Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Church of St Margaret, Hales

Do you ever find that there’s a place that keeps drawing you back to it?...

I’m  like that with the unpretentious little medieval church of St Margaret, Hales in Norfolk. I know I have written about it previously but it is one of my favourite churches.

…I have visited many more prettier and exuberant churches, but none of them has the simplistic appeal as this one....After being abandoned the church was taken under the protection of the Church Conservation Trust in 1974 and it’s remaining furnishings are very sparse with nothing of materialistic value, but this empty little church has an unquestionable hold over my emotions

apsidal chancel


                                        medieval bench pew

On entering the church via the splendid North Norman door I always feel an overwhelming feeling of peace and serenity.
 The first thing which meets the eye is the well preserved octagonal
C15 font, and beyond that on the South wall is the remains of a C14 wall painting of St Christopher...along this same wall is a splendid wall painting thought to be that of St James the Great holding a scroll and staff.


St Christopher


St James

Many other traces of wall paintings can been seen throughout the church

Only the dado part of the rood screen remains with it’s painted panels, sadly this is now faded and deteriorating, but still very charming.

The stairs up to the West gallery still remain so one can get an overview of the interior of the church.

The round Western tower (mainly seen in East Anglia) was built around the same time as the main body of the church – some people believe it was just before and others that it was just after, but one thing is certain, it is decidedly medieval

.The South Norman doorway, although not so imposing as the North Doorway is nevertheless splendid.....
...and has a mass dial (sometimes called scratch dials) -  these can usually be seen near doorways on medieval churches, but sadly many are now worn away with time. The overwhelming reasoning thought to be behind these dials is their  use to relay to the people when the next service was due.

 This church still has it’s apsidal chancel which was common in the C12, having escaped the pulling down and rebuilding of a chancel with straight east walls which were later to become more popular. I think the main reason I love this little church is because it’s one of the few remaining examples of a Norman church which gives us a view of  what it was like in it’s original form….It’s a real connection with the past eight hundred years

I’ve no doubt over the years I’ll be returning time and time again to this evocative church which I privately call my sanctuary.

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