Sunday, 13 May 2018

Westhall, St Andrew

  I had to go down a tiny winding lane to reach this utterly delightful church which is much larger  than it appears from the outside.  Apart from just a few houses the other side of the road the church is isolated among the trees. It has an imposing medieval North door complete with closing rings and is sheltered by a C16 porch. 

The first thing one notices on entering into the C14 nave is the fine Seven Sacrament font from c1450 which although having suffered mutilation still shows some of it’s paint and gesso work 
The scenes around the bowl represent Christ’s Baptism - Holy Orders – Baptism – Confirmation – Matrimony – Penance and Extreme Unction.
There remains what must have once been a vibrant mid C16 dado screen, with nearby rood steps set into the North wall which led to the rood loft 
A large wall painting of St Christopher is on the North wall near the South door, and other wall paintings can be seen on the South wall of the South aisle, including one of a consecration cross

The pulpit is from the Stuart period.  

The large airy chancel was restored in 1882 with it’s East window containing some C14 glass – this is flanked by two Decalogue panels.

Some of the choir stalls have delightful animal heads carved on their ends,

 There’s also a piscina and drop sill sedelia on the South wall of the chancel with two credence shelves close by 
The South aisle is divided from the nave of the church by an arcade which was originally built c1150 and houses the tomb of Nicholas Bohun d.1602 

The priests doorway has an ogee arch with headstops and three scratch dials can be seen on the buttress to the left of the door.

The C14 tower was built up against the lovely Norman West door – this means that the beauty of this door arch is hidden from sight unless one is inside the base of the bell tower 
…one wonders why the builders did this.

The churchyard is charming and contains many trees including an enormous yew tree which must be extremely old.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Yelverton - The church of St Mary the Virgin

This is a delightful warm welcoming church which is obviously well cared for and much loved. It’s interior is light and airy with a clerestory on both sides of the nave which was added onto the church in the late C15 –
 Those clerestory windows on the outside of the North side of the nave still show their Tudor brickwork surrounds  

On the day of my visit the church interior was awash with sweet smelling flowers

Restoration took place here in 1883 when the font was moved from it’s original position to the west end of the south aisle – it is possibly C14 but made in the Norman square bowl style
One the west wall of the nave wall is a carved oak memorial for the fallen in WW1, and the stained glass window nearby also commemorates the soldiers and sailors from the village who lost their lives in that same war.

The C14 porch contains the remains of a holy Water stoup
 The two spectacular porch windows are recent additions to the church being commissioned and installed in 2000, they represent fire and water  
  During the C19 restoration the chancel was enlarged but retained it’s trefoil headed piscina and sedilia window seat.

The 1883 choir stalls have medieval poppyheads inserted in their ends – one of the poppyheads shows a ‘green man’ carved into it’s end

                                     East window >>

Main early benefactors of the church were Thomas and Beatrice Hotte. The rood screen was one of their donations to the church in C14.

  Originally a rood (large crucifix) hung from the rood loft….


The stairs up to the rood loft are still in situ, when these were repaired in the C19 an old sanctus bell was discovered and now resides in a niche near the organ, at the same time an old door ring  was found and is now on the inside of the South door to the church

The charming upper rood screen is early C20 but the dado is medieval with painted panels of angels upon it

There are several old brasses on ledgerstones lying in the church. One of these has a small effigy about 6” high of a young girl, it’s for Margaret Aldriche who belonged to an important Norwich family she died in 1525 (“in her floryching youthe”) 

The church contains some large wall memorial plaques and there are two interesting ones on the exterior of the South nave wall which are edged in brickwork, these are dedicated to Leonard and William hood who died in 1705 and 1711 respectively 

Thomas Thetford was responsible for building the flint and brick stubby tower in 1673/4  He has an inscribed plaque inserted half way up the South wall of the tower 

There is a pleasant graveyard which contains a poignant lonely grave of a child who died over a hundred years ago...

This is a truly a delightful church to visit.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

The church of St Michael, Oulton Broad

This church is an outpost of Suffolk, standing adjacent to the marshes which stretch into Norfolk.
From the outside it is not the prettiest of churches. It is unusual with having it’s tower in the middle of the church between chancel and nave

St Michael’s is usually kept locked, due to local teenagers frequently racing their bicycles around the churchyard paths, and the fear is for damage to the inside of the church to take place if it was left open. We were very fortunate on the day we decided to visit as one of the groundsmen was busy at work, and seeing we were interested in the fabric of the church asked if we would like to take a look inside and produced a key for us.
A feeling of warmth and friendliness greeted us as we entered through the priest’s door into the chancel …not even the grotesque above the door could manage to deter us.

The church is larger inside than it appears from the outside.

Two replica brasses lie in front of the altar, The original brasses were either lost or stolen when St Michaels was restored in 1857. The larger of the two brasses from 1318 is for Adam Bacon and the other one which dates from 1445 is for John Fastolf and his wife.

 Fortunately someone had already taken brass rubbings of the originals and therefore copies were easy to duplicate. I was pleased to see two framed notices nearby which relates the history of these people.

In the chancel is a nice decorated piscina and dropped-sill sedilia.

The oak reredos added in 1951 has painted Decologue panels

 Above the chancel wall hang a quite rare Royal Arms of James ll 
On a table in the nave sits a small set of wooden bells fashioned from the old bell frame of 1540

The rood stair doors are in situ, also a door above the chancel arch which led from the rood loft into the tower
A West gallery was added in the church in 1836
The C15 font is in fine condition 

Unusually the belfry is situated in the middle of the church

The large nave windows are made up of plain glass apart from the small top central pane in each window which contains stained glass
The South entrance door has a plain Norman door arch containing just one single row of chevron moulding 

Outside on the East wall can be seen large carved initials CKF  - whether this is early graffiti or a stone mason’s mark, I don’t know

This church has one of the nicer graveyards, not only is it kept impeccably, but it looks out across a  picturesque view toward  Oulton Broad marshes.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

St Mary's church, Homersfield

(This church is also sometimes known as the church of St Mary, South Elmham)

Fortunately there’s a sign at the bottom of a narrow lane or you’d pass by this church, as it stands in a wooded area and hidden from sight behind houses.
 It is situated on the Suffolk/Norfolk border

Although it has quite an impressive exterior the inside of the church is less exciting

It is plain and simple with it’s walls empty of any  family memorial plaques, apart from one large  picture of the Nativity on the nave’s north wall which is badly in need of cleaning, and a small picture on the south wall which is a print of the Virgin Mary taken from a work by the C15 Italian artist Filippo Lippi – again this would also benefit from cleaning. I didn’t take a photograph of either of these as they were too dirty for the details to have shown up.

Almost everything in this church appears to have been renewed by the Victorians.

The C19 plain arcaded font  is a copy in style of some of the Norman square fonts

                   Font cover >>

I really liked the double piscina in the Sanctuary 

Two Decalogue panels hang on either side of the East window which contains plain green stained glass

There is a nice Norman slit window in the south wall of the nave. (My favourite part of the church) 

It was pleasing to see an old oil lamp on the nave wall

There is an old priests door in the chancel which is worth viewing.

The wooden lectern of an eagle with outspread wings is C20 

The extended churchyard is pleasant to walk round, and I noticed inside of the church there was a booklet which contains all the grave numbers, which would certainly be very useful for anyone searching for a particular grave

There’s nothing pretentious about this simple church, it is an everyday church ideal for country worship.