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West Somerton Saint Mary Church NR29 4DR


West Somerton Saint Mary Church, West tower, north porch, nave and chancel. The nave and porch of this church are thatched. The Norman tower is round with a 14th century octagonal top stage. Modern roofs and benches, perfectly plain octagonal font. old Commandment board, and many faint mural wall paintings of the 14th century which used to show on the north wall. Reading from west the Entry into Jerusalem, The Scouring and the Resurrection, and on the south wall a Last Judgement between the two windows and a Saint Christopher, the last being the only one easily recognisable. Nice early 15th century screen with buttresses terminating in crocketted pinnacles, and a 15th century pulpit, with extraordinary concave panels having delicate tracery and angle buttresses finished with crocketted pinnacles. 1 bell, the base of the tower is Norman, but 13th century above. The chancel is Perpendicular, but the nave is late 13th century with some later windows inserted. The roof is thatched. There are many fine mural paintings that have been discovered and, as far as possible preserved from subsequent damage. There are some tablets in the chancel to the Rising family. Somerton or Somertuna, meaning summer enclosure (near Winterton). Old English sumor (summer) + tun (enclosure, settlement, farm).

The Giant of Somerton, Robert Hales known as the "Norfolk Giant", was born at West Somerton in 1820 the son of a local farmer. Both his parents were unusually tall and Robert grew to a height of 7 feet 8 inches and weighed over 32 stones. Accompanied by his sister Mary who was also 7 feet tall, he appeared at fairs and shows throughout the country, and in 1848 visited the United States of America. On returning home to England, he became licensee of the Craven Head Tavern in London where his great height attracted considerable custom. He was presented to Queen Victoria, and became well known for his genial manner and generosity. Robert Hales died at Great Yarmouth in 1863, and lies buried in the ancient churchyard at Somerton where his tomb can be seen.

West Somerton Saint Mary Church NR29 4DR