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All Saints, East Winch
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Saints, East Winch
The grandness of the church may be explained by the fact that East Winch was the home parish of the Howards, the Dukes of Norfolk, and their memorials were in a chapel at the east end of the south aisle. This had fallen into decay by the 18th Century, and in 1875 a big restoration of the church by George Gilbert Scott replaced it somewhat prosaically with an organ chamber.
The first impression on stepping inside is of a slightly faded grandeur. The font panels bear the shields of the Howards, a reminder of past glories. The arcades pace majestically eastwards towards the long chancel, the aisles filled with mottled light from coloured and clear glass. Ninian Comper's font cover from the eve of the First World War sets the tone, speaking of that period of triumphalism in the Church of England when anything must have seemed possible. Turning east, the view is inexorably drawn to the great five-light window in the chancel, the wholly excellent 1876 work of Clayton & Bell, the workshop at its very best. Christ the Good Shepherd, always a difficult subject, is flanked by the parable of the Good Samaritan on one side and the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins on the other. It is original and innovative work, finely drawn.
Less happy, perhaps, is Ward & Hughes 1901 glass of the risen Christ flanked by two angels, but it is interesting as an example of something that happened around the turn of the Century and continued until the First World War. This was that, again and again, angels became effeminate and then actually female. Gone were the manly figures of the earlier Victorian period, and it was not until the 1920s that angels became masculine, strong and fearsome again. This tendency is observable across all the major workshops of the period. I don't know why it happened. I expect the angels here provided something of a distraction to the repressed Edwardian male during the Sunday sermon.
There are two very good 13th Century coffin lids at the east end of the north aisle. One is deeply cut with a floriated cross, roses and what appear to be an axe and a set square. The other has two omega symbols in relief, back to back.
Simon Knott, August 2016
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