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

St Matthias, Thorpe-next-Haddiscoe

Thorpe-next-Haddiscoe

Thorpe-next-Haddiscoe Thorpe-next-Haddiscoe

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St Matthias, Thorpe-next-Haddiscoe

This thatched, round-towered church sits dramatically above the marshes, the river Yare and its tributaries winding lazily below. There is a grand farmhouse beside it, but otherwise we are remote from busy Haddiscoe, of which this Thorpe was a hamlet. The lower part of the tower appears to be Saxon, the chancel is an attractive rebuilding in red-brick, and the nave itself is tiny.

As so often around here you step into a plain, simple church, rather dark on a winter day, but neat and well-kept. The font is one of the late Norman square Purbeck marble fonts more common in the north of the county. There are a couple of curiosities. Just inside the south doorway, within a blind archway, two arched alcoves are set back into the wall, the right hand one with a shelf. It is hard to imagine what they could have been. The shelf may have been a credence shelf which would make the right hand one a piscina and the left hand one an aumbry or perhaps even an image niche, the setting beside a now-vanished altar, but that doesn't seem right for this part of the church. Pevsner thought it might have been an alms cupboard. There are two smaller but similar alcoves set into the eastern face of one of the pillars of the arcade at Haddiscoe. Intriguing.

A little brass plate of 1534 has an inscription asking for prayers for the souls of John and Elizabeth Mutter. As Cameron Newham pointed out to me, it is interesting because the lettering is decorated with little scrolls and flicks - there are several brasses like this in the area, including the one under the carpet at Seething, presumably all the work of the same hand, and it may have been a way of adding character to a plate that was, by this late stage before the Reformation, never intended to have an image associated with it.

Simon Knott, November 2020

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looking east font double piscina
orate pro anima John Mutter et Elizabeth uxor eis

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