! A rather chubby one in fact.
“Where did you come from?” asked Peter.
“From the church at the top of the hill,” squeaked the mouse.
“You’ve come a long way then”
“I must travel a long way from home as there is nothing to eat. I am a poor church mouse and not even the pilgrims want to visit us.”
“Do you know what? If you could squeeze through the gate and get the key, I will give you cheese to your family for generations to come!”
“I don’t know,” said the mouse. “The little ones are coming, and I don’t know if I can feed them all. But I’ll try.”
The mouse squeezed through the gate and dragged the key. She struggled as it was so heavy, and she was only a little mouse. But she heaved and heaved and eventually, she pulled it through to the other side of the gate.
“Well done!” said Peter, “I will honour my promise and give you all the cheese you need.”
Peter picked the key up, opened the gate and went inside. A few moments after, he returned with a plate of cheese.
“Oh, thank you!” squealed the mouse, “Now I won’t starve when the little ones come.”
“You and your church will never go hungry again!” said Peter joyously.
When the mouse’s time came, she gave birth to only one mouse, a little girl. She was not grey or brown or white like the other mice, but her fur glistened like gold in the sunlight, and she had big, black eyes.
News of this Golden Mouse spread and pilgrims from far and wide came to see this miracle. The Golden Mouse later had her own golden baby, and she had her golden baby, and it will go on forever and ever. The church on the hill was named St. Peters and the people and mice were never poor again.