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

All Saints, Beachamwell

Beachamwell All Saints: slowly crumbling

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sitting on a hilltop catch it while you can a surviving lump of fallen tower

    All Saints, Beachamwell

One of four former parish churches in and around this fairly remote village, the scanty remains of All Saints sit on a hilltop to the south-west of St Mary. You can walk to them from the village green. Little survives, mostly chunks of the lower part of the tower, but enough remained in the early 18th century for the antiquarian Blomefield to think it worth a visit. Thanks to the splendid St Mary church guide, we know that he found the chancel arch intact, and a 17th century tomb chest to the Athow family of Wells Hall. After the Reformation, when All Saints fell into disuse, it seems to have been bought by the Athows, probably as a family mausoleum. But the family died out, and so in the 17th century All Saints began the long road to the almost total degradation we see today.

For many years, the ruin was a notable landmark, the dramtic west end forming an arch against the sky. In the early 20th century, the site was excavated, and some of the fruits of that dig are on display at St Mary - the font, a shield and an inscription, the last two probably from the tomb that Blomefield saw. The brass he saw has vanished.

Adrian Mitchell sent me the photograph on the right, which is copyright of the Norfolk Air Library. It shows the ruin as it was before July 1989. That month, the great west arch finally collapsed. Now, all there is here to be seen are the clumps of flint aggregate, slowly crumbling. Catch them while you can.

  the ruin from the air, pre-July 1989 (this image is copyright of Norfolk Air Library)

Simon Knott, July 2006


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