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St Peter, Easton
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The south porch is pretty, a battered and restored victim of the years, but attractive in its mixture of building materials against the rendered nave. It is very tall, so perhaps there was an upper room once. It conceals a delightful surprise, the doorway. It is about as elaborate as Norman got before handing the baton on to Early English, and is the only survival of the original church on this spot - or, almost the only survival, as we will see.
At present, this church is open to outsiders on Saturdays only. Perhaps this is to keep the Diocesan officers out during the week, I mused, as I stepped into a tall, open space, full of light. All the old furniture has been removed and replaced with modern chairs, which always looks good, and the balcony enclosed by a tall glass and pine screen, which reaches up to the rafters. I couldn't help being reminded of the final scene of the film The Graduate.
St Peter has two curiosities, neither of which are easily explained. The first is the doorway, a passageway really, from the east end of the north aisle into the chancel. There is something similar at nearby Marlingford, but at both churches the chancel is a Victorian rebuilding. Was it something retained, or a local 19th century fancy?
The other oddity is the room at the west end of the aisle, now modernised and fitted out with a lavatory and kitchen. I had seen something similar at Salhouse the previous year. The suggestion there is that it is the base of a former tower, and the same may be true here as well. Perhaps the builders of the nave in the 14th century moved the doorway from its former position to the current site.
I stepped outside to find that it was snowing. I walked around to the north side, admiring the elaborate flushwork; this must have been a very grand church once. The sound from the traffic got louder, and St Peter seemed rather beleagured, the 21st century rushing past it, making such a noise. As I stood looking, I realised that there was a recent child's grave right beside me, covered in flowers and teddies. How sad. The misplaced apostrophe in the inscription made it all the more poignant.
Simon Knott, March 2006
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