Thursday, 4 May 2017

Haddiscoe, St Mary's church

When I last visited this church some years ago it was on a wet miserable day, and the interior of the church seemed to exude the same dismal aura. This second visit on a bright warm summer’s day proved that first impressions aren’t always correct, as this church is utterly charming! It stands on a grassy knoll overlooking the surrounding countryside.
The chequerboard top to the tower is C15 and tops what is essentially a Saxon tower which has an internal diameter of just eight feet

The C15 south porch protects a very fine Norman doorway which has a contemporary stone carved plaque above it depicting a figure of a seated priest with a dove over his head

High above the tower belfry arch remains a Saxon doorway into the tower which looks down into the nave

A North aisle was added adjacent to the nave in the C13

The church has undergone some restoration over the years, although a C13 double piscina in the SE wall of the chancel remains in situ

A window on both sides of the chancel are blocked up

On the nave wall fragments of medieval paintings are still visible, The clearest one is over the arcade into the north aisle and is of St Christopher holding the Christ child,  This particular subject is frequently seen in medieval wall paintings situated opposite the church entrance,...He is the patron saint of travellers and it was thought people passing through would have a safe day after seeing his image

The C15 font is in the traditional East Anglia style but now has a modern cover.

There are some interesting ledgerstones
 in the church. I was fascinated by one let into the nave aisle. It is in Dutch, but the translation reads “In memory of Bele daughter of John, wife of Peter the Dykegraff, who died 2nd December 1525” (It was during this time that many men from the Netherlands settled in Britain to help with our land reclamation)
An influential family by the name of Grimmer resided in Haddiscoe during the mid C19  and not only is there a large headstone outside near the porch entrance for them, but there’s also an ornate memorial plaque mounted on the North wall of the North aisle for George Grimmer Esq, his wife Lucy, and their children Willian, George and Laura Augusta 

I was hoping to find a plaque attached to the outside of the churchyard’s South wall for William Slater – he was a coachman in the C18 who met an untimely death when his coach crashed on the Norwich Turnpike which was directly below the mound where the church and churchyard stand…The plaque was placed on the wall high above the exact spot where the crash happened.. Unfortunately with the churchyard being on high ground the surrounding wall has collapsed over the centuries into the wide expanse of verdant overgrowth of trees and bushes which fall to the track below, making discovery of Mr Slater’s epitaph impossible to find. No doubt three hundred years ago no-one imagined how much the countryside would change during the ensuing years.

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