Bedingham Topcroft Woodton

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

All Saints, Woodton

Woodton: austere, but lovely inside

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    All Saints, Woodton
Norfolk in the mist   The wonderful Hempnall group of parishes, whose churches are all lovingly kept, warmly welcoming and open every day, includes this rather severe looking building in the fields to the north of its village. It is full of interest. From the graveyard you look south to neighbouring St Andrew, Bedingham, riding the ridge beyond the village. A third near-neighbour, St Margaret, Topcroft, is out of sight beyond.

Although the structure is very simple, the range of window tracery is a delight, including delicate, elaborate Decorated patterns, some of which still contain medieval glass. In the highly ornate east window of the north aisle is a rare survival, the instruments of the passion, and below it two Saints. The left hand one is obviously St Catherine, and if you look closely at the feet of the other you will see a dragon being crushed, and so this is St Margaret.

The Victorian glass in the chancel is also of interest. It depicts three unusual subjects, the Baptism of Christ, the Temptation of Christ and Christ in the garden of Gethsemane. It was originally in a church in Kent, but came to be sold in the 1930s because, it is said, the parishioners there did not like the hideous devil standing behind Christ in the central panel. It was bought by the Vicar of Woodton. However, when he got it home he discovered that it was too wide - and so, to make it fit, the devil was removed anyway. You can just see the remains of one green, scaly wing behind the figure of Christ.

Modern angel with a pelican in her piety St Catherine Instruments of the passion above the Saints St Margaret The Tenterden window

The north aisle chapel must have been of some importance. As well as the window, there is a squint through to the chancel, with a wise corbel head looking down. In the chancel itself, there is an excellent example of a doored aumbry in the east wall, a substantial piscina, and memorials to the Suckling family, more famously of Barsham. An earlier family, the Koppyngs, left a brass inscription in the nave asking for prayers for the soul of one of their number.

The font is curious. On the face of it a plain, square Norman affair, it has been reset on elaborate columns and has arcading inscribed into its sides. The result is very pleasing, I think.

Simon Knott, March 2005


Looking east

Norman font Elaborate tracery in the south aisle Suckling memorial Pray for the soul of Thomas Koppyng...
Aumbrey in the east wall Head and squint into chancel The squint from the other end Piscina

Bedingham Topcroft Woodton

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