churchesofnorfolk The History of Churches in Norfolk.

Norfolk, other wise known as East Anglia, The name "Norfolk" derives from terms which meant "the northern people". It is first mentioned in Anglo-Saxon wills dating from 1043–5 and later as Norðfolc in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (the entry for 1075) and as Nordfolc in the Domesday Book, has one of the largest amounts of churches per acre than any other English county, this doesn't mean that Norfolk is by any means now more religious than other counties, but the spreading of the word of God, certainly got this far.
A.D. 650 seems to be about the date at which stone churches were built, it was a few years after the Angles and Saxons arrived, (449-547 A.D.) they were especially ignorant in all matters of art. We are especially indebted to the Venerable Bede (A.D.731) for most of the information of this time. ignorant, maybe, but the round tower churches, beauty in today's modern eyes. Churches of all dedications grew up. The Monastry of Peterborough was founded in A.D. 656, and in A.D. 681 benedict Biscop flourished as a church builder. In A.D. 871-901. King Alfred erected, or rebuilt, many of the ruined cities or monastries, but most of these appear to have been built of wood, and covered in thatch.

A.D. 450-550. saw the destruction of British churches by heathen invaders

The county of Norfolk contains around 659 churches built before the 1700th century, it has some that number 245 that are now ruined. it has 125 round towers churches.

Several small fraternities came from religious foundations: Cluniacs at Thetford, Carmelites in Norwich, Gilbertines at Shouldham, Each is inadequate but together they build up a picture of slowly increasing diversity that is more apparent in the general pattern of their skeletal architecture than in any specifically metrical features. Saxon influenced churches, Norman influenced churches, some with Jacobean fittings, some with fitting that date to Stuart times, some more modern that have been built in the last two decades. Many that are now being restored, and some that need money spending on then. Each church seems to surprise me and sometimes a companion along the way.
Some have been stumbled on by chance, some by word of mouth and some through heavy research on the Churches of Norfolk, either by trawling sites, books and by reading the pamphlets that I have been lucky enough to have purchased from the open churches.
One thing is for sure, a locked church, is soon a closed down church, it cannot earn money closed.
By closed down, I mean redundant, and ready to fall into dis-repair.
Many church buildings are closed, not because a key holder can't open up the church, but as I am always being told, people steal lead!
Lead that is surely on the outside and there to steal if the church is open or closed!
And never usually during the day.

It is said too that the churches have attracted bats!
Bats will get in the smallest of cracks, they dislike sound, and certain smells.
Surely a couple of ideas can be made to change these habits, bat boxes places in church grounds, or even on neighbouring land?
I have noticed too a vast amount of churches now being used as village halls.
What I mean is, the pews being ripped out and replaced by chairs.
The Pews hundreds of years old are sold off dirt cheap and replaced by seats that will survive, 20-30 years maximum.
This nearly as bad as the years we call the Reformation!
Damage was done then, rood screens defaced, carving cut up, walls painted over, some that is now being restored, rood screens are being put back, pictures reworked and re-touched by conservationists.

Styles and dates:
Saxon.up to A.D. 1066.
Scarcely anything exists that can be proven to be earlier than A.D. 950
Saxo-Norman, built by Saxon labour under Norman direction after the Conquest. 1066-1090.
The Norman period up to 1185. Transition from Norman to Early English Gothic, the first pointed style, 1185-1200.
Early English Period, 1200-1280.
Decorated Period, 1300-1385.
Transitional 1385-1400.
Perpendicular Period, 1400-1500.
Tudor, late Perpendicular Period 1500-1540

Some outside stone Saints that were used over south porch entrance doors and destroyed by the Reformation are being replaced, stainless glass windows updated and restored, roof timbers replaced or retreated for worm, and pews replaced by chairs.

On visiting these many churches under the guise of The Old Boi from Norfolk. I have learned quite a lot. Its only been a matter of months, and I find myself now looking for the very same features in a church that have been there in some cases for hundreds of years, I have taken on a liking of Stained Glass, Wood Carving, and the paintings that decorate the place. I am in awe of these Master craftsmen and women that have produced such magnificent work. I try to reproduce, but though people say my work is fantastic and real life looking, these people were on another level.

