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

St Peter, West Rudham

West Rudham

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    St Peter, West Rudham

There's not much to tell East and West Rudham apart, other than that East Rudham is up on the main road to King's Lynn, and West Rudham straggles along and finally peters out in the narrow lanes towards Great Massingham. Just before the village completely disappears there's the church, set back from the road in a deliciously overgrown churchyard full of 18th Century headstones. In truth, not much happened here after the 18th Century. Pevsner went into ecstasies at the puzzle over which bits came first, but generally speaking we are looking at a late 13th Century church which was completed in the early 14th Century. The chancel was partly rebuilt in the 19th Century. Very curiously, the south doorway is set well below the level of the churchyard, and there are steps down to it.

With such a big church less than a mile off in the centre of the village, St Peter was always going to be a candidate for redundancy. It was allowed to fall into considerable decay until English Heritage came along in the 1990s, wagged its finger and part-funded a massive restoration. The Norfolk Churches Trust funded the rest and still looks after it today.

There is no reason for this church not to be open other than the lack of someone to do the opening and closing. The keyholder lives miles off, and I was on my bike. It always seems a pity that when buildings have received large amounts of what is basically public money, the public aren't able to see the fruits of that investment. Surely it should be possible for the key to be available at the village shop, as it is for East Rudham? Well, I dare say I felt a bit frustrated. But in truth, this is a lovely spot on a summer day, and really I was quite content to wander around the insect-humming churchyard in the soft heat, exploring and discovering. But yes, I would have liked to have seen inside the church.

  south doorway

Simon Knott, August 2016

cherubs hold a garlanded but blank tablet Scottish thistle angel in a roundel writing on a tablet with a quill, flanked by cherubs Godhead appearing in clouds of glory

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