Notable as the location for the first performances of four of the works of the composer Benjamin Britten and mentioned in Simon Jenkin’s England’s Thousand Best Churches.
The Church of St Bartholomew was built in Orford at approximately the same time as the Castle c.1165-1173. This Norman church was a large cruciform building with a central tower. Two of the massive pillars which once supported the central tower survive inside the church. The most impressive Norman remains are those of the chancel which now stands as ruins to the east of the present church.
The central tower and the entire nave of the Norman church were demolished around 1320-1340 and replaced with a new nave, and a tower at the west end. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the Norman chancel was abandoned and walled off. In 1830 part of the tower collapsed and it remained in this state until it was restored in the 1960s and 1970s.
More information about the restoration can be found in The Wallace Connection Publication. Inside the church there is a 15th-century font with “four lions and four wild men” surrounding its base. The first performance of Benjamin Britten’s opera, Noye’s Fludde, took place in the church in 1958.
St Bartholomew’s Church Website