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

St Margaret, Sea Palling

Sea Palling

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    St Margaret, Sea Palling

Sea Palling, or simply Palling as it is sometimes known, sits on a gentle rise above the sea, a junction around which houses and a pub cluster. The church is set back behind the houses, and it is not easily seen from the main road. The tower is an early one, with the feel of the 13th century about it, but this is an otherwise much restored building, and inevitably so, because it was ruinous at the time of the Commonwealth, and was patched up after the Restoration in the late 17th century. What you see today outside looks pretty much all Victorian, but the date 1674 is still above the south porch.

Eastwards from the graveyard here you see the long, low green sea wall, holding back the murderous North Sea. On this beautiful summer's day in June 2019 the wide, blue expanse was as still as glass, but you don't have to live in East Anglia for long to know what terrible things the sea can do. On a cold dark night at the end of January 1953 the waves broke through all down this coast. Hundreds died in the eastern counties, but such large numbers hide individual tragedies, often in tiny communities. Tiny Sea Palling lost seven people, four from the same family, three of them children. A small plaque remembers them in the church.

But it is hard to feel sad in this bright, lovely graveyard. The south side of the church has been planted with large garden shrubs, which doesn't sound as attractive as it was. I love to see, and smell, Buddleia in a graveyard, and quite obviously so did the butterflies dancing around it. Inside, the church is clean, bright and simply furnished, without any outstanding early survivals. As at several churches along this coast, the feel is overwhelmingly of the early years of the 20th century. There are two blocked windows in the west wall of the nave, either side of the tower. On the north side of the chancel there is what may be a banner stave locker. The font is a good one of the 14th century, but perhaps most memorable here are the mission boards from the Sea Palling lifeboat. These are more usually displayed in lifeboat stations. Given the recent history of Sea Palling, it was moving and appropriate to see them here.

And, I'm afraid, the tragedies don't end there. A brass plaque remembers Charles, Percy and Reginald Hall, three brothers in their twenties who were killed in the Great War. It is hard to imagine how any parents ever survive that.

Simon Knott, September 2019

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looking east looking west
font war memorial altar chancel Saint John the Evangelist Waxham Saint Margaret Palling M U font
The residents of Sea Palling who lost their lives in the 1953 East Coast Floods life boat boards three brothers of this parish who gave their lives for their country in the Great War

   

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