home I index I latest I glossary I introductions I e-mail I about this site
St Mary, Watton
the captions by hovering over the images, and click on them to
see them enlarged.
As part of the Initiative, the local churches were encouraged to be open, or at least accessible. It took some of them longer than others to come around to this way of thinking, but today, at last, virtually all of the Watton area churches have either keyholder notices or open doors. St Mary is open when the parish office, in an extension on the north side, is open. At other times, there is a key.
The church sits on the edge of the town on the road to Dereham, and it is that unusual thing, an urban round-towered church. There are only about half a dozen of these left in East Anglia, because most urban churches underwent considerable renewal during the medieval period. However, at first glance it is obvious that the major rebuilding work here was done at a much later date. The little 13th Century church is flanked by two massive 19th century aisles. It is as if three churches had been joined together side by side, and reminds me of boats floating in a bunch, tied together. As if in sympathy, older headstones in the graveyard have also been collected together into bunches, to allow for easy mowing.
As you would expect, you step into an interior which is almost entirely Victorian, but it is actually more interesting than it first appears, because the massive rebuilding of this church happened in 1840. The aisles were built to accomodate an extra 220 seats in what was still a kind of preaching box: there is no view into the chancel from most of the church. The great wave of enthusiasm, generated by the Oxford Movement and the Camden Society, to restore our parish churches to their medieval integrity with a focus on the altar, had still to reach this lonely place; and so, this is one of the last pre-Ecclesiological restorations in England.
Simon Knott, November 2008
Amazon commission helps cover the running costs of this site.
home I index I latest I introductions I e-mail I about
this site I glossary
Norwich I ruined churches I desktop backgrounds I round tower churches
links I small print I www.simonknott.co.uk I www.suffolkchurches.co.uk