Medieval Churches in Norfolk

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Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright September 2010, Evelyn Simak; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
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Medieval Churches in Norfolk :: 1

TG1743 : The church of All Saints by Evelyn Simak TG1617 : St Margaret's church - tower arch and screen by Evelyn Simak TG4010 : St Edmund's church by Evelyn Simak TG1319 : St Margaret's church - east window detail by Evelyn Simak TG3121 : St Swithin's church by Evelyn Simak

There once were over 1,000 medieval churches in Norfolk. Of these 659 still remain. Norfolk has more medieval churches than there are in the whole rest of Great Britain and the greatest concentration in the world. Not only are these churches internationally important buildings but they contain hundreds of medieval works of art and craftsmanship and many are noted for their beautiful rood screens, decorated roofs, stained glass windows and bench carvings. 63 churches are believed to once have stood in Norwich alone. Of these there are 32 still in existence but only eight are presently used as parish churches. 18 are in the care of the Norwich Historic Churches Trust, three are looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust and one is privately owned.

The decline in the population of Norfolk left a number of churches isolated from their villages, but their towers still dominate the Norfolk landscape. 130 of the 185 surviving examples of round tower churches in the country can also be found in Norfolk, predominantly built of knapped flint, in areas lacking normal building stone.

Churches are often located on pre-Christian sites of worship and they are almost always oriented so that the main altar faces Jerusalem, i.e. is situated on the east end, with the layout of graves in adjoining churchyards following suit.

The medieval church dominated everybody's life: peasant farmers worked for free on church land and paid 10 percent of their earnings, either in money or in goods produced, to the church in return. The parishioners were responsible for the upkeep of the nave, which was their domain, whereas the chancel belonged to and was the responsibility of the priest. This explains why a number of churches have a chancel built of carefully squared stone and a nave constructed with locally available and cheaper flint.

Despite many changes effected during the Reformation, resulting in redundancies and ruination but often followed by extensive repair and restoration work several centuries later, these churches still house a number of medieval survivals. Many are kept open and offer information detailing their history and architectural features.

Recommended literature:

The Buildings of England: Norfolk 1, Norwich and North-East
The Buildings of England: Norfolk 2, North-West and South
by Nikolaus Pevsner & Bill Wilson, Yale University Press 1999/2002, ISBN 0-300-09607-0

The Guide to Norfolk Churches
by By D.P. Mortlock & C.V. Roberts, Lutterworth Press 2007, ISBN 978-07188-3064-9

Norfolk Churches by H. Munro Cautley, The Boydell Press: Ipswich 1949/1979, ISBN 0-85115-022-5

Norfolk by Arthur Mee, Hodder and Stoughton 1959

A photographic and historical guide to the Parish Churches of Central, West and East Norfolk (3 volumes) by AS Pye, Micropress Printers Halesworth 2010, ISBN 978-0-9558797-3-9

The ruined and disused churches of Norfolk by Neil Batcock, East Anglian Archaeology Report No 51, 1991, ISBN 0-905594-03-7

The Early Art of Norfolk by Ann Eljenholm Nichols, Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University 2002, ISBN 1-58044-034-7

Parish Churches of Norfolk & Norwich by Claude JW Messent, HW Hunt: Norwich 1936

The Ruined Churches of Norfolk by Claude JW Messent, HW Hunt: Norwich 1931

The Medieval Churches of the City of Norwich by Nicholas Groves, Norwich HEART 2010, ISBN 978-0-9560385-1-7

TG3323 : St Peter's church by Evelyn Simak TG5011 : St Edmund's church by Evelyn Simak TG5112 : Holy Trinity church by Evelyn Simak TG4028 : St Andrew's church viewed from churchyard gate by Evelyn Simak TG1638 : The church of All Saints by Evelyn Simak
TG1637 : St Mary's church by Evelyn Simak TL9594 : St Margaret's church - tower by Evelyn Simak TG1534 : St Peter's church by Evelyn Simak TG1733 : St Mary's church by Evelyn Simak TG1633 : St Andrew's church by Evelyn Simak
TG0600 : St Botolph's church by Evelyn Simak TG5112 : Holy Trinity church - memorial by Evelyn Simak TM0698 : St Peter's church by Evelyn Simak TG0829 : St Andrew's church - view east by Evelyn Simak TG0704 : St Peter's church by Evelyn Simak
TG1931 : Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Evelyn Simak TG1022 : The churches of St Michael and St Mary by Evelyn Simak TG0436 : All Saints church and adjacent cottage by Evelyn Simak TG1319 : St Margaret's church by Evelyn Simak TG2418 : The church of St Swithin and lych gate, Frettenham by Evelyn Simak
TG1617 : St Margaret's church by Evelyn Simak TG3221 : The church of St Lawrence by Evelyn Simak TG1743 : The church of All Saints - screen detail by Evelyn Simak TG2425 : The church of All Saints - view across churchyard by Evelyn Simak TG2129 : St Botolph's church by Evelyn Simak
TG0136 : The church of All Saints by Evelyn Simak TG1001 : Wymondham Abbey - west tower viewed through ruined doorway by Evelyn Simak TG1236 : St Mary's church by Evelyn Simak TG3514 : St Helen's church by Evelyn Simak TG4108 : The church of St Peter & St Paul - view east by Evelyn Simak
TG1939 : St Margaret's church - view from footpath by Evelyn Simak TG1742 : Holy Trinity church and lych gate by Evelyn Simak TG3233 : The church of All Saints by Evelyn Simak TG5112 : Holy Trinity church - view east by Evelyn Simak TG2633 : The church of St Giles by Evelyn Simak
TG2532 : St Mary's church and Church Farm by Evelyn Simak TG1937 : St Andrew's Church by Evelyn Simak TG1837 : The church of St Peter & St Paul by Evelyn Simak TG4010 : St Edmund's church - baptismal font by Evelyn Simak TG2714 : The church of All Saints by Evelyn Simak
TF9813 : The church of St Nicholas by Evelyn Simak TG0704 : St Peter's church - 1950s stained glass by Evelyn Simak TF9402 : The church of St Peter & St Paul by Evelyn Simak TF9109 : St Andrew's Church by Evelyn Simak TF9308 : St Mary's church by Evelyn Simak
TF7043 : St Mary's church by Evelyn Simak TF7343 : The church of All Saints - view through lych gate by Evelyn Simak TF7343 : The church of All Saints - rood screen dado by Evelyn Simak TF7343 : The church of All Saints - C15 bench end by Evelyn Simak TF7743 : St Mary's church by Evelyn Simak
TM0099 : St Peter's church by Evelyn Simak TG0708 : The church of All Saints - porch and tower by Evelyn Simak TG0708 : The church of All Saints - chancel by Evelyn Simak TG0305 : St George's Church by Evelyn Simak TG3309 : The church of SS Andrew & Peter by Evelyn Simak

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