Saturday, 29 July 2017

St Edmund's church, Fritton

This is a charming early medieval reed thatched church, which until boundary changes in 1974 resided in Suffolk, but now Norfolk boasts it belongs to them.

…It’s in a delightful setting down a lane near Fritton Lake on the east Suffolk/Norfolk border.

I've visited this church on numerous occasions but this was the first time I'd been without getting wet, thankfully on this particular day we had glorious sunshine. 
As with many East Anglian churches St Edmunds has a round tower which is of  Saxon origin with the Norman Apse built in the C11 and the Chancel and Nave added in the C13 …The width of the church Nave being extended by approx. 11 feet Southwards in the C14, this gives the inside of the church a lop-sided look, as the chancel is now on the North side of the nave instead of in the middle of the church as originally intended.

 I am not always enamoured by some restoration work done in medieval churches, but this is an exception, as the restoration work here was so sympathetically done, and gives us an insight to how the church interior would have looked centuries ago with all it’s vibrant wall painting.    One has to step down from the nave into the tiny chancel, which is wonderfully restored and seemed a magical place to enter. The East window of this Apsidal chancel is really three separate small Norman slit windows…the depth of these window recesses demonstrates how thick the walls of the original church was. The red scroll wall painting around the entire East window probably dates from C12… Two other stained glass windows are on either side of the chancel, where the workmen have left us a view on the ceiling above of some of the restoration work which has been undertaken.

A small set of medieval choir stalls fit neatly into the chancel near the C13 piscina.

The original rood screen - now restored dates from the middle C14 and is a wonderful doorway into this medieval chancel.

In the Nave a C17 three decker pulpit complete with clerk’s desk and reading desk stand unusually alongside each other. This stands where I think the original Altar must have stood before the nave was widened, as there is a piscina close by.

Two large C14 wall paintings, one of St Christopher and the other of St John the Baptist were uncovered during the restoration work.

The Norman style font is probably from the C19

The stone cross which stands on the Eastern gable of the church is a C12 "Rosa Crux"

On the outside of the South wall of the apsidal chancel can be seen a small wooden hatch to a small room under the eaves, it is known as the 'smugglers loft', where it is believed smugglers used to store their contraband.
This is a church which has survived through the turmoil of the last one thousand years, and hopefully will remain for a very long time in the future.  It is a truly delightful church to visit.

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