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Sunday, 12 March 2017

St Cross/St George, South Elmham

This tall austere looking church enjoys a lofty setting on rising ground. The church was first dedicated to the Holy Cross and then again to St George, so it known by both names. This is the largest church in this benefice and on entering I received a feeling of aloofness – this is no rustic country church! 
One enters via the late C14 porch which shelters a fine Norman doorway and medieval door which has wrought strap hinges

 On the r-hand jamb of the door arch is an example of C17 graffiti  

A large C14 waggon chest stands just inside the nave, it is banded with iron and has many hinges and locks to secure it, this was once used to house important records pertaining to the church.

To the right of this door arch is a Holy Water stoup - and a second Holy Water stoup can be found just inside the church in the South wall.

The church is very tall and has clerestory windows on either side to deliver more light into the church – this is unusual for a church which has no arcades or side aisles

C18 Decalogue panels hang on either side of the tower arch.... 

...and a nice painting of The Raising of Lazarus hangs in the arch of the blocked Norman north door. 

 An early C15 font stands in front of this picture. 

The nave has an arched braced roof and it’s wall posts rest on demi angel corbels – inbetween them are shields

The chancel was replaced in the C19 and now the only remaining evidence of a rood screen is the rood stairway now blocked at the top

The panels of the reredos behind the altar has depictions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St George flanking the Angus Dei (lamb of God) 

There remains a simple C14 piscina with a trefoil arch in the south wall of the sanctuary 

The chancel has pleasing Victorian floor tiles, and some of the choir stalls have animal heads to their pew ends 

I love the vibrancy of the early C20 stained glass in the East window depicting the crucifixion 

The large churchyard is quite steep to negotiate for anyone not too nimble on their feet.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

St Andrew's church, Gorleston

This is a large urban church dating from the C13 which I visited toward the end of last year. It has had additions and restorations in C14, C15 and C19  and sits in a huge sprawling churchyard…In the year 1800 all headstones over 35years old were removed by the then incumbent, and the remaining stones were placed about ten feet apart from each other standing like rows of soldiers on parade. .
Walking round the outside of the church the three gabled East chapels look very impressive..these date from the 1872 restoration..  I like the wrought iron gates which protect the south porch doorway, and inside the porch there is a stone coffin lid let into the wall on either side of the church door .

The church interior is a wide open space with eight bay arcades which stretch the length of the church, dividing the nave from the chancel and side chapels.  Up until recent years the nave held bench pew seating, but it was decided to replace this with individual chairs….I can see the convenience of this, but I would have preferred to have seen the original wooden benches which would have complemented the rest of the wood carving in the church
 At one time a carved oak screen stretched across the church dividing the nave from the chancel and side chapels.

Every window in the church contains stained glass – some better quality than others.

A huge Royal Arms of Charles 1st dated 1644 is displayed under the west window of the south chapel

There are many wall plaques and memorial around the church – a few are dedicated to men who were once choir boys here 
My favourite part of this church is the Lady(north)chapel. It has a fine wooden reredos, and attached to it’s north wall is a late C13 Brass for Sir John Bacon. This disappeared at the time the iconoclast  William Dowsing  and his men ransacked the churches of all their imagery – 200 years later the brass was found in a private collection and was returned to it’s rightful place in this church

   In front of the Bacon Brass stands a splendid C14 oak chest which has iron straps 

  Further west along the north wall is a board which shows us a table of C19 church expenses   

 Standing between the Bacon Brass and this board is a glorious Easter sepulchre with a decorated ogee arch…this is now used as the entrance through to the vestry and the new meeting rooms.  

  Also in this Lady chapel is a nice C14 piscina in the south wall near the altar

The small chapel south of the chancel is dedicated to the men who have lost their lives through the misery of war.

On the south side of the altar in the chancel is a Norman altar stone which was unearthed in 1870, this was cleaned and placed here.  

The octagonal seven sacrament font which stands at the west end of the nave is badly defaced – it must have looked magnificent when new

This is a splendid urban church with a thriving congregation

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Henstead with Hulver - St Mary's church

This church which now stands alone alongside a narrow busy country road blends in quietly with it’s surroundings. Ever since this road was built some years ago the graveyard is on both sides of the road, so I assume road was built through the churchyard!       I had to park my car a fair distance away from the church, as it has no parking facilities itself,  thankfully it wasn’t raining on the day I visited.  I think parishioners of this church must be tempted to stay at home in inclement weather conditions, unless they don’t mind sitting in their wet clothes for the duration of a service.
A church has stood on this site for nine hundred and fifty years. It is thought it’s  North wall was built  c1066 - the same time as William conquered England…the lower part of this North wall is built in uncut flint in a herringbone style, which suggests early Norman, and it’s believed these stones were brought over from Caen in France (this is unverified)
 The grand South Norman doorway from the 1100s contains very fine carving, this must be one of the best Norman doorways I’ve seen....

