John E. Vigar MA, FSA Scot., FRSA

A Norfolk Churchcrawl

Yesterday I spent a day with my old friend Simon Knott on an exploration of a circle of churches around Norwich. Here`s how we got on:


Trowse Newton - a village church immediately outside the inner ring road. A charming spot where we were given a warm welcome by the keyholder. The architecture is important - the east window being dateable to the 1280s but what struck us was the group of musicians around the pulpit. Almost life size they must have come from a continental church organ.

Earlham was locked with no keyholder notice. One for pre-arrangements another day.

Colney - a round towered church just inside the outer ring road. It contains one of the 30 or so chalice brasses for which Norwich is known and a fine East Anglian Type font which depicts the martyrdom of St Edmund.


Bawburgh is another round towered gem which is now open daily. Famous for its own saint, St Walstan, we were taken by the variety of monumental brasses and by the screen, loft and rood beam. We met the churchwarden who was very proud of her well cared for church.

Costessey was inaccessible, but only because they are in the process of installing a door lock - after which it will be open daily.

Felthorpe - this church was always locked but is now open daily by electronic lock. Well done to them. It also has a snazzy loo set behind the war memorial screen under the tower! An unusual tin plate memorial and lots of Ward and Hughes glass were worth seeing.

Frettenham is kept locked but the churchwarden gladly came out to let us in. What a surprise! The east window depicting the Harrowing of Hell is late 20c as are murals depicting the life of St Swithin, the patron saint. Lots of brasses here too, including a tiny inscription.


Crostwick obviously hadn`t been used since Christmas. The tree was still up and holly on the screen. It was rather a sad sight but an atmospheric church set in one of those churchyards grazed by rabbits that I love so much.

Little Plumstead has eluded both of us for years. No keyholder notice, so we`ll have to make arrangements in advance next time. It conatins a good number of Netherlandish stained glass panels.

Witton was locked but we found the keyholder at home. An unassuming church on the outside we didn`t expect much but it obvioously had an expensive makeover of the highest quality 100 years ago. We also discovered a brass of a vowess - as rare as hens teeth!

It was a fascinating day out in excellent weather with good company. I`m so lucky to live in a county with such a variety of church buildings.



A visit to Brightlingsea
Guestwick Church, Norfolk

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