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St Mary, Barton Bendish
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You enter from the west, and here is one of the finest Norman doorways in Norfolk. This may lead you to suspect that the Nave, at least, is the original Norman church, but in fact this doorway is not from St Mary at all. Barton Bendish had a third church, All Saints, and before it was completely demolished in the 1780s, the south doorway was brought here to help repair the nave of St Mary after the collapse of the tower.
The interior is entirely rustic, absolutely stunning. There is a creamy white light, a shimmer of dust falling through the air. The only coloured glass is in the upper lights of the east window, and a small window above the west door, fairly early 19th century images of Christ blessing the children and raising Jairus's daughter.
he floors are brick, the roof ceilured. It is all very lovely. The box pews have simple benches inside them - on the end of one, it says 1637, and shows that this was a busy place on the eve of the Civil War, as does the sanctuary, which contains a communion table dated 1633. It is ornately carved in the approved Laudian manner. I don't usually mention such furnishings on this site, but this table is firmly secured, and cannot be removed. High up, on the east wall, are two carvings of angels which look as if they are 15th century. Did they come from the spandrels of a roof? Not here, I think. Equally mysterious is the entrance to the vestry on the north side of the chancel. It is very elaborate - did the framing originally come from a 15th century memorial?
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