St Bartholomew's Church, pictured on this page, contains the tombs of the parents of John Winthrop, who was leader of the disillusioned puritans who fled England during the reign of Charles I.
In a land of flint churches, Groton's church stands out more than most due to its honest simplicity. St Bartholomew's has interior walls of a fine Suffolk pink and despite its relatively unprepossessing interior, the church has become a shrine for visiting Bostonians, and the recipient of considerable sums from its benefactor, 'The Winthrop family in America fund for Groton church'.
There is very little evidence left here of the medieval life and liturgy of the building, but it is, of course, in an excellent state of repair. Essentially 15th century, the fine clerestory gives an unusually narrow feel to the nave. There is a curious squint from the porch into the south aisle. Elsewhere, much is 19th and 20th century, including the Madonna in the north aisle niche and there can be few other churches in England with the heraldic symbol of a Native American chief featured in its ironwork.
A large window of the 1890s pairs Moses handing out the Ten Commandments with Christ's Sermon on the Mount. The dedication underneath records John Winthrop's achievements.
There are also retrospective memorials to John Winthrop's first two wives. In the 15th century, fortunes were made from the cloth trade in this area, and churches were often rebuilt by benefactors and this is when St Bartholomew acquired its clerestory. The rood screen has long gone, and there is no original glass. Not much splendour compared with the nearby glories of Kersey, Edwardstone, Boxford, Monks Eleigh and Lavenham, yet a peace and warmth exudes from its thick stone walls.
But St Bartholomew has one more surprise up its sleeve. Outside in the churchyard is Suffolk's oldest outdoor memorial, to the Kedbyes. It dates from 1598, but the epitaph is now illegible.