Binham Cockthorpe Langham Morston Stiffkey

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

St Andrew and St Mary, Langham

Big and characterless.

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    St Andrew and St Mary, Langham
From the village street.   Langham is a nice village, and this is a nice church in a nice graveyard. A member of the Nelson family was buried here at the age of 102. Robert Preston has a coffin, an egg-timer and crossed bones on his 18th century stone, and the author Captain Maryatt was also buried here, which is quite interesting. The church is big, well-kept and neatly managed. It is all, as I say, very nice. There was plenty of money around here in the late 15th century, and this church was extensively rebuilt at the time, on a very big scale. There is a south aisle and clerestory, although neither of these are on the north towards the village street. All was very much restored by the Victorians, and is quite characterless.

The inside is large, light and attractive, without a huge amount of excitement. There is a curious blank archway that may once have led to a chapel. The great treasure here is a pair of superb Burne-Jones windows depicting Hope and Faith, which are set in the north aisle (this may seem a curious place, given how dark the glass is). I was also fascinated by the graffito on the font: Alice Nettleton baptised the 14th day of April 1692. The font comes from the lost church of St Mary, Langham Parva. The two parishes were combined, hence the liturgically ignorant modern dedication of this building. Take a look at the Royal Arms too, altered successively to reflect the current monarch from the early 17th century through to the mid-18th century, a roller-coaster ride through the royals from the Stuarts to the Hanovers. I wonder what happened to them during the commonwealth (the arms, not the royals).

Aside from that, and as pleasant a building as it is, there isn't a huge amount to detain you.

There are some churches that inspire awe and wonder, or, as Mortlock said of Badley in Suffolk, stick like a burr in the memory. Sometimes, you step into a mystical interior, where ancient calm settles on your shoulders like snow, or into glorious splendour that brings you to your knees exclaiming take me home, Jesus! Some churches are like that.

But this is not one of them. It is a typically comfortable 20th century Anglican parish church, fitting for its purpose and none the worse for that.

  A fine 18th century gravestone

Simon Knott, November 2004

You can also read: an introduction to the churches of Binham and beyond


The sanctuary Looking west Burne Jones: Hope and Faith Hope Faith
Disbelief South aisle chapel Long-suffering Royal Arms Graffito font
War memorial - unusually, set in a wall opposite the church Catherine and William Nelson

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