Thursday, 7 August 2014

All Saints and St Margaret church. Pakefield

Two into one will go...

This thatched roof church started out in early medieval times as two separate churches, joined by one central nave wall - the same as we see today’s semi-detached houses.
The story goes, that two wealthy landowners from neighbouring parishes wanted to have their own church built over a large sarcen stone, which was a relic from the Ice Age…these stones had been used as pagan altars. Compromise was reached when they decided to build two churches with one dividing wall between - this wall is supposedly built over the pagan stone,
.Over the centuries the arches in this wall have been opened up and closed many times, depending on whether there was just one priest overseeing both churches, or a priest for each church. Finally in 1748 the two churches permanently became one when the dividing wall arches were opened up for the last time. The church has since been known as All Saints & St Margaret’s
It must have been an awkward situation to have two adjoining churches having services taking place at the same time

It seemed so unusual to enter a small church which has two naves, two chancels and two altars, but sharing the same tower, but it all comes together beautifully.
St Margaret’s is on the left side of the church as you face the East, and All Saints on the right. I know some people  think St Margaret’s might be a Lady chapel to All Saints, but this is incorrect, as St Margaret’s is a church in it’s own right, but All Saints is the side of these two united churches which is used most frequently.

 All Saints had a beautiful C19 East window until as recently as December 2013..when very high winds and storms which played havoc with the coastline damaged this window, causing the window to be bordered up while waiting for a new one to be  made to replace it.

The C14 font stands at the West end of the church, where the two churches meet.

One of the hazards for  this church standing on a cliff edge - it takes the full force of the North  Easterly gales blowing in off the sea 

On the walls of  St Margaret’s side of the church is a brass dating from 1417 for John and Agnes Bowf with their two sons and nine daughters. This brass has been moved to it’s present position to prevent further damage to it.
Lying in front of St Margaret’s altar is the gravestone of Philip Richardson dated 1748 – he was the last priest in charge of both churches before they were united.

In 1949 the C14 East window on St Margaret’s side of the church was filled in to prevent damage caused by it’s falling tracery, it was thought to be unsafe after two incendiary bombs fell and badly damaged the church during WW2.

The present organ built in 1952  replaced the earlier war damaged one, and it stands in front of this built in window, and behind St Margaret’s altar.

Near the North door is a square hole which goes through the full thickness of the church wall, each end is covered in glass. This hole held a horizontal beam which supported scaffolding when the wall of the church was being built.

All Saints was extended in the C15 and a crypt now lies beneath the sanctuary which had to have it's floor raised to accommodate the room below.
<< showing air vents to the crypt

The modern altar of All Saints seems rather austere

A wooden rood screen stretches from one side of St Margaret’s to the far side of All Saints…As you can see from the picture below St Margaret’s side of the church took the full force of the falling incendiary bombs        
                      St Margaret's screen      All Saints screen

In the West wall, near the tower and to the left of the belfry door are stone steps which lead to a room, probably used for contemplation, and around the back of the church is an ancient stone bench seat. In medieval times this bench was for the use of the aged and infirm, the rest of the congregation had to stand or kneel during services
….Hence the old adage “the weakest shall go to the wall”

The Royal Arms of Charles 11 (1681) hangs on the West wall, but apparently it’s colours aren’t correct! (perhaps through dodgy pigment or maybe just an ill informed  artist)

This is a building which has come through much adversity, and it stands as a silent witness to the people who have faith in the church.
It’s a really pleasant church to visit, it’s so light and airy and has a warm welcoming atmosphere….even the sheep who graze in it's churchyard seem content with the world
Thankfully now with better sea defences this church should no longer worry - at least not for a long time - of the encroaching sea taking it prisoner, as it has with so many churches along this stretch of coastline.


  1. What a delightful church and the photos are stunning.

  2. Thank you so much. yes it's a most unusual church.