Monday, 5 September 2011

Norton, Hertfordshire

St Nicholas was locked with no sign of a keyholder - I suspect due to its proximity to Letchworth.

ST NICHOLAS. A small church of no architectural interest, seemingly Perp but with a Norman chancel arch on the plainest imposts and an outer doorway of the S porch which looks like a Late Georgian doorcase. - FONT. Early C14, octagonal, with tracery and quatrefoil decoration. - PULPIT. C17, with canopy and elementary geometrical patterns on the panels. - BENCHES. Simple C15 shapes with little decorative buttresses. - PLATE. Early Elizabethan Chalice. 

St Nicholas (2)

Unknown arms

Norton. The Garden City of Letchworth has linked itself with Norman days by appropriating this bit of Old England, adding Norton’s common to its own more prim avenues and gardens. Yet it has left the village its integrity and its charming church, which has that delightful quality of age which we call homely.

It is simplicity itself worn red tiles pave the floor, the rough uneven walls are whitewashed, the roof is like a barn, and some of the benches are a little weary after 400 years and more. The plain chancel arch is of soft chalk, yet it has survived from Norman days; it has a mysterious opening over it looking into the 19th-century chancel. Parts of the nave walls are also Norman. The tower is 15th century and has two ancient bells. The canopied pulpit is Jacobean. There is a chalice made in 1570, and a service book which has been busy changing the names of the royal family since 1793. Stupid no-bodies from Stuart times to our own day have scrawled their initials on the 700-year—old font, which has a quaintly panelled stem. On one wall is a tablet to three little sisters called Cole, one of whom was born in September 1752 and died in February of the same year, a curious effect of the change in the calendar.

One of the vicars here (G. H. Pierson) has the astonishing record of 68 years. He would know two gipsies who lie in the churchyard, Cornelius and Polly Smith, who died here from smallpox. All the world knows their famous son Gipsy Smith, one of the most remarkable evangelists of our time.


No comments:

Post a Comment