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

St Peter, Sheringham

Sheringham St Peter: a huge barn of a church

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from the south-east east end among the shops

    St Peter, Sheringham
mission statement   Above all else in Norfolk, I love the north-east coast, the area promoted in the late 19th century as Poppyland. Once the railways arrived, and Clement Scott was developing Overstrand, the two main settlements of Cromer and Sheringham became briefly very fashionable, two turn-of-the century seaside resorts with all the architecture that implies. Once the First World War had passed, they fell from favour and disappeared into a kind of timewarp, still attracting in profusion holidaymakers who like exactly that kind of place.

For me, Cromer and Sheringham, with their sandy beaches, rockpools, cliffs, piers and amusements, are the resorts in the Ladybird Book of the Seaside - you expect to meet Peter and Jane, or Janet and John, carrying their buckets and spades down to the shoreline.

The medieval parish of which Sheringham was a part was centred on the small church of All Saints in the remote hamlet of Upper Sheringham. There was a need for an Anglican presence down in the new resort. So, in 1895, this huge barn of a church opened to meet the needs of this vast and sudden influx of holiday makers. It was the work of JP St Aubyn, his last commission - in fact, he died shortly after work commenced. It was completed by his partner, Henry Wadling. The exterior is unknapped flint trimmed with red brick, wholly in keeping with the other buildings of the town. There is a spirelet at the west end above a bell turret. Internally, it is red brick with stone trimming, and reminiscent of Blomfield's work in the same decade. It was obviously intended for High Church worship.

The windows are in an Early English idiom, although, as Pevsner points out, the overall architectural scheme is reminiscent of a great hall of the late Middle Ages. The furnishings of the chancel also point to a 15th century influence, although the nave is thankfully filled with modern chairs. There is a lot of early 20th century glass, and most of it is very good indeed. I particularly like the array of national Saints along the south range. The more recent sacrament windows at the west end are perhaps less good, being a bit kitschy, but they let in a lot of light, for which we may be thankful.

There is a mission statement up at the main door which goes out of its way to emphasise quite how welcoming and inclusive this church is. It makes fascinating reading.

  reflection in the glass of the Blessed Sacrament chapel

Simon Knott, July 2006


looking east chancel sacrament windows east window depicting the Ascension
Blessed Sacrament chapelBaptism and Confirmation Communion and Marriage Christ in the garden of Gethsemane Transfiguration
Baptism of Christ in reflection St David St George St Andrew St David in full

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