 It is protected by a C15  porch.
There is a Holy Water stoop from c1470 in the porch...this was repaired in 2010 
The north doorway is also from the same period

 The tower was built c1470 and has a castellated top with gargoyles

In 1641 a fire from a nearby farmhouse spread to the church and is thought to have burnt the carved benches and much of the interior woodwork, plus badly damaging the chancel. The chancel was subsequently rebuilt but on a smaller scale than the original.
The windows in the church are in the decorated style of  mid C14
This is East window is the only stained glass window left in the church

In the SW corner of the nave is a banner-stave locker for holding the processional cross etc.

There are some nice memorials in the church, including this impressive wall tablet for the Mitchell family and a memorial cross for G.F.Farmiloe, killed in action 1917

The church was restored in the mid C19 and again in 1906. Originally there had been a three-decker pulpit here, but this was removed along with the box pews during the 1906 restoration…they were replaced by the oak pulpit and pews which are very plain,- these seem to suit this simple country church.

<<  font

There is no division between the nave and the chancel, but niches in the walls point to a screen having been here in earlier times.

There are some charmimg communion rails in the chancel which were added in the 1906 restoration.

After king Charles ll came to the throne in 1660 the orthodox Church of England style of religion returned to this church…it had previously followed Puritan worship while under Oliver Cromwell.
The graveyard extends to the other side of the busy road. this is where the war memorial stands

Sunday, 18 December 2016

We have reached that joyous time of year again… Christmas.  

    My only concession to early Christmas preparations is the making of the Christmas cake and mincemeat which I usually do in October
….I start preparations in earnest once December has arrived, first with sorting out and writing Christmas cards, and then making my gift list, which more often than not gets revised a few times before the actual purchases begin…I never leave it until Christmas Eve to shop for presents, I like mine all to be wrapped before then, so that I can spend the last few days prior to Christmas day concentrating on what food to get in for over the festive period.

    I love to see all the shops and department stores come alive with Christmas decorations while carols play quietly in the background, and the excited chatter of children with their eyes round in wonderment takes me back to when my own children were young enough to believe in all the magic that Christmas brings

     Although my children had all the commercial trappings that go with Christmas, first and foremost they were taught the true meaning of Christmas....sadly I  think some of the young children today can’t see any connection between the birth of Jesus and Christmas – they have been born into a world which is so materialistic. For them Christmas is all about how many presents will be waiting at the foot of their bed ready to be opened when they wake on Christmas morning.

I have researched many families from the 18th and 19th centuries –only a few were wealthy enough to indulge in the festive trappings at Christmas, the majority found Christmas Day just another day to have to survive through… Times were extremely harsh for the ordinary working people two hundred years ago, children were very lucky if their parents could give them an apple or an orange as a Christmas treat.

If I had a magic wand I’d have all families reunited for Christmas – it’s a time for love, forgiveness and above all hope – hope that our future will be happy, healthy and peaceful….
                                                            Happy Christmas 

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

South Elmham, St Margaret's church

This is a lovely country church situated on a bend in a narrow road which curves itself around two sides of the churchyard. 
As with many churches St Margaret’s underwent restoration in the mid C19
The tower is unusual as it has no parapet. Around it’s base is lovely flushwork, and small windows placed in various positions enhance the tower stair turret
The old village stocks now stand in the porch of the church, these are unusual as they contain five holes

The porch is two storey with a small contemplation room above the entrance.

A scratch dial can be easily seen on the West quoin of the South wall, with traces of two more.

The fine South doorway is Norman

The early C15 font standing in front of the tower arch is in the style frequently seen in East Anglian churches

Over the small door leading up to the tower is some splendid C17 graffiti which includes the name John Sallynge 1627

All the church furnishings are from the C19

On the walls around the church are what look like Victorian oil lamp holders 

On the South side of the nave wall is a splendid example of a Norman slit window

The rood loft stairs remain in situ in the NE wall of the nave 

The chancel arch was renewed in the C19

In the C14 chancel NE wall is a lovely early C16 Easter Sepulchre 

.... and in the sanctuary on the south side of the altar are two badly deteriorated dado panels which were originally part of the old rood screen

The East window contains vibrant stained glass from the 1880s 

 A few fragments of medieval glass have been rescued and are now displayed in a glass case mounted on the SE wall in the sanctuary 

It had started raining heavily as I left the church so I cut short my exploration around the churchyard, but one thing I found interesting was the number of gravestones in one section close to the tower all belonging to the Lord family from the late C19 and early C20

This is a charming homely country church which I intend to revisit