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

St Botolph, Barford

Barford: stark and bleak under the February sky

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grown organically from the ground a man-made world of greys and browns Barford sentinel

    St Botolph, Barford

Fields that will be golden when summer comes are stark and bleak under the early February skies. The air is full of the sweet, damp smell of turned earth on both sides of the narrow lane that leads to, and ends at, St Botolph. Lapwings huddle impassively in the furrows, each alone. The ploughed field, the flint churchyard wall and the rendering of the church are variations on the same theme, at once a man-made world in greys and browns, and a holy place grown organically from the ground. It is a reminder that we were the land's before the land was ours.

This is a big, light church, with a feel of the country around about it; bleached colours, everything simple yet necessary, and on this day eye-wateringly cold inside. The most striking features are the two sets of triple image niches either side of the chancel arch, accentuating the wide nave. Beside those on the north side the roodloft stairway runs up into the window embrasure, and the huge George II royal arms hangs dourly on the wall beside it.

The font has pretty yet anonymous tracery patterns; in a more elaborate space it would not stand out, but here it becomes the focus for the nave, just as the busy Gospel scenes in the 19th century east window dominate the simple sanctuary. They depict Christ blessing the children, The last Supper, and in the centre the Acension. It is really very good, but I have no idea who the artist was.

  positive organ

The chancel's low-side window has gone, but its shelf survives like that at neighbouring Wramplingham. On the other side of the chancel is a jaunty organ with the keyboard on the side. Also of interest is the 1902 memorial to Frances Stone, carved by her husband in an idiosyncratic style. I wondered if he had also been responsible for the marquetry of the reredos, which must be contemporary. Many churches have details of interest like these, and Barford has lots of them; but it was too cold to stay inside for long.

Back outside in the relative warmth, I picked my way carefully into the ploughed field to get the shot at the top of this page. Behind me, I heard a flurry and the beating of air as hundreds of lapwings took flight.

Simon Knott, February 2006

   

looking east font north side: rood loft stair, royal arms and niches screen
south side: niches George II royal arms Frances Stone super east window
sanctuary jaunty organ


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