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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

St Mary's church, Ditchingham

Finally I’ve been able to make my long awaited return visit to this wonderful country church, which stands in a picturesque situation  on the outskirts of a Norfolk village.

 Grave marker foot stones line the path in front of the South porch which was restored in 1840. It has a modern statue of St Mary in a niche over it’s entrance, and a sundial is fixed above that…Inside the porch wooden corbel heads adorn the roof supports

Walking round by the church tower (rebuilt in C15) I came to the very fine West doorway which is flanked  by large niches which contain original, although extensively repaired statues …the tower  base freeze has shields alternating with hearts surrounded by a crown of thorns.

Entering the nave via the C15 South door I was again overwhelmed by the impressive bronze statue facing me, it's of a recumbent soldier in front of the 1914-1918 war memorial





The North aisle was added on to the church in 1873


The interior of the church which is wide and lofty was much restored in the mid C19 when a new stone pulpit and oak lectern were added, and the old box pews were replaced by open benches


The charming rood screen was greatly restored in 1926 (these screens were originally used to separate the monks in the chancel from the public who sat in the nave)
                                                                                                                                                                              The C15 font has carved roses and shields around it's bowl and there is still traces of original paintwork on it's base.                                                                     The Altar table is C17




The chancel ceiling is a sheer delight, it was painted by Mrs A Scudamore wife of the Rev William Scudamore who was the incumbent here 1839-1881...She also painted the reredos  - a very talented lady.



Under the chancel floor lie the ashes of Sir Henry Rider Haggard, along with the ashes of other family members  - he was author of (King Solomon’s Mines, She, and many more) He was churchwarden and benefactor of this church, all his family worshipped here.There's also a family plot for the Rider Haggard family near the gate on the SE side of the churchyard


There are two Brasses in the church for the Bozard family - one for Philip Bozard d. 1490, his wife Margery, and their four sons and five daughters ... the other is for Roger Bozard d. 1505 and his son, they were son and grandson of Philip Bozard

The East window was given in memory of Lieu.Col. George Wilson of the Indian army





Back out in the large churchyard there are some interesting tombstones, I suppose the finest must be the one NW of the tower

....Sadly the writing on it has eroded away so I can’t be certain who it belongs to, but on further research it seems  likely that it is for the Rev. W. Scudamore…not only was he vicar here for forty two years in C19 but he was a benefactor who helped restore this church, and was held in high esteem for all the good works he performed during his ministry.


No churchyard would be complete without it’s little bit of scandal...SW of the tower is the grave of Mary Randalsome aged thirty nine who was murdered in 1840 by her husband ….He paid the price for this brutal action!

I love this special place dedicated to God, it bears witness to the faith of all who worship here.




Sunday, 19 July 2015

Norton Subcourse, St Mary's


This is another church with a splendid  round tower, it's tapered shape shows it's early connection to The College of Secular Priests. It was built in 1380 of flint - it now has a small repair at the top in red brick.


Although there is a suggestion that the tower may even pre-date the Norman Conquest, the 23ft wide nave and chancel date from the C14
The church was originally thatched but was replaced by slates in C19
It has a plain plastered ceiling inside.

In the chancel there's an attractive East window and a C14 piscina and graduated sedilia in the sanctuary

The only thing which now separates the chancel from the nave is a C18 tie -beam which is where the rood used to be.

.....The C13 font is made from Purbeck stone which is still in fairly good condition

Some of the windows contain original  stained glass,and nearly all of them are finished off with finely carved human and animal headstops.




On the west wall hangs the Royal Arms of George lV





There's a fine pulpit and pews gifted to the church by Rev. A.J.T. Thackery who was vicar here between 1855-1923





The North door to the nave is blocked up



I found an extremely poignant tombstone in the large churchyard for James Horth 1745-1825, his wife Mary 1750-1825 and ELEVEN of their twelve children who died in infancy.
At the bottom of the stone there's also a mention of their only surviving child who lived into adulthood-James 1773-1846.
<<Inscription >>
James Horth 1745-1825
wife Mary Horth 1752-1825
and their 11 children who died in infancy
Son James 1773-1846

How parents can ever come to terms with losing so many of their children is beyond my comprehension!
It made me wonder if some - or maybe  most of the children had perhaps succumbed to one of the awful diseases that were rife at the end of C18 and early part of C19....All so very sad, and the memory of seeing that tomb that will stay with me forever.
Family Historians are used to finding deaths of three or maybe four infant deaths in a family from those years, but I've personally never come across eleven in one family before.

I need to pay a return visit here, as there is so much more to photograph inside the church which I was unable to do on my last visit.







Sunday, 12 July 2015

Gisleham, Holy Trinity church

This is a delightful church to visit, it is situated on the corner of a narrow road but stands well back from the road itself.
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 headstops,

There is evidence of a weathered scratch dial on the buttress near the porch


A holy water stoop 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 - possibly of two Saints

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.
    A selection of graffiti >





There is a pleasant C19 stained glass window above the altar in the Sanctuary


The spacious well tended churchyard is a quiet place to sit and reflect.

 It contains some interesting headstones




.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Carleton St Peter...St Peter's church

The day I visited this church I was taken back in time. St Peter's stands isolated in the middle of a field, with no access road.....To visit the church one has to park in the narrow road and walk across a wide grass path between growing crops to reach it. ~ As there's now only a handful of families living in the parish, the church remains open by holding only the occasional service...at these times, or if a rare burial etc. takes place, the farmer opens a five barred gate to allow cars to drive across the field to park outside of the church wall.

Entrance is by the medieval South porch door which retains it's original ironwork. 
The outer porch doorway has a coat of arms on either side of the door - one is the cross of St George and the other is the crossed keys for St Peter

The interior of the church contains an air of remoteness, with it's simplicity


This church was restored in the C19 and during that time a recess was found in the North wall of the chancel. It is believed it originally held the tomb of the church founder...on the rear wall of the recess is a faded inscription from the 1557 Geneva version of the new testament.

I liked the C14 oak rood screen which divided the chancel from the nave...it was nicely restored in the C19





The C19 organ case is unusual, it has angels playing musical instruments painted on it's face 

..and the relatively modern square font stands in front of it.






On the North wall of the chancel is a poignant slate plaque for the five children of Rev. Sallett who was the former rector of this church 1667-1699 










A badly deteriorated medieval painting adorns a nave wall 
                     

 It was lovely to find an early English lancet window...the Gothic era had arrived!



As one would expect from such a tiny parish, there are not many graves in the churchyard, and those that are there appear to be for 18th and 19th  century members of just a few families
To commemorate the new millennium a yew tree was planted in the churchyard on January 1st 2000

I have to say there's nothing outstandingly special about this flint and rubble built church, but it's always open to welcome visitors into it's fold.