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

St Margaret, Drayton


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    St Margaret, Drayton
St Elizabeth meets the Blessed Virgin   There's something a bit relentless about the Norwich suburbia which sprawls along the road to Fakenham, but not far from the busy road I was delighted to discover a children's play area which had obviously once been a village green. Some old houses lined one side, and above them was the little church. It was easy to see that Drayton had once been a village.

There was a big black car parked in the gateway, and I didn't really register the reason for a moment. We climbed the pathway, passing large rose beds cut out of the grass, a somewhat suburban intrusion in the otherwise rural character of what is a lovely graveyard. They would be more at home on a traffic island, I think. A black-suited man was standing outside the south door. He greeted us expectantly, and then it dawned on me. At this moment, the robed minister stepped out, and seemed disappointed that we were not there for the interment of ashes, but said that we were very welcome to take a look inside the church. And so we did.

The Victorians were generally busy in the suburbs of Norwich, and the interior of St Margaret is as crisp and neat as the outside. But I liked it for this; it felt a busy place, obviously well loved and looked after, with the smell of lilies and wood polish that are evocative of the pride of that century before we were born. The church was pretty much rebuilt during the third quarter of that century, a process made necessary by the tower collapsing into the nave in 1850.

The restoration has left a great curiosity. When the chancel arch was rebuilt further east, and an aisle added to the north, the stone entrance to the old rood loft stairway was rescued, and now sits like a sentry box in the north arcade.

There are two excellent panels of continental glass in a south window. One depicts Anna at the Presentation in the Temple, while the other is a beautiful Visitation, the Blessed Virgin placing her comforting hand on the arm of the elderly St Elizabeth, their eyes meeting in an expression of hope. Interestingly, the window sill beneath it has a piscina drain set into it, showing that there was once an altar here.

The east end of the north aisle forms a little chapel, and the glass in the north corner is a beautiful etched glass rendition of the Blessed Virgin and child. The 19th century glass in this aisle is all good, particularly the Presentation in the Temple scene, and from a few decades later comes a brass which notes, unusually, that the person remembered by it died from effects of poison gas, which I don't think I have seen on a memorial before.


Simon Knott, January 2009

looking east sanctuary font
Anna visitation Blessed Virgin and Child Christchild 
two doves in a cage sill piscina from effects of poison gas
at the foot of the cross war memorial rood stair entrance St John at the foot of the cross

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