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Sunday, 20 July 2014

St Margaret's church Stoven

 I had been warned beforehand not to expect too much from this church, as it wasn’t the best work the Victorians had undertaken in restoration.

So I was quite pleasantly surprised when I entered the church through the heavily restored North Norman doorway…the South Norman doorway is more impressive and inspirational having hardly been touched, and  has the remains of a scratch dial on it’s adjacent church wall.

        South doorway

At a cursory glance the structure of the church looks quite appealing, and it’s only on closer inspection that the flaws become evident, as some of the mid C19 work seems a little crudely done in places. The Victorian restorers here at  Stoven, for whatever reason – (possibly they wanted a continuity in style) decided to imitate the Norman way of doing things….sadly it could have been done better.

Inside the building is narrow with plastered ceilings and has a large elegant chancel arch.

In the chancel there are Decalogue boards on either side of the East window.

The pew benches, choir stalls and the square pulpit are solid and  pleasing to the eye.

Oddly, the font actually appears to be from an early date, although curiously it looks as if it’s made up from stone from different eras.

 I found the square flint West tower a little disconcerting, it doesn’t seem to sit comfortably alongside the rest of the church….I need to find out more about when this slim tower was built

St Margarets is a church which in 1990 was saved from redundancy  as a result of a parishioners campaign, so I was disappointed to find there was hardly anything there to excite my curiosity or imagination….but for anyone who just wants to enjoy viewing a church – whatever the style, then I don’t think they will be disappointed in this church nor it's delightful churchyard.

 North side of

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Joining the Bats in St Peter's church. Mundham

It was by sheer chance that I happened to be driving past this church on one of the very few times it is open..The churchwarden was in the churchyard awaiting a visit from the *bat person* for advice on how to protect the church interior from bat urine.
….The church is usually kept locked on account of the numerous thefts from the church.
The church warden saw my interest and kindly allowed me to explore the interior of the church, telling me to take my time writing notes and taking photographs.

The church stands atop of a mound with it’s graveyard sloping down toward the road, and is constructed of flint and rubble, as are so many other churches of this type. The perpendicular tower topped with flushwork battlements appears to be C15 and ‘grew’ to it’s full height through various stages.

My joy at seeing the splendid South Norman doorway became a little muted when I saw the church porch, it was built at a later date and too narrow to have been abutted to the archway correctly.

You can see in picture how the sides of the Norman archway have been lost

After entering the church, to the West at the base of the tower is a relatively modern font which is very plain. In the corner behind is the remains of a square Norman font, and a long niche carved into the North side of the tower wall, is where all church banners were stored. On the opposite tower wall there’s a Tudor brick faced oven which was not discovered until 1931

Modern font

           Norman font

....Opposite the south door the church has a medieval wall painting (possibly of St Christopher) which is unfortunately partially covered by a C19 memorial plaque
The poppyhead carvings on the end of the pews are C15, but I was unable to tell if the pews themselves were from that date also.
The C15 rood screen would no doubt originally looked quite splendid, but sadly it's painted dado panels are now in a distressed state and have lost almost all of their hourglass stand is attached to the south side of the screen, this was used to time the length of the preacher's sermons.

In  the chancel's south wall remain a C15 piscina for washing the chalice and the sedilla, where the clergy sat

The beautifully carved reredos  is the work of Mrs Hicks who was a rector’s wife in 1908

 This church has a narrow interior without a chancel arch, which makes it look larger inside than it really is.

 It's a really delightful place to worship. I wished I could have spent longer, but I didn’t want to disturb the *bat person* any longer J

Thursday, 3 July 2014

St Andrew's Raveningham

This area is set in a quiet backwater of rural Norfolk, and is possibly one of the first places the Saxon’s settled when they came to Britain.
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 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 style and the pulpit is probably C19

Church Interior

The chancel is the most eye catching part of the church. There is a ledgerstone with a splendid Brass depicting 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 1820  up to the most recent family death in 1982..
                     Early Castell family ledgerstones in the church

                                      war memorial in churchyard

Saturday, 28 June 2014

St Andrew's Church, Framlingham Pigot

When I turned the bend in the road leading to St Andrew’s church I had a surprise – almost a shock at what faced me -  the tower of the church looked like a minaret, rising up toward the sky… this was not what I was expecting to see on a Christian church…
I was totally intrigued and could hardly wait to find out the reason why this church didn’t have a traditional type Christian tower. Sadly there was no exciting explanation. It was built like that on the whim of Mr George Christie, a  wealthy local landowner who thought the original run-down round towered church was not in keeping with the ‘modern’ houses he’d had constructed for his employees, so he commissioned Robert Kerr in 1859 to build a new ornate church in it's place.

The church is mainly constructed of flint but the off-set tower is stone. This may appear incongruous to some people (me included) but, as the saying goes ‘each to his own’’

Inside the church is a delightful pulpit,

... and high above the chancel arch is a most unusual doom depiction…it has Christ sitting in judgement and flanked by two angels.

The square font serves it's purpose although it's not to my own particular taste

The chancel has a beautifully painted ceiling with impressive corbel heads

...and in the Sanctuary is an old piscina - perhaps this was saved from the ruins when the original church was demolished, although it could just have easily been brought in from elsewhere.

The C19 stained glass windows are really quite lovely and show good workmanship

 I really liked the church porch with it’s statuette of St Andrew in the niche above it’s door
This immaculate church is set between fields in rural Norfolk and appears to follow the high church tradition…

…Even if at first glance the outward appearance is a surprise to many who visit, I hope they remain open minded, as St Andrew’s turns out to be a real C19 treasure.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

St Peter's church, Brooke

In common with many Norfolk churches St Peter’s is built mainly of flint with some red brick buttresses. The church is built onto the Norman round tower and lies in the heart of a large village. It is a friendly and welcoming building to enter.

The simple porch has a niche above it’s arch which contains a modern statue of St Peter… possibly a medieval statue of the saint originally stood here.
 The  fine C15 door of the inner South doorway still has it’s sanctuary ring in situ

The church itself is a mixture of architectural styles – rather confusing, but nonetheless delightful
    The beautiful Seven Sacrament font is from the C15 which has eight saints surrounding it’s stem, sadly these saints are now all headless.
The nave, North aisle and chancel although originally C14 have since undergone extensive alterations and repairs.

The fine arch braced nave ceiling has corbels of carved angels holding shields.
The nave would seem quite dark except for the relief of  light coming from the eight clerestory windows in the North aisle.
In the South wall of the sanctuary is a C13 double piscina, and set into the same South wall in the nave near the door is a holy water stoup.

Most of the glass in this church is plain, but there are two stained glass East windows, which are memorials to the Brigham family who resided in Brooke during the 19th and 20th centuries.

The oak perpendicular pulpit is from the mid C19…One item of interest and not often seen, is the bracket above the pulpit which was used to hold an hourglass for timing the length of the sermons.

          The lectern is unusual and impressive 

The box pews were replaced by open benches in the mid C19 restoration of the church, and it was during this restoration that some medieval wall paintings were discovered, these were recorded and re-washed over with lime to preserve them.

The earliest registers for St Peter’s date from 1558 and are held in the Norfolk Records Office.

A lovely war memorial stands in the churchyard.

This may not be one of the most beautiful of churches but it has some very interesting points to explore.