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The Norfolk Churches Site: an occasional sideways glance at the churches of Norfolk

All Saints, Bodham

bodham: small, locked

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considerably rebuilt restored in the 20th century wall like a seaside cottage 

    All Saints, Bodham
tiles reset in the stoup - medieval?   My experience of East Anglia's railways has been almost wholly good; but on this particular day it had taken me three and a half hours to get from Ipswich to Cromer, a journey that usually takes a little under two. This wasn't the end of the world, but I knew that John Salmon was waiting for me at Cromer station, and the replacement bus service between Ipswich and Diss meant that I got into Norwich two minutes after the Cromer train drew out.

Daylight hours are at a premium by November, so this was frustrating, but it was a bright, clear day, and I took the opportunity to hasten up into Norwich city centre and retake a few exteriors that had been blanketed in mist on my recent visit. And then it was time for the next train, and I was off to the coast.

John picked me up, and we headed into the wilds, Bodham to be precise. One of the delights of this part of Norfolk is that virtually all the churches are open and welcoming. Well, this one wasn't. We did a tour of the outside, noting that it was a small church, considerably rebuilt in the 19th century, including several walls and all the windows. The tower was refurbished in the 20th, so there isn't a lot that is ancient, although there are what appear to be medieval floor tiles reset in the exterior holy water stoup, presumably by Victorians. The north wall of the nave is also rather curious, being rebuilt with unknapped flints and red brick buttresses, as if this was a holiday cottage.

There was no keyholder listed, but we tracked down a churchwarden at a local farm. She'd just gone out, but her jolly husband was willing to help. Unfortunately, he had no idea what the key looked like, eventually giving us a set that he didn't recognise on the grounds that 'I can't think what else they could be'. We hurried back to the church, but none of the keys fitted any of the doors.

Peering wistfully through the window and taking the snap on the right, it looked pretty, but I had to admit that it didn't seem as if we were missing much. John had been keen to photograph the J & J King east window, and I would have liked to have sat in the pews, which came from Beckham workhouse chapel. But that's about all, and it was not to be. We took the keys back, and the nice man admitted that they were probably the ones for the village hall. Ah well. And so, on to Briston. Fortunately, John is a more tenacious man than me, coming back a week or so later and tracking down another keyholder in, of all places, the village hall.   peering wistfully through the window

Some of John's photos are below. Here we see the extraordinary pulpit, which also came from Beckham workhouse, a font which may be uncarved or, more excitingly, cemented over, a royal arms for Queen Anne, the seemly sanctuary with its fine east window, and even a couple of medieval brasses with Catholic prayer clauses. See, there was more of interest than I had imagined.

Simon Knott, November 2005


  the view east (c) John Salmon font - uncarved, or still cemented over? (c) John Salmon seemly sanctuary (c) John Salmon family pew (c) John Salmon
organ (c) John Salmon pulpit from Beckham workhouse (c) John Salmon barrel-vaulted roof (c) John Salmon ledger (c) John Salmon image niche with Our Lady of Walsingham (c) John Salmon
east window (c) John Salmon nativity (c) John Salmon crucifixion (c) John Salmon ascension (c) John Salmon
royal arms of Queen Anne (c) John Salmon The Revd Norris (c) John Salmon
medieval brass I (c) John Salmon
medieval brass I (c) John Salmon

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The Norfolk Churches Site: an occasional sideways glance at the churches of Norfolk