Breckles Lynford Merton Thompson Threxton

home I index I introductions I e-mail I about this site

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

St Peter, Merton

St Peter from the north west

Read the captions by hovering over the images, and click on them to see them enlarged.
A textbook of window tracery Merton Hall sans llamas

    St Peter, Merton
Merton inside in more enlightened times. Photo (c) Tom Muckley   As I observed on the introduction to this church, there is something incongruous about the setting of St Peter. Its appearance is rugged and primitive, like a building you might expect to find lost in a forest; but here it is, set down in polite parkland, with the mighty pile of Merton Hall, former home of the Lords of Walsingham, for company.

It is beside a major road, there are houses around, the Diocese encourages its churches to be open and all of the neighbouring ones are. But St Peter is firmly locked, and there is no keyholder notice. Is this the fault of the churchwardens, the Vicar or the insurance company? Well, Ecclesiastical Insurance encourages its churches to open their buildings during the day, and as the Vicar here is also responsible for open Thompson, we may assume that it is the churchwardens' decision.

Perhaps they have not heard that an open church is the greatest act of witness that the Church of England has.

I was pleased that Tom Muckley was able to send me his image, above, of the screen that he had taken in a more enlightened age, because try as we might Chris Harrison and I were unable to track down a key. Tom wrote the article about rood screens on this site, and I know that he is a fan of the Merton screen, considering it a fine one, and similar to that at his beloved Thompson nearby.

But I am reduced to recalling the outside, and repeating what others have written about the inside in books. Fortunately for me, fortunately for us all, John Salmon has also been inside, and you can see his images of the contents below.

They include an excellent collection of 19th century glass - I know that this is one of John's areas of interest, so he must have had great fun. There are medieval bench ends, a fine piscina and sedilia, and what is reportedly Norfolk's only set of three-sided Laudian altar rails. It all looks fascinating, and I wish I could have seen it.

  Norfolk's only three-sided altar rails (c) John Salmon
angels playing harps, St Peter and St John (c) John Salmon   The outside is not without interest. The round tower has not been elaborated like that of nearby Breckles, and the window tracery is like a textbook of the various periods. The pre-Reformation north porch is simple, but wholly preferable to the ugly, pompous south porch built in the 19th century by the Walsinghams as their private entrance. I stood here, looking across at the idyllic setting of the Hall, and was rather surprised when two Llamas suddenly leapt inquisitively from behind a tree and rushed across to investigate me.

Fortunately, a fence separated me from them, so they were unable to force their snorting, slavering maws into my crotch, in the manner of big dogs. As a cat lover, I find myself incapable of understanding why anyone would want to burden themselves with the care of a large, stupid dog, particularly one that so obviously wants to eat me. "It's alright", their owners will always shout from a safe distance, "he won't hurt you!"

"No, but I might hurt him", I always want to call back, in my best Bill Bryson voice. Similarly, the llamas caught the steely determination in my eye, and backed off rapidly. It was only afterwards that I thought I might have asked them where the key was.

Simon Knott, July 2004

You can also read: an introduction to churches beyond the battle zone I


east window (c) John Salmon chancel (c) John Salmon looking east (c) John Salmon font (c) John Salmon piscina (c) John Salmon 
squint and corbel (c) John Salmon cobbled together two-decker pulpit, like Thompson (c) John Salmon three tuns (c) John Salmon prie dieu (c) John Salmon three tuns (c) John Salmon
St ?, St Margaret, St John (c) John Salmon St Matthias, St Simon, St ? (c) John Salmon St Thomas, St Matthew, St Peter (c) John Salmon St Thomas, St Andrew, St Bartholomew (c) John Salmon
four Evangelists (c) John Salmon heraldic shields (c) John Salmon time flies (c) John Salmon St Peter's keys (c) John Salmon   keys and time (c) John Salmon broken angels (c) John Salmon heraldic shields (c) John Salmon
brass (c) John Salmon Tollemache memorial (c) John Salmon piscina and sedilia (c) John Salmon rood screen from east (c) John Salmon

an introduction to churches beyond the battle zone I

Breckles Lynford Merton Thompson Threxton

Free Guestbook from Bravenet 

Amazon commission helps cover the running costs of this site.

home I index I latest I introductions I e-mail I about this site I glossary
links I small print I I
ruined churches I desktop backgrounds I round tower churches

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