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

All Saints, Walcott

Walcott

Norfolk haze III: Walcott

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    All Saints, Walcott

Surrounded by giants and famous places, Walcott is most often bypassed, except by caravanners in the summer months. The church sits on a fairly busy road inland away from the village with just a couple of cottages for company, rather bleakly in the fields in early spring, but its surroundings grow into it in the summer months. Daffodils for the London market fill the acres around, but the wall-surrounded graveyard still feels a wild space.

As with most of the churches round here, All Saints was rebuilt in the early 15th century. Unlike nearby Hempstead and Swafield, which it otherwise much resembles, the tower was rebuilt here as well, giving us a building which is at once crisp and ancient. The overwhelming impression is of the church's sheer size. A hundred years later, we would be building churches like Shelton, quite different in feel and character, and then the Reformation would put an end to virtually all church building in East Anglia, until the Victorians came along. When they did, they provided elaborate ironwork gates for the porch which pleasingly still bear the maker's mark of the foundry in Stalham that made them.

Thanks to an absence of much coloured glass, All Saints inside is full of light, a typical pleasantly Victorianised space with some decent medieval survivals, including a handsome, tall screen. The font, as with most local churches, is a 13th century Purbeck marble affair, obviously from the earlier church. The piscina and sedilia in the chancel are also fine. The Victorian lump is leavened by some excellent early 20th century work, mainly from the 1920s, including a super art nouveau brass lectern, sensibly bolted to the floor, and an even more unusual art deco organ. The war memorial is also grand, and substantially in the same style.

This seems to have been rather a moribund parish before the geat 19th Century revival. At the time of the 1851 Census of Religious Worship the church was in the care of the grandly named Horatio Nelson William Comyn, who was rector of Brumstead but licensed at Walcott as perpetual curate by the Bishop of Norwich. Just 22 of the parish's 167 people attended the morning service on the day of the census, and the Reverend Comyn noted sadly that the church of Walcott is very badly pewed and there is no pew for the clergyman. Great change was coming.

Simon Knott, August 2019

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looking east chancel
font looking west Walcott war memorial
Killed in Action in France 1st July 1916 Killed in Action near Lens

ironwork: Fitt & Parke Stalham

   

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