Historic churches to visit in NorfolkPosted: 2011-05-25
Yesterday I wrote about some of my favourite historic places to visit in Norfolk. That article included details on medieval monasteries, historic towns and villages, castles, and stately homes. One subject that I missed out was historic churches - because there are so many to choose from that I figured I needed a separate article to cover my favourites.
And here we are, a list of my top picks for historic churches in Norfolk. Some may be obvious choices, like Norwich Cathedral, but some are simple country churches that are little known but still offer something magical for anyone interested in history.
Here we go, my top picks for the best historic churches in Norfolk. As always, these are places I have personally visited and enjoyed.
Norwich Cathedral - lets get the obvious choice out of the way first! The cathedral is one of the most enjoyable large churches to visit in England. I particularly enjoyed the cloister, with views through the arches to the amazing steeple atop the tower.
Hales - this simple little thatched round-tower church is one of the best examples of early Norman work in East Anglia. The Norman doorway is wonderful, and the interior boasts some excellent wall paintings and a very nice 15th-century font.
Trunch - the church of St Botolph at Trunch is known for its amazing carved font canopy, a symphony of 15th-century woodwork. There is a medieval painted screen, nicely carved misericords, and a wonderful 15th-century hammerbeam roof decorated with carved angels.
Worstead (external link) - the town is famed for its cloth-making history, but the church is best visited for its carved and painted medieval rood screen.
Northwold, St Andrews - generally acknowledges as one of the finest medieval parish churches in England, Northwold is known for its 14th century Easter Sepulchre, one of the best-preserved in the country. There are wall paintings, a striking Perpendicular tower, and a superb 14th-century nave arcade.
Oxborough - standing in the shadow of moated Oxburgh Hall, the church of St John that we see today is only part of the original building. Though the exterior is unexceptional, what is inside more than makes up for that; in the Bedingfield Chapel are a pair of extraordinary fanciful tombs to late medieval Bedingfields of Oxburgh Hall, made of terracotta of all things, and carved with marvellous skill.
Saxthorpe - a late Saxon church by the River Bure, St Andrew's has a wealth of wonderful carved wooden roof bosses, some of which are almost certainly portraits of local people. There are excellent poppyhead bench carvings, a medieval screen, and a stone corbel thought to be a likeness of the Earl of Pembroke. Look for the sanctuary knocker on the door.
Walsoken - a marvellous church with one of the best Seven Sacrament fonts in East Anglia. There is a hammer-beam roof decorated with carved figures, and striking wall paintings.
East Harling - a Perpendicular church with a superb collection of medieval stained glass. There is a medieval rood screen and carved misericords and fascinating 15th and 16th-century tombs to the Lovell and Herling families.
These are just a few of my own personal highlights of churches I have visited and enjoyed throughout the county. There are plenty more, so get out there and start exploring!
Our own Norfolk Travel Guide
Norfolk Churches - Simon Knott's wonderful compendium
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