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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Rockland St Mary's church,Norfolk

Situated in the village, it’s a short walk through the churchyard via a path which has a hooped railing fence on either side. The church has a slim tapering tower.
Opposite the Victorian porch stands a memorial cross dedicated to the men who lost their lives in WW2  

The church doorway is C14 and it’s door retains it’s original ring handle

As I entered the church I noticed an overwhelming fragrance of Lillies – this came from a beautifully arranged pedestal of flowers in the sanctuary

There's a C15 font which has angels and shields around it's bowl and some rather garish painted figures on it's stem.

 The pulpit was installed to commemorate the Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

..Sadly the church lost it’s thatched roof in 1892 , the same year as new pews were installed.

Ladders have to be used to go up into the belfry tower  

Two old roundel depictions  of Martha and Mary have been inserted into a window on the N side of the nave. And on the nave’s S side set into a niche in the chancel arch is a lovely statue of the blessed virgin 

In the sanctuary there is a memorial window in the N wall dedicated to Mary Holblack and the  stained  glass in the S window opposite depicts St George

I believe the rather fine reredos which was painted by the daughter of a Victorian vicar had some of the old rood screen inserted into it. 

Two poignant brasses in the sanctuary are for Robert Cocke who died June 1638 aged 22 and his infant son John who followed him four months later. 
I love the name on one ledgerstone in particular ‘Arranmynthea’wife of John Cook, she died in Nov 1792 six years after her husband.

Back out into the graveyard and a few metres East of St Mary’s chancel there are a few remaining   fragments of masonry, these belong to the church of St Margaret which was built at the same time as St Mary’s but  became a ruin over 300 years ago.

Along the NE side of the churchyard there is an unusual recent grave maker..I've never seen a similar epitaph anywhere else.

This is a fine church surrounded by it's neat and orderly churchyard

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

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 on 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.

Early roundel windows on both sides of the chancel are blocked up

 On the nave walls fragments of medieval paintings can still be seen, 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, usually 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..the translation reads "In memory of Bele daughter of John, wife of Peter the Dykestaff, who died 2nd December 1525" (It was during this time that many men came over from Holland and settled in Britain to help with Britain's land reclamation)

An influential family by the name of Grimmer resided in Haddiscoe during the mid C19 and apart from a large ornate memorial plaque in the North wall of the North aisle dedicated to George Grimmer, his wife Lucy and their children William, George and Laura Augusta, there's also a tall memorial gravestone outside in the churchyard for the family as well.                                                                                                                                                                                  I was hoping to find the 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 then Norwich turnpike, which was directly below the mound where the church and churchyard stand...His plaque was placed on the outer wall high above the exact pot where the crash happened.  Unfortunately on account of the church and churchyard being on high soft ground, the surrounding wall has now collapsed into the wide expanse of verdant growth of trees and bushes which cover the ground down to the track below. This made discovery of Mr Slater's epitaph impossible to find.  No doubt three hundred years ago no-one imagined how much the countryside would change over the ensuing years

There are some interesting headstones in the churchyard..I like the unusual surname on the one shown here 'Tiptod' ..I've never come across that name before.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Walpole St Mary's church

From the outside this looks like a charming little country church with it’s unusual tower, although I could see much restoration work has taken place here – possibly in the C19. It stands up a small steep incline away from the road.

It’s fine Norman doorway is protected from the weather by a later porch 

Sadly my first impression of the inside of the church wasn’t too favourable as it seemed untidy with chairs scattered haphazardly in the north aisle, and the tiled chancel floor in need of cleaning – maybe the church is used for other activities apart from services, which is good, however I do think a house of God should look inviting to visitors. Looking beyond this I found a few things of particular interest.

In the South wall by the entrance door is a Holy Water stoup where a small statue has found a home.

At the West end of the nave stands an odd medieval squat font, which I understand previously belonged in St Andrew’s church, Norwich 

The long chancel was bare and looked as if repair work may be about to take place as a two foot deep section all around the chancel walls had been taken back to the bare brick – perhaps because of rising damp? No-one was about for me to ask, so I was left none the wiser

The piscina and dropped sill sedilia in the chancel are set very low in the South wall – perhaps the floor level of the church has been raised at some time?

Although there’s now no rood screen there’s evidence that there used to be one as there is a hole in the chancel arch upright,...

... and also nearby is a blocked doorway which presumably would have led to the rood stairway

Both the pulpit and lectern are plain and sturdy which I liked as they seemed in keeping with this unpretentious little church.

The nice wooden reredos also looked sturdy and a very fine embroidered cloth hung in front of the Altar

There are some impressive wall plaques and memorials in the church

 ...and a brief history of the church hangs just through the South entrance door

Considering the size of this little church it has a larger churchyard than would be contains some nice C18 grave stones

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Beccles St Michael the Archangel

This is a lovely welcoming church situated in the town centre. It is evident that the town’s people love and enjoy their church as it is kept in immaculate condition.
Before entering the church I noted something of special interest on the outside.….This is one of the few churches which has an outside pulpit - I’m not sure if this story is correct but it’s claimed that the patients from a local leper hospital used to stand outside and the vicar would stand in this pulpit and preach to them.

There is no tower attached to the church – the ground at the W end of the church was thought too unstable to support the weight of a tower, so one was built away from the church at it’s SE end.

Entry into the church is through a wonderfully ornate South porch, which has many niches which were probably originally filled with statues

Although a new modern font is now used, the fine old C13 one still stands at the rear of the church, it retains it’s octagonal bowl of Purbeck marble which stands on a plinth from a later date

Near the entrance door is an old medieval chest which has three locks. This would have held all important documents pertaining to the church

High above the S entrance door is a most unusual squint window – these are normally tiny plain glass. Two rather grubby C17
 hatchments hang below

The large expanse of the nave is light and airy, helped somewhat by it’s clerestory windows

A very fine Royal Arms of Charles ll hang at the NW end of the nave   

The wonderful richly carved early C20 chancel screen was a gift from the Crowfoot family (their family tombs can be found outside the S side of the church)

The lectern and pulpit are Victorian and made in the Gothic style

The choir stalls have delightful carvings on the pew ends

 I like the stone carved memorial tomb now placed in the N wall of the sanctuary. It is attributed to  John Rede, a former Lord Mayor of Norwich who died in 1502... It's original frieze showed all of his eight sons and three daughters (the first son on the frieze had to be cut off when tomb moved to it's present position, so that the frieze would fit into this new space)
In the SE aisle of the chancel is a memorial chapel dedicated to the men who gave up their lives for this Country in the Great War of 1914-1918. It has beautiful stained glass windows

The church's huge East window commemorates the jubilee of queen Victoria in 1887

The father of Lord Horatio Nelson was once a curate here and he and his wife were married in this church in May 1749

One important thing I must mention is the huge fire which gutted most of the church in 1586. Evidence of this fire still exists with some of the nave pillars showing discolouration through the heat of this fire

There is so much more I could write about this fine church, so I strongly recommend a visit here – you will not be disappointed.  It stands as a witness to the people’s faith in the Lord.