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

All Saints, Tattersett

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simplicity of the 13th century Ralph Elvis Mallett I blocked north door and tower fields on all four sides

    All Saints, Tattersett

All Saints is barely half a mile from the nearest road, but it seems more remote. Surrounded by fields on all four sides, a rough track doglegs through them to reach its wide graveyard. But when you get here, this has the feel of a well-loved and well-used place. A surprise, because we really are apart from civilisation here. There are farm buildings in the vale to the north, and the glint of some caravans towards the Fakenham road. And as we approached the church, groups of partridges and a pheasant or two scuttled away from it through the furrows, squawking in alarm. Apart from the wind, it was the only noise.

The church was built at a time when Decorated architecture was beginning to flower, and apart from a 19th century restoration and a general tidying up in the early part of the 20th century, the only later signs are a couple of Perpendicular windows. The south porch has also been altered, its entrance now a curious splayed shape. You step in through the original door into a church that is open every day.

It is a tiny, narrow building, striking both for how lonely and how well-kept it is. There is a subtlety to the interior, the colours muted, as if the slowness of passing time has bleached them.The font is plain, of the early 14th century; the sober, narrow pews face away from it in silence. A brick outlined sedilia and piscina must date from the early 16th century. There are remains of a wall-painting on the south nave wall; Pevsner says the martyrdom of St Erasmus, but it is too indistinct to tell.

There is a quiet nobility to the interior; I sat for a while, hearing no traffic, nothing but the occasional coop-coop of a pheasant.

Looking at the visitors book, I saw that this church gets nearly all its visitors in August; holiday-makers walking up through the fields from the small caravan site on the road below find All Saints year after year. It was pleasing to see some names repeated from years previously; nice to think that people in far off Midlands industrial cities went about their business knowing that a piece of their heart was here at Tattersett.

Curiously, this parish once had two churches. The other, St Andrew in the lost hamlet of Sengham, was about half a mile to the south. No trace of it remains. In the graveyard, another curiosity; a handmade guitarist-shaped gravestone in plaster of Paris, to someone called Ralph Elvis Mallett. Another grave marker with the same name is about ten feet away; I'm sure that someone will read this and write to me to explain.

Simon Knott, October 2005


looking east chancel sanctuary looking west
martyrdom of St Erasmus? font restoration memorial Tudor piscina and sedilia outline  

Ralph Elvis Mallett II

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