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Thursday, 15 June 2017

Flixton church of St Mary

This church dedicated to St Mary stands on a hillock in a wooded area looking down unnoticed from the village below

The first thing which catches the eye is the unusual top to it’s tower, this was built in the mid C19  - the original tower had fallen down in the 1830s.
When I first came here last year there were workmen busy repairing the roof, so it was nice on my return to witness what a splendid job had been done in incorporating the new wood into the origin beams inside.

The nave is light and airy due to the large clear perpendicular windows, in sharp contrast to the darkness of the neo-Norman chancel which has stained glass in it’s windows 



I liked this large candle holder in the chancel

The imposing large square font at the West end is a replica of a Norman style

The interior is full of family memorials to two families – the Tasburgh family who after the reformation owned Flixton Hall including the church, but as they were of the Roman Catholic faith it’s doubtful if they ever worshipped here, and this is probably the reason why the church was left to fall into ruins.  After the Tasburgh family died out it went into the hands of the Adair family who were responsible for rebuilding the church in the mid C19 century... Lord Waveney even had a small octagonal chapel added on in 1902 at the West end of the North aisle, he dedicated this to his wife Theodosia Adair (Lady Waveney) and commissioned a life size statue of her to stand in there.






Monday, 29 May 2017

Heckingham St Gregory's church

This early medieval thatched roof church is contemporary with it’s more well known neighbour St Margaret’s in Hales.
This plain and a simple church is now redundant and under the care of the Church Conservation Trust…..It is one of the beast examples of a Norman country church in East Anglia. .Set down a narrow secluded stony lane, it could very easily be passed by without anyone noticing it. It stands aloof and proud on a small hillock, above it’s makeshift car parking area.
The tower which began as round was later heightened in an octagonal mode.

 The South side of the church boasts a very fine Norman doorway, It’s beauty is breath-taking!..It has very fine elaborate patterned carvings and the four shafts on either side have decorated capitals…It is quite over powering inside this small C15 porch.

The blocked up Norman door on the North side of the church is extremely plain by comparison.

The nave with it’s steep arch braced roof exudes a feeling of tranquillity,  and this church has one of the few remaining early medieval apsidal chancels. The shape of these chancels went out of fashion quite quickly when the straight sided walled chancels came into favour.



The sturdy square Norman font is supported on a central stem and four corner shafts
                                                               Details of Font >>

We can still see the recess in the SE corner of the nave where stairs to the rood screen used to be.

A charming stained glass window adorns the central East window

I found two interesting ledger stones, to  Mary Crow d.1666 and Mary Crowe d 1659 both daughters of John and Elizabeth Crowe…it was quite usual for parents in those days to name a subsequent child after one that had previously died. (notice the letter *e* has been missed from the surname on one of the stones).  Stones to other members of the Crowe family are in the church.

An old bier dated 1903 is standing at the rear of the church
I was surprised not to find any early wall paintings, I was expecting to see the inner walls similar to the ones in the neighbouring church of St Margaret in Hales. Nevertheless the interior of this church is quite charming





 On the day I visited this lovely church it was disappointing to see the churchyard so massively overgrown, some of it was shoulder high and too difficult to walk round. 



 I do hope someone tends to it soon.



Sunday, 14 May 2017

Raveningham St Andrew's church

The church of St Andrew stands adjacent to the Hall in Raveningham Park, so a leisurely drive through the park with grazing sheep sparing us an indifferent sidelong glance was a pleasant introduction to what lay ahead.



This manor including the church was founded by the Castell family in the medieval era, and was then passed by marriage to the Bacon family who still reside here to this day.
One approaches St Andrew’s via a railed off pathway from the park, and on first impression the church appears quite unremarkable, with it’s outside covered in a putty coloured rendering.   The C12 round tower had an octagonal belfry added atop in the C13 with a further castellated top added in the C15
Considerable restoration work to the church was also carried out in the  C19.



One enters by the church by the South door, with it’s three  impressive iron work crosses on it’s face.

The first thing which meets the eye is a huge square marble memorial to Major Edward Hodge who died in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo.


The lovely font is in the familiar C15 East Anglian style.   The pulpit is probably C19



The chancel is the most eye catching part of the church. There is a ledgerstone with a splendid brass depicting an image of Margaret Castell with her hands clasped in prayer..she died in 1483

Alongside the South wall of the chancel is the tomb of the medieval founder Roger Castell, this lies under a C14 Arch which is extravagantly carved with an excess of foliage.



A series of smaller arches built and decorated in a similar vein are to be found along both the North and South walls of the chancel… each of these contain a memorial plaque to a member of the Bacon family – from the early 1800s  up to the most recent family death in 1982..




Many early Castell and the later Bacon family ledgerdstones can be found in the church.



The war memorial is in the church grounds










Thursday, 4 May 2017

Haddiscoe, St Mary's church

When I last visited this church some years ago it was on a wet miserable day, and the interior of the church seemed to exude the same dismal aura. This second visit on a bright warm summer’s day proved that first impressions aren’t always correct, as this church is utterly charming! It stands on a grassy knoll overlooking the surrounding countryside.
The chequerboard top to the tower is C15 and tops what is essentially a Saxon tower which has an internal diameter of just eight feet

The C15 south porch protects a very fine Norman doorway which has a contemporary stone carved plaque above it depicting a figure of a seated priest with a dove over his head



High above the tower belfry arch remains a Saxon doorway into the tower which looks down into the nave


A North aisle was added adjacent to the nave in the C13




The church has undergone some restoration over the years, although a C13 double piscina in the SE wall of the chancel remains in situ

A window on both sides of the chancel are blocked up

On the nave wall fragments of medieval paintings are still visible, The clearest one is over the arcade into the north aisle and is of St Christopher holding the Christ child,  This particular subject is frequently seen in medieval wall paintings situated opposite the church entrance,...He is the patron saint of travellers and it was thought people passing through would have a safe day after seeing his image

The C15 font is in the traditional East Anglia style but now has a modern cover.

There are some interesting ledgerstones
 in the church. I was fascinated by one let into the nave aisle. It is in Dutch, but the translation reads “In memory of Bele daughter of John, wife of Peter the Dykegraff, who died 2nd December 1525” (It was during this time that many men from the Netherlands settled in Britain to help with our land reclamation)
An influential family by the name of Grimmer resided in Haddiscoe during the mid C19  and not only is there a large headstone outside near the porch entrance for them, but there’s also an ornate memorial plaque mounted on the North wall of the North aisle for George Grimmer Esq, his wife Lucy, and their children Willian, George and Laura Augusta 

I was hoping to find a plaque attached to the outside of the churchyard’s South wall for William Slater – he was a coachman in the C18 who met an untimely death when his coach crashed on the Norwich Turnpike which was directly below the mound where the church and churchyard stand…The plaque was placed on the wall high above the exact spot where the crash happened.. Unfortunately with the churchyard being on high ground the surrounding wall has collapsed over the centuries into the wide expanse of verdant overgrowth of trees and bushes which fall to the track below, making discovery of Mr Slater’s epitaph impossible to find. No doubt three hundred years ago no-one imagined how much the countryside would change during the ensuing years.