Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Henstead with Hulver - St Mary's church

This church which now stands alone alongside a narrow busy country road blends in quietly with it’s surroundings. Ever since this road was built some years ago the graveyard is on both sides of the road, so I assume road was built through the churchyard!       I had to park my car a fair distance away from the church, as it has no parking facilities itself,  thankfully it wasn’t raining on the day I visited.  I think parishioners of this church must be tempted to stay at home in inclement weather conditions, unless they don’t mind sitting in their wet clothes for the duration of a service.
A church has stood on this site for nine hundred and fifty years. It is thought it’s  North wall was built  c1066 - the same time as William conquered England…the lower part of this North wall is built in uncut flint in a herringbone style, which suggests early Norman, and it’s believed these stones were brought over from Caen in France (this is unverified)
 The grand South Norman doorway from the 1100s contains very fine carving, this must be one of the best Norman doorways I’ve seen....

 It is protected by a C15  porch.
There is a Holy Water stoop from c1470 in the porch...this was repaired in 2010 
The north doorway is also from the same period

 The tower was built c1470 and has a castellated top with gargoyles

In 1641 a fire from a nearby farmhouse spread to the church and is thought to have burnt the carved benches and much of the interior woodwork, plus badly damaging the chancel. The chancel was subsequently rebuilt but on a smaller scale than the original.
The windows in the church are in the decorated style of  mid C14
This is East window is the only stained glass window left in the church

In the SW corner of the nave is a banner-stave locker for holding the processional cross etc.

There are some nice memorials in the church, including this impressive wall tablet for the Mitchell family and a memorial cross for G.F.Farmiloe, killed in action 1917

The church was restored in the mid C19 and again in 1906. Originally there had been a three-decker pulpit here, but this was removed along with the box pews during the 1906 restoration…they were replaced by the oak pulpit and pews which are very plain,- these seem to suit this simple country church.

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There is no division between the nave and the chancel, but niches in the walls point to a screen having been here in earlier times.

There are some charmimg communion rails in the chancel which were added in the 1906 restoration.

After king Charles ll came to the throne in 1660 the orthodox Church of England style of religion returned to this church…it had previously followed Puritan worship while under Oliver Cromwell.
The graveyard extends to the other side of the busy road. this is where the war memorial stands

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