Thursday, 9 August 2018

Little Ouse, Cambridgeshire

Having declared Cambridgeshire finished at Coates I then found I'd overlooked Little Ouse - so who knows if I've got them all. For the record St John the Evangelist, redundant and now a private dwelling, is No. 227. Also for the record I visited in the morning and could, for obvious reasons, only photograph from one spot so the picture is crap.

Plainly the reason I missed it was that neither Pevsner nor Mee mention it, so the best I can do is point you to the Cambridgeshire Churches entry and for a better picture here. I was  hoping for a Historic England or BHO listing but it appears to have been entirely forgotten or ignored.

St John the Evangelist

Ryston, Norfolk

To these Essex, Hertfordshire and mostly south East Anglian trained sensibilities the use of carstone is becoming increasingly attractive, it still looks odd but in a nice way. St Michael, locked, no keyholder listed, however is bizarre - the setting is idyllic and the hideous, but strangely alluring, tower only adds to the sense of other worldliness. I know I shouldn't, but I really liked it. Simon Knott's Norfolk Churches entry shares some 2010 [AD not number of photos] internals by John Salmon which, to me, shows that it's almost criminal to deny us entry.

As an aside, it took me two goes to find it as the postcode cited by a achurchnearyou is wildly inaccurate and all others I found on the web were also off mark, so if you put PE38 0DR [achurchnearyou offering] in your satnav and are coming up the A10 from the south, ignore the two left hand turns to Denver and take the next right [signposted to Ryston] and drive for about 150 yards - the church is on your right in woods. If coming from the north cross the roundabout and take the first left.

ST MICHAEL. Of carstone. The W tower alas is of 1858, but the tower arch is Norman. Early C14 S doorway. Straight-headed Perp nave windows. In the chancel two small low-side windows and a big three-light Dec window with flowing tracery. Piscina with a little bit of pretty tracery. - MONUMENTS. Lady Pratt, widow of Sir Roger Pratt d. 1706. Semi-reclining figure in contemporary dress; no back architecture. - Pleasance Pratt d. 1807. By John Bacon jun., with charming groups of small figures by and below an urn.

St Michael (3)

RYSTON. There is an oak here more important than the beautiful park to which it belongs, for it is Kett’s Oak, one of several associated with the ill-fated rising of the peasants under the tanner of Wymondham which was so cruelly crushed in 1549. Other such oaks have been called Oaks of the Reformation, because Kett’s followers were believed to have met under them. Ryston’s Oak, still vigorous, is authentic.

The hall was built in the 17th century by Sir Roger Pratt, and is still the home of this family, whose many generations here extend beyond the time of the Reformation. The same Sir Roger, sleeping in the chancel, gave the nave of the church a tiled roof for its thatch. Their arms and crest (a little man in red and gold) are on the marble tomb where Lady Pratt, with curled locks, lies in an embroidered nightdress.

The church is by the wayside across the park from the Oak. Great trees keep it company, and a splendid cedar overtops the brick saddleback tower which, though made new after being long in ruins, has still its low Norman arch and three Norman windows. Old doors open to the simple candle-lit interior, and black and white roofs look down on the nave and chancel, the nave roof modern and the chancel’s 15th century. There are two low windows, a pretty corner piscina, an aumbry with finely carved doors, and a font which may be 16th century.

West Dereham, Norfolk

St Andrew, open, couldn't fail to please with its carstone and octagonal brick topped round tower. That, frankly, is enough for me but added to the tower is a lovely setting and a crisp bright interior. Admittedly, apart from the slightly preposterous Edmund Soames monument and some glass [because of strong sunlight impossible to do justice to], there's little of interest internally but despite this it was my church of the day.

ST ANDREW. Round tower of big carstone blocks. The tower is of exceptional circumference (inside I7 ft 6 in.). Remains of the wide Norman arch towards the nave. Very pretty octagonal brick top with brick bell-openings and a frieze of little round arches. The S doorway to the nave is of c. 1200 or a little later. Pointed arch with many mouldings and one order of shafts. The rest mostly Perp. The nave windows with stepped transoms, the chancel windows with two-centred arches. C17 S porch gable. - FONT. Octagonal, Perp, with quatrefoils. - PULPIT. Elizabethan or Jacobean, with the usual stubby blank arches. - COMMUNION RAIL. Late C17, three-sided, with twisted balusters. - BIER. Dated 1683, but still in pre-classical forms. - STAINED GLASS. Original fragments in the E and one nave S window. - MONUMENTS. Robert Dereham d. 1612 and his father. Tablet without figures. - Sir Thomas Dereham d. 1722. Tablet of variously coloured stone with coat of arms against a leaf background. Very decorative, though somewhat conservative. - Col. Edmund Soames d. 1706. Signed by Robert Singleton of Bury St Edmunds. Standing white figure in armour against classical architectural background of white, grey, and pink marble. Mr Gunnis rightly calls it 'an exciting and remarkable work'.

