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St John the Baptist, Aylmerton
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the Baptist, Aylmerton
I was cycling from Cromer to Norwich, and one of my first goals was St John the Baptist, Aylmerton. There were just two churches left in north Norfolk that I had yet to see inside, and this was one of them. I first came here in the summer of 2005, and I was a bit disappointed to find it the only locked church of eighteen that I visited that day. There wasn't even a keyholder notice. I complained about this, as you'd expect. I received a charming e-mail message from Professor Michael Balls, who was then the churchwarden of Aylmerton (and, for your interest in passing, also the father of the then-newly elected Labour MP Edward Balls), apologising that I had found the church locked, and explaining that they had just suffered a serious and expensive act of vandalism involving the water supply to the church. Since then, the church has been opened every day, and I was pleased to know that this parish is one of several now in the care of Allan Barton, a long-time contact of mine.
You climb the steep path from the road to this neat, trim little round-towered church in its pretty village stretched along the road just to the south of Sheringham. The top part of the tower was rebuilt in the first decade of the 20th century, when the east window glass was also put in place. There were some busy restorations in the 1860s and 1870s, and the font is an unfortunate replacement of this time, and the interior has much of the feel of the Anglo-catholic sentiments of the late 19th and early 20th Century. But much that is medieval survives, including a delicate sedilia and piscina.
Simon Knott, January 2012
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