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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Heckingham...the Church of St Gregory

This early medieval thatched roof church is contemporary with it’s more well known neighbour St Margaret’s in Hales.
This plain and a simple church is now redundant and under the care of the Church Conservation Trust…..It is one of the best examples of a Norman country church in East Anglia. .Set down a narrow secluded stony lane, it could very easily be passed by without anyone noticing it. It stands aloof and proud on a small hillock, above it’s makeshift car parking area.
The tower which began as round was later heightened into an octagonal style.
 On the South side of the church it boasts a fine Norman doorway, It’s carving is breath-taking!..It has very fine elaborate patterned carvings and the four shafts on either side have decorated capitals…It almost overpowers the inside of the small C15 porch.

The blocked up Norman door on the North side of the church is extremely plain by comparison.

The nave with it’s steep arch braced roof exudes a feeling of tranquillity,  and this church has one of the few remaining early medieval apsidal chancels. The shape of these chancels went out of fashion quite quickly when the straight sided walled chancels came into favour.


The sturdy square Norman font is supported on a central stem and four corner shafts.

We can still see the recess in the SE orner of the nave where stairs to the rood screen used to be.

A stained glass window adorns the central East window, and there are some lovely lancet windows...these all looked delightful with the sun streaming through into the church.

I found two interesting ledger stones, to  Mary Crow d.1666 and Mary Crowe d 1659 both daughters of John and Elizabeth Crowe…it was quite usual for parents in those days to name a subsequent child after one that had previously died. (notice the letter *e* has been missed from the surname on one of the stones).
 Stones to other C17 members of the Crowe family can also be found inside the church


I was surprised not to find any early wall paintings, I was expecting to see inner walls similar to the ones in the neighbouring church of St Margaret in Hales.





On the day I visited this church it was disappointing to find the graveyard so massively overgrown, some of the vegetation was shoulder high in places and too difficult to walk round. I do hope someone tends to it soon.

 The church itself is charming with much of interest to encourage me to make a return visit in the future...I hope by then I find the graveyard somewhat tidier.



2 comments:

  1. What a fantastic church to visit but it is a pity that the graveyard is so overgrown. I know they say it is to allow nature to be left in peace but actually I think it's because they can't find anyone who will regularly cut the grass. I would be very disappointed if my ancestors were buried there.

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  2. Yes most country churches now have designated wildlife areas and it seems their churchyards only get cut twice a year, probably rely on volunteers to do them. Sadly I don't think this particular churchyard had had it's grass cut for a very long time.

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