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St James, Runcton Holme
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The exterior of the church is attractive, and slightly curious. It is largely a mixture of the three great East Anglian materials, flint, red brick and gingerbread carstone, but it is unusual to see them all in the same building at once The lower part of the tower is a grand Norman survival, an unusual sight, especially when topped out with red brick, and with a very late medieval red brick porch against the nave below. The porch is not large, but seems it - this is a small church. The south doorway gives away the fact that it is also essentially a Norman church, and the body of the nave is older than the tower, which is in an almost clumsy juxtaposition to it.
At some point in the 20th Century, this church was obviously the subject of some considerable Anglo-catholic enthusiasm, and one of the survivals of this is a splendid window by Veronica Whall of the Marys discovering the empty tomb on Easter morning. It is quite her best work in East Anglia.
The Whall window stands out all the more because this is a very plain, very simple church otherwise, the fruit of an early restoration in 1842. There are a few earlier survivals, but not much has happened since, apart from the window. The font is plain and simple, and probably of the late 14th Century. There are intriguing heads looking down from the chancel arch. The grand pulpit of the late 17th Century is supposed to have come from elsewhere. A ledger stone from the following century notes that the lady beneath is Safe from Life on that Eternal Shore, where Sin and Pain and Sorrow are no more.
Simon Knott, September 2009
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