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

All Saints, Freethorpe

Freethorpe: click to view large

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wide graveyard from the south-east elegant symmetry

    All Saints, Freethorpe
hat   There is something beguiling about this pretty round towered church just off the main road south through the Yare valley. Perhaps it is that little conical cap perched on the tower top, or the way this wide-aisled church seems to spread its wings on the ground. It looks thoroughly comfortable. We are used to seeing the round-towered churches in the little parishes of south-east Norfolk perched on rises in tightly bounded graveyards, but the churchyard at Freethorpe sprawls lazily, a wide open green velvet setting for such a pretty little jewel.

The tower is a big, rugged Norman one, looking as if it could do double service as a small fortress. As unusual as it is to find a round towered church with two aisles, it must be said that the rebuilding here in the 19th century was considerable.

Although the arcades themselves are certainly medieval, Anthony Salvin rebuilt the aisles, and it is hard to find anything old in the body of the building. Inside, the impression is of an immaculately-kept High Victorian church, rather urban in its polished wood and tiling.

The Walpole family were important in this parish. Their VW symbol is in the west window, and can also be found on the estate cottages across the road. A reminder of the refurbishment is also in the glass, showing the Walpole arms, and an inscription which records that the interior was restored in 1849, although I think that some of the furnishings we see now must be later than this.

All Saints feels a clean, neat, warm church; despite the aisles it is not big, and the square space feels intimate. Tom thought the chancel properly Anglican, a perfect little space which is fitting for its purpose. The corbel heads supporting the roof look as if they have stepped out of 19th century portraits, and in truth this church is one of the best small-scale examples in this part of Norfolk of the Victorian imagination. Even better, you will be able to see inside it; unusually for the Yare Valley, All Saints is open every day.


Simon Knott, December 2007

looking east sanctuary head
Walpole heraldic 1849 VW

died suddenly Chapman

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