All Saints Church

Untitled
Home Page All Saints Church Village Hall Parish Council Local Ameneties Sports & Pastimes Clubs & Societies

This is a fine location on the top of a hill at one end of the village, on the road leading to Bawdeswell. It is a grade one listed building and has a number of interesting features, which make it well worth a visit.

It is not the first church on this site, for one was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. The present church was probably begun in about 1370. We know for certain that the church was in course of construction in 1379 because it was then that Sir William de Morley bequeathed the sum of ten marks (£6-13s-4d) and a gilt cup to the church.

It is a large church for a village and it was built to a very ambitious design. In particular the aisles of the nave extend to ‘embrace’ the tower, which is supported on three sides by massive arches (See plan). The effect of this is to give a large open space at the west end. One can only speculate why such a large space was required, because the rest of the nave would have been more than ample for the congregation. However, it should be remembered that the naves of churches were used for many secular purposes at that time.

The stone tracery in the aisle windows, which is in a very early Perpendicular style, is particularly fine.

THE BELLS

We do not know what bells the church had in medieval times, but we do know from an inventory compiled in 1552 that at that time there were just two bells.

It’m one steple bell weyeng by esttymacion xijcwt at xv the cwt..(worth ixli )

It’m one lytle bell callyd the gabreyell weyeng by estymacion lvjli after xvs the cwt ……………………………………(worth viijs )

The ‘Gabreyell’ was the little sanctus bell (see Sanctus Window)

Sadly, this inventory was taken during the reign of Edward VI, for a visitation by the Earl of Northumberland’s agents. Their main purpose was to remove anything of value, and you can see that two bells were just valued as scrap metal.

In 1623 the churchwardens deemed it safe to replace the bells and commissioned John Draper of Thetford to cast a new ring four new bells. Three of these remain and they all bear the inscription “John Draper made me 1623.

A fifth bell was added in 1730. This was cast in Norwich by Thomas Newman and it bears the inscription “Tho: Newman made mee 1730 Peter Rix, William Ingledow C.W.”

At the beginning of the twentieth century the bell installation was in poor condition, so a new oak frame was made and the bells rehung. However in the 1980s one of John Draper’s bells developed a dangerous crack. A replacement was found in 1990 when Erpingham church was disposing of redundant bells, but this was never satisfactory.

In 2000 the five existing bells were taken to the bell-foundry of John Taylor & Co at Loughborough for retuning. At the same time a new treble bell, funded by the Friends of All Saints, was cast to match the five heavier bells. So the church now has a full peal of six bells, and this has attracted an enthusiastic group of ringers.

BRASSES AND MEMORIALS

The church does not contain any ancient brasses, the oldest being a fifteenth century one asking us in Latin to pray for the soul of John Bone.

Perhaps the most interesting memorials are two in the chancel to members of the Le Neve family. Amazingly, this family provided rectors for All Saints more or less continuously from 1592 to 1742. The succession was only broken twice; once during the Commonwealth period (1649–1660) when Francis Le Neve was ejected from the living because of his royalist sympathies, and again from 1680-1711, when William Jegon was the rector (but even he was appointed by a member of the Le Neve family).

At the beginning of the twentieth century the bell installation was in poor condition, so a new oak frame was made and the bells rehung. However in the 1980s one of John Draper’s bells developed a dangerous crack. A replacement was found in 1990 when Erpingham church was disposing of redundant bells, but this was never satisfactory.

In 2000 the five existing bells were taken to the bell-foundry of John Taylor & Co at Loughborough for retuning. At the same time a new treble bell, funded by the Friends of All Saints, was cast to match the five heavier bells. So the church now has a full peal of six bells, and this has attracted an enthusiastic group of ringers.

THE CHANCEL

Some points of interest here include:

A pair of ancient stalls with carved gilt lions on their armrests.

THE CLOCK

In his guidebook to the church, Martial Rose says that the silence chamber in the tower houses a turret clock, which was fully restored, complete with electric auto wind, as a farewell gift from RAF Swanton Morley in 1993. It is a cast iron four-poster with two gear trains, one to keep the time and one to strike the hours on the bell. The pendulum beats at one and a half seconds and is controlled by a pinwheel escapement, whilst the strike is controlled by an outside count-wheel.

It is thought that the clock was probably bought from one of the London manufacturers and was installed by Palmer of West Tofts on behalf of the Reverend Augustus Sutton (1825-85), of West Tofts, who possibly financed the project.

 

The clock had a narrow escape in 1898 when the tower was struck by lightning. The parish magazine reported that:

“The clock was also struck, the electric fluid severing the steel-wire rope which carries the weights, and these in consequence fell into the church and broke into pieces the oak Parish Chest, scattering its contents in all directions.”