home I index I latest I glossary I introductions I e-mail I about this site

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

St Mary, Barton Bendish

Barton Bendish St Mary

Barton Bendish St Mary west doorway

Follow these journeys as they happen at Last Of England Twitter.

    St Mary, Barton Bendish

This little jewel of a church sits beside Barton Hall on the edge of the village. It has been redundant since 1973, and is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. In common with several villages around here, Barton Bendish had more than one parish church. One of them, All Saints, was demolished in the 18th Century while the other, St Andrew, is now the parish church. St Mary is a small, thatched building, the chancel slightly larger than the nave which was truncated by the collapse of the tower in the early 18th century. If it wasn't for the bellcote and the 14th century window tracery you might easily mistake this for two ramshackle cottages in a wild garden.

You enter from the west, and here is one of the finest Norman doorways in west 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. It came from All Saints, where it was the south doorway. It was brought here to help repair the nave of St Mary after the collapse of the tower. The interior is entirely rustic. 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.

The floors are brick, the roof ceilured. The box pews have simple benches inside them. The end of one is dated 1637 and the sanctuary contains a communion table dated 1633. It is ornately carved in the approved Laudian manner. 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? But the most unusual thing here is a wall painting on the south side of the nave. It depicts a wheel of fortune, one of only three such survivals in East Anglia.

Simon Knott, June 2021

Follow these journeys as they happen at Last Of England Twitter.

   

looking east afternoon light
looking west wheel of fortune aumbry (19th Century) north chancel doorway
holy table (EL 1633) 1633

   
               
                 

The Churches of East Anglia websites are non-profit-making, in fact they are run at a considerable loss. But if you enjoy using them and find them useful, a small contribution towards the cost of web space, train fares and the like would be most gratefully received. You can donate via either Ko-fi or Paypal.

                   
                     
                         

donate via Kofi

 

home I index I latest I introductions I e-mail I about this site I glossary
Norwich I ruined churches I desktop backgrounds I round tower churches
links I small print I www.simonknott.co.uk I www.suffolkchurches.co.uk

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