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

St Andrew, Claxton

Claxton

Claxton Claxton

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St Andrew, Claxton

This distinctive church sits in a high-hedged ancient space miles from anywhere, just a cottage or two for company, the nearest major road miles away. The tall tower, its flintwork picked out attractively in red brick, looks down on a neatly thatched nave. This is a small church, but was obviously once of more consequence, for set in the north wall of the nave is the ghost of an arcade. There was once an aisle here. It is a late Norman church at heart, expanded for the heady days of the late medieval liturgy but then reduced to what it once was and is now. On the south side, the red-brick porch and windows in the tower show that money was still being spent early in the 16th century, and the small chancel was rebuilt in the 1860s. A late 12th Century piscina surviving in the chancel and the contemporary north and south doorways probably give a good idea of the date of the completion of the current church. The small structure on top of the tower, which looks like nothing so much as a garden shed from some angles, is probably an 18th Century addition.

There is no coloured glass and so you step inside to a harmonious creamy grey light, a prayerbook feel perhaps, that comes from the brick floors, whitewashed walls and painted box pews cut back to form benches. Everything is spare and simple, from the bare wood of the sanctuary to the light spilling from the windows. The familiar 15th Century East Anglian font for once seems imposing in this simplicity, as even does the unusually restrained 1637 memorial to Sir Henry Gawdy which would disappear in a more vibrant space. Instead, there is a cool, clean peace at one with the fields outside. Long may it remain so.

Simon Knott, November 2020

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looking east chancel font Claxton

   
               
                 

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