Churches of Norfolk extended.

In Norfolk there were said to be around 1000 medieval churches and 659 still remain, this is the greatest concentration in the world, but at the peak of the most radical phase of Tudor image reform, Edward VI's government made it legally obligatory to deface all church images, this why som many rood screens have their faces scratched out, carvings are mutilated and other parts of the church either burnt, painted over, melted down or destroyed.

Not only are these beautiful internationally important buildings, but they contain hundreds of medieval works of art and craftsmanship.

The simple and easily built round towers of early times gave way to the rich and spacious buildings in the prosperous Middle Ages, many noted for their beautiful rood screens, decorated roofs and bench carvings.

The decline in the population of Norfolk during the great plague, left many churches isolated from their villages, but their towers still dominate the Norfolk landscape. Shouldham being such a church; each of these wonderful buildings offers a great place to escape our busy lives and experience peace and tranquillity.

Monk S Gregory of the 6th century summoned his protégé Augustine from Coelian Hill to lead an expedition to England, many had previously tried, but on the occasion in 597, Augustine a monk set forth. He arrived on the coastline of Kent, despite him being martyred as before, a Kent King with a good heart made Augustine welcome. The Kentish King was married to Queen Bertha, a woman of Frankish decent, a Christian. It seems the old Teotonic heathenism of the Angles had become out of date. On Christmas day 597 Augustine baptised ten thousand converts in and around Canterbury. The news of these conversions got back to Gregory and he rejoiced.

Christianity in Great Britain had arrived.

Burnham Thorpe is the birthplace of Horatio Nelson. His father, Edmund Nelson, moved to Burnham Thorpe in 1755, after his marriage. Horatio, the 6th of their 11 children was born on 29th September 1758 in a house called the Shooting Box! Horatio went away to study and after his early years in the Navy, he returned for 5 years to Burnham Thorpe with his new wife. Nelson was given his first role as Captain after this and the rest is history. The church where his father was Rector, is well worth a visit as it is full of Nelson family memorabilia, including a cross and lectern made from wood from HMS Victory.

The large village church of St Nicholas has a small turret at the corner of the chancel where a light would burn as a beacon to guide ships safely into Blakeney Harbour. The church tower (100ft) is one of the highest in Norfolk and is a landmark for miles around. Inside, the church has a lovely early English chancel, built in 1220. You will also find some splendid wood carving and fine stained glass windows.

In a commanding position, overlooking the sea is the large village church of St Mary's in Happisburgh. It has a very tall tower (110 feet). Inside, the church is very spacious and contains some medieval features, such as the backlight to the rood at the east end of the nave.

The church also has a splendid 15th century octagonal font and a stained glass window showing an English knight. Outside, the church graveyard is littered with memorials to sailors that lost their life in the hazardous waters near Happisburgh, including the 119 sailors of HMS Invincible, who in were on their way to join Nelson in Copenhagen in 1801.

The parish church of St. Margaret of Antioch, dating back to the 13th century, dominating this end of the village, it seems at times almost too cathedral like for the small village. The church is vast and contains many interesting features including a seven sacrament font, bench ends depicting people and mythical creatures, brasses and old stained glass.

The church of St Nicholas at Salthouse stands between the village and high ridge and is high enough to avoid any flood water. The best view of the church is from Salthouse Heath. Inside, the nave and chancel were rebuilt in the 15th century at a time of great prosperity. The church contains a fine font with lions and a painted rood screen. Booton Church of St Michael and All Angels is a highly individual church. It was created on the shell of a medieval building in the 19th century by the rector Revd Whitwell Elwin over a period of 50 years. Its a gothic fantasy, with palace-like towers on the outside, and hosts of oak angels and stained glass on the inside. No tour of Norfolk's churches is complete without a visit to Booton!

My work,

The Queen.
 < title >churches of Norfolk | church | Norfolk UK < /title >
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