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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.

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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

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Rumburgh...St Michael and St Felix church

One has to cross private land to reach the West entrance gate to this church. 
  From this direction it looks uninspiring with it’s bulky C13 severely truncated tower, but walking through the graveyard toward the church it becomes apparent that this West tower is very old – it is all that remains of a Benedictine Priory which was founded just before the Norman Conquest until it’s suppression in 1528
The tower has a weatherboard belfry which is topped by a high slated roof.

The C15 porch found along the South side of the church protects a simple early C13 inner doorway

Entering into the nave the interior is light and airy, but at the same time appears to be an austere building in which to worship, although I found it’s brick floor very pleasing.

Just through the door on the S wall is a recess for a Holy Water stoup 

The pews although plain have nice poppy head ends 

The pulpit is Jacobean and rather stern looking, it was restored during the late C19

Nearby in the N wall of the nave is a doorway to the rood stairs 

The octagonal C14 font stands on a modern base and has a Stuart cover

A C19 bier rests just through the chancel arch 

There is a fine old chest in the church

 Along the South wall of the chancel is a round headed arched doorway which is blocked - this was most probably done in the C15 when buttresses were built on the outside to strengthen the church wall. The door opposite was most probably used as the Monks entrance
The sanctuary is set at a slightly higher level than the rest of the chancel and is paved with nice floor tiles   The delightfully age- worn chancel screen has fine tracery under it’s arches 

The church windows are mainly clear glass with a few having a small amount of stained glass in their upper tracery

There is a neat little organ which once stood in the church at Shipmeadow, but was transferred here when Shipmeadow was made into a private home in the 1980s 

There are some interesting ledgerstones in the nave aisle floor and other memorials in the chancel 

A splendid old bench resides in the entrance porch

This is a church with a long and interesting   history and has a large churchyard to investigate

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Christ Church, Lowestoft

This parish adjacent to the North Sea has suffered more than most.   The church was built in 1868 to serve the fishing community between the harbour and lighthouse, and for fifty years it quietly and dutifully served the people of it’s parish.
  Zeppelin raids  between 1914-1918 devastated the homes of this community. The few cottages which had been left habitable were finally demolished in the 1930s. These were replaced by council houses, but even these couldn’t survive the devastation that came with the extensive German bombing in the 1939-1945 war.  It changed this parish for ever….but the worst destruction came at the hands of the mighty North Sea which had provided the livelihood for this fishing community. The well documented East Coast floods of 1953 began the decline of the fishing industry in the town. The whole of this beach parish including the church was left deep in sea water - Christ church which had withstood all traumas through the years was so flooded that boats were used inside the church to ferry out belongings. Nowadays this parish is mostly made up of warehouses and Industrial buildings, plus the tallest wind turbine in the UK, this is close to Ness Point the most Easterly spot in Britain.

 On the outside of the fine West door of the church are details and height of this flood 

The small lead covered spire stands proud on top of the modest tower. 

I admit to feeling a little unsettled on visiting here as I knew the church doesn’t stand E-W as other churches but N-S.. therefore it’s East window is facing North. I suspect this was done because the small plot of ground the church was allotted would only accommodate the church if built in this particular direction.

Entrance into the church is via the North porch 

The nave is wide and spacious with arcades to divide the central nave from the North and South aisles.

Most of the church furnishings are C20 although I believe the wooden lectern to be from the C19 

The fine wood carving in this church reminds us that this craft is still alive and as good as it was in yesteryear. The beautiful octagonal font from 1952 and the choir stalls emphasises this 

The chancel arch has a striking line of scripture around it – this is the first thing that greets the eye on entering the church.

An early C20 East window depicting the Ascension stands above a reredos which is made up of stone panels painted with the Decologue and the Creed.

There are many wall plaques around the church walls  - understandably in this church a lot of them are for families who had a strong connection with the sea.

Thankfully Christ Church has shown that it can survive all adversity and today is thriving once again. It welcomes people of all ages and whatever their faith through it’s door.