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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.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Thwaite..the Church of St Mary

I drove past this church a few years ago but was unable to stop to explore so I was determined to make a return visit to look inside…at long last I finally made it, and wasn’t disappointed in what I found here. The nave has a pretty thatched roof  (in which a Blue Tit had built a nest) and stands within a small well maintained churchyard.

It was rather odd to find that this rendered church has no windows at all on its North side. Entry is through a glorious Norman South doorway, which is surprisingly still in good condition with only a small amount of excellent repair work having taken place as it has no porch to protect it from the elements

Well defined scratch dials can be found on the West jamb of the door arch

The tower is C14 and has three small plain shields above a brick niche on it’s West wall…I’ve no idea of the significance of these as usually we find they have crests or some other identification on them.

The brick chancel was added on to the nave in 1737 and has a tiled roof. 

The interior of the church is very pleasant. The C18 rood screen is in the C18 Gothick style with trefoil arches

The C15 font is a puzzle as it has the familiar octagonal stem but supports a completely plain bowl. I wonder if this bowl originally came from some other church 

A tiny Regency organ nestles in the chancel, and resting on a nearby table is a 1877 bible.

 All the glass in the windows are plain as a result of an exploding WW2 bomb which shattered the previous ones.  The chancel ceiling of St Mary’s church is painted pale blue…I wonder if this is because that colour is associated with the Virgin Mary.
On the chancel North wall is a memorial tablet for Rev Richard Dreyer d. 1838 and his wife Eliza d. 1849
In the nave  three family tablets line the North wall – Richard Reeve MD is flanked by one for his son Richard Dreyer Reeve d.1834 aged 19, and one for his daughter Susan Catherine Reeve who died in 1821 aged 12 years. There’s no mention of the wife and mother

In the churchyard there is an isolated adult grave and two children’s graves in a line alongside the North wall, sadly I couldn’t read who these were for nor why they were situated in this position, but I think there must be a connection between them 

This is only a small graveyard but it is beautifully kept.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Holy Trinity, Gisleham

Last Good Friday I revisited this delightful church which is situated on the corner of a narrow road but stands well back from the road.
It’s round tower base is early Norman with an octagonal top added in the late C14
The wide C14 South Door is unusual as it is hinged down through it’s middle, making it possible to have only one side of it open if required. The door is protected by a large contemporary porch

Above the porch entrance is a niche which once held a statue, this is flanked by two damaged carved angels, and has shields carved across it’s parapet..
The porch has what appears to be heraldic reliefs carved around it’s arch and finished off with lion head stops
There is evidence of a weathered scratch dial on the buttress near the porch

A holy water stoup is let into the wall next to the church door.

The furnishings inside the church appear to be mainly Victorian, It’s white plastered barrel ceiling makes the church  light and airy. 

On the North wall of the nave are two lovely C14 windows with decorated tracery, and on their Eastern jambs are striking wall paintings - thought possibly to be of St Ursula and St Dorothy

In the mid C19 when the North porch was removed, the C12 North doorway was bricked up and a C19 window added above where it had stood.

The C14 chancel Arch has been removed with only part of it’s supports left in situ..

In the chancel is a C14 piscina and sedilia – an early C13 priest's coffin slab with a large cross on it acts as the seat of the sedilia.

Facing West inside the church one can view the two Decalogue boards hanging either side of the blocked up tower doorway…

A late C14 font with it’s decorated panels 
stands just below.

The pulpit and choir stalls are from the early C20, but some of the nave pews must be earlier as there is late C19 graffiti etched on the backs of some of the pews…I suspect this was probably done by children who grew restless having to sit through the long sermons.
                                                  On this Easter visit I found a lovely wooden cross standing in front of the altar and East window, which also poignantly displays the crucifixion of Christ.

 Whenever I revisit a church I always find something I've overlooked previously and yet there's always the pleasure of seeing the constant...

The graveyard here is a credit to the people who tend it.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

St Peter & St Paul church, Kelsale, Suffolk

This is a lovely church which has gone through two huge C19 restorations.  It set in a serene position in a quiet village.  The first thing which catches the eye is it’s most unusual C19 lych-gate which leads parishioners through an avenue of lime trees up to the south porch

The oak door into the church still retains it’s huge iron knocker.
-  also there’s a smattering of early graffiti around the door arch

Hanging from the porch roof is an large old converted gasolier

There's a small bright belfry to the West as
you enter the church.

- beyond this stands the sturdy low C15 font which has an interesting charity board on either side. with hatchments hanging above.

Below the large five-light West window stands a beautiful septych, this was meant to be the reredos to stand behind the altar at the East end of the chancel, but it covered too much of the East  window so was removed from there to it’s present position.

  A striking statue of Samuel Clouting who died July 1852 is let into the SW wall of the nave – he appears to have been a very philanthropic man.

There’s a beautiful C19 wrought iron screen with bronze figures which divides the chancel from the nave.

The nave contains a Jacobean carved pulpit which stands near the rood screen door.

Some nice stained glass adorns the church windows and a special one by William Morris is in the North wall of the chancel…this was added by Rev Irving Davies and his wife in memory of their daughter Georgina Mary Paulina who was born in Jerusalem in May 1850 but died August 1875>>

The South aisle was the the original church and now contains memorials to the C17 & C18 Russel families

Above the South door is a plaque dedicated toLancelot Brown, a rector here for 58 years…he was the grandson of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown the famed landscape gardener

There are many wall plaques and memorials of interest here

                                                                                                                                    Church interior
The fine North Norman doorway is thought to have been the original South entrance doorway  before being moved during one of the restorations…the Priest’s door in the South wall is it's contemporary                                                        priests' door >>

In the enormous graveyard are some headstones of particular interest –including an early C20 one of Sir Harry Courthope Munroe and his wife Dame Ellen which has their family crest depicted upon it.

                 Kelsale graveyard