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.

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