VISITORS and churchgoers were given the opportunity to see rare and special artefacts more than 500 years old.
On Monday, St Mary the Virgin Church, in Mendlesham, opened the heavy doors to its ancient armoury.
Father Philip Gray took budding historians on tours of the church including a special visit into the armoury, which boasts dozens of rare objects.
The important collection includes an Elizabethan long bow, one of only four in existence, as well as four complete sets of armour from the 16th century. Father Gray is particularly proud of an extremely rare armour shoulder piece, called a pauldron, which is thought to be one of the only full pieces in existence.
Also on display were a number of other objects such as a 1717 Vinegar Bible and a 17th century book of sermons.
Father Gray said: “This is one of the best collections in the country. It’s no good having it and shutting it up forever.”
The armoury was originally built as a safe room to keep the church valuables in and still houses a number of chests from medieval, Tudor, Victorian and Jacobian periods. When the barons’ armies were abolished villages formed small armies and kept weapons and armour in the church.
The church will hold further open days in the future.