St Andrew (2)

Tower octagon

Edmund Soames 1706 (3)

WEST DEREHAM. On Abbey Farm are traces of the abbey founded here late in the 12th century by Hubert Walter, who was born in the village. He went to Palestine with Richard Lionheart, who made him Archbishop of Canterbury, and he proved himself a strong prelate who could hold King John in check.

The church of the abbey is now a storehouse and a barn, but such menial offices cannot rob it of its dignity or its standing as a footnote to history. The archbishop lies in Canterbury, and it was long after his day that Thomas Tusser of Essex, the literary farmer who wrote Five Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie, came to live at Abbey Farm and put some of his points into practice. Norman statesman and 16th-century husbandman meet here on common ground.

At the break-up of the monasteries the abbey and its lands were granted to the old family of Dereham, one of whom was Francis Dereham, kinsman of Queen Katherine Howard and one of Henry the Eighth’s victims. Memorials to Robert Dereham of 1612 and Thomas of 1723 are in the church, which stands on the little hill beyond the cottages and once had a companion church in the same churchyard. Another memorial is a marble figure in armour, keeping green the memory of Colonel Edmund Soame who fought in Ireland for William of Orange. The Normans built the sturdy round tower, which the 15th century crowned with an octagonal belfry of arcaded brick. The south doorway is 13th century; the 15th-century nave and chancel have been restored.

Fragments of old glass dotted about the east window, and a jumble of others in the nave, are said to have come from the abbey. The roodstairs and doorways are still here, with the medieval font and the Jacobean pulpit.

As old Thomas Tusser spent here some of the years when he was writing his quaint books for tillers of the soil, the plough being his music, as he said, we may here remind ourselves of the quaint epitaph he wrote for himself:

Here Thomas Tusser, clad in earth, doth lie,
Who sometime made the Points of Husbandry:
By him, then, learn thou may’st, here learn we must,
When all is done, we sleep, and turn to dust:
And yet through Christ to heaven we hope to go,
Who reads his books shall find his faith was so.

Wereham, Norfolk

St Margaret of Antioch was, bafflingly, locked, no keyholder listed. I'm fairly sure I was unlucky to find it so mid morning on a Friday in August, although a Flickr search returns suspiciously few interiors, so perhaps it is generally kept locked - who knows? Here's a link to Gary Troughton's 2012 Flick album.

ST MARGARET. In the W wall of the nave remains of a wide Norman arch, later narrowed. This seems to have been done about 1300, and at that time the W tower was built, see its W doorway. The upper parts are of brick and Early Tudor. The chancel is much renewed, but may have been E. E. The chancel arch, though of unusual mouldings, makes this possible. Equally unusual the details of the arcades. Are bases and capitals badly re-tooled? The quatrefoil piers with deep continuous hollows between the foils could be of the C13. The arches are nearly round and thus also baffling. - MONUMENTS. John Heaton, 1779. With a bust at the top of a tablet. - Several minor tablets.

St Margaret of Antioch (3)

Even more baffling - another one Mee missed.

Wretton, Norfolk

All Saints, open, is one of those churches that less than a week after visiting I had no recollection of it until I saw the photo of the notice on the door announcing that the church "is open for prayer". This may seem harsh but the truth is that most churches are, without photographic stimuli, mostly forgettable unless you are intimately familiar with them; this is why Simon Jenkins can select a thousand "best churches" and also why his choices are contentious - such a list is always going to be subjective and therefore open to debate. Some churches, however, are so innocuous, and that is not meant to be in any way dismissive or offensive - I'm perfectly aware that a church I find innocuous is just as likely to be much loved by it's congregation or admired by other visitors - that I've forgotten them by the time I've reached the next one. I imagine part of it is that having visited close to 1500 churches not all are going to make a lasting impression - anyway All Saints is one such.

Having said that it's a pleasing setting and internally pleasantly, if previously over restored, shabby but contains little of lasting interest.

ALL SAINTS. A small church with a carstone chancel. The two nave doorways might be Norman, though not in an original state. The W tower perhaps of the C13, the S arcade of four bays with triple-chamfered arches of c.1300. In the chancel one Dec window. The other windows Perp with four-centred or straight heads. - SCREEN. With one-light divisions and pretty, minor tracery. - PULPIT. C18, with carved top cornice. - BENCHES. Dated 1627; with plain, minimum poppy-heads.

All Saints (3)


I've grown accustomed to Mee's omissions but I'm surprised he missed Wretton.

Stoke Ferry, Norfolk

All Saints, redundant, is a not very good Victorian rebuild.

ALL SAINTS. Nave and chancel and bellcote. The chancel was taken down in the C17, the tower fell in the C18. The rest nearly rebuilt in 1848 by Donthome. The chancel arch could be Perp. - FONT. Octagonal, Perp, with Flamboyant tracery patterns.

All Saints (2) 

All Saints (1)

Another one Mee missed.

Whittington, Norfolk

Christ Church, locked, is a poor example of a Victorian build. I had a brief hope that it was open when the outer west doors opened but it was only to allow access to a defibrillator. I very much doubt there's any interest here.

CHRIST CHURCH. 1874-5 by R. M. Phipson (GR).

Christchurch (3)

Mee didn't bother.