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

St Mary, Yelverton

Yelverton

Yelverton Yelverton flint and brick

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St Mary, Yelverton

Yelverton is a fairly large and pleasant village to the east of Poringland, its houses settled on the wide village street where St Mary sits in its walled graveyard. We have reached the outer limits of Norwich commuterland, and beyond here south-east Norfolk dissolves into rugged fields with little villages huddled away from each other, the roads taking on the patterns of the past.

Some churches are all of a piece, but you can see at a glance that St Mary is not. Some of Norfolk's most charming churches are those that seem to have been shaped organically by the buffetings of history, and this is one of them. Nothing is in proportion, a delightful clustering of work of different periods. The stubby little brick tower, rebuilt in the late 17th Century, and the massing of the tall chancel, squeeze a small nave that even with its clerestory barely seems to peep above the roofline of its south aisle. At one time the south porch windows contained early 19th Century glass by the Great Yarmouth-based painter Samuel Yarrington, but it was vulnerable and so at the start of the current century a pair of stained glass windows by that most vibrant of East Anglian stained glass artists Pippa Blackall were installed to replace them and they were moved to safety. The new glass uses the themes of pentecostal fire and baptismal water to complement the morning and evening light that shines through it from east and west.

Water by Pippa Blackall, 2001 Fire by Pippa Blackall, 2001 Water (detail) by Pippa Blackall, 2001 Fire (detail) by Pippa Blackall (2001)
Fire (detail) by Pippa Blackall (2001) Water (detail) by Pippa Blackall (2001) Water (detail) by Pippa Blackall (2001)

You step inside to a wide, light, squarish nave. There is no north aisle, but the south aisle is as wide as the nave itself. Everything is well cared for and beautifully presented.
 The square Norman font has traceried panels which may be recut. They are echoed in the screen to the tower. Most of the glass is by William Aikman, but the Blessed Virgin and Child glass is by Christopher Powell I think.

Yelverton's great treasure is the dado of the former rood screen. It has twelve panels which depict, unusually, angels. The panels on the north side, which is partly obscured by some brutal concrete steps to the pulpit, were repainted, probably in the early 20th Century. However, those to the south have been rather more carefully restored, and they hold a banner which contains a dedicatory inscription to the donors, Thomas and Betreis Hotte. Other than this the angels hold no symbols or implements of any kind, but they all wear similar crowns. A landscape runs under their feet from one panel to another, depicting trees and hills. A 15th Century vision of Paradise, perhaps?

lauda, anima mea - early 20th Century iconoclasm iconoclams: two angels
iconoclasm: 15th Century angel iconoclasm: 15th Century angel iconoclasm: 15th Century angel
Yelverton screen (north) Yelverton screen (south)

Near to the screen is a pretty little early 16th Century brass image of Margaret Aldriche, with an inscription asking us, in English, to pray for her soul. There's another of about the same date requesting us to pray for the souls of mayster Thomas Holte and Beatrice his wyfe nearby. On the other side of the theological divide, Thomas Blenerhayset has a typically secular brass inscription of 1590, while Humphrey Rant, who sounds as if he has stepped out of the pages of Dickens a century or so later, shares a grandiloquent wall memorial with his wife Anne in the south aisle. Fortunately, the aisle is wide and light enough to contain its exuberance. More humbly, not far off is a tiny thirteenth century coffin stone, perhaps for a child, in the south-east corner.

Simon Knott, November 2020

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looking east Ascension (William Aikman) font
Disciples at the Ascension (William Aikman) The Woman at the Well (William Aikman) St Mary the Virgin (Christopher Powell?) Blessed Virgin and Child (Christopher Powell?) Disciples at the Ascension
two angels Ascension Ascension (detail)
second daughter of Humphrey Rant pray for the soule of Margaret Aldriche Humphrey Rant
Here lieth buried the bodie of Thomas Blenerhayset pray for the souls of mayster Thomas Holte and Beatrice his wyfe

 

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