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

St John, Beachamwell

Beachamwell St John: not long for this world

Read the captions by hovering over the images, and click on them to see them enlarged.
the ruins of the church of a tiny parish looking west defiant Suffolk

    St John, Beachamwell
tower   The remains of St John are more substantial than those of All Saints, a mile or so off, and so it is interesting to discover that this church fell into redundancy many years before All Saints did. When Catholic England came to an end, and the Anglicans inherited more churches than they possibly knew what to do with, it was inevitable in this area of tiny parishes that many of the churches would no longer be needed. Tiny parishes, probably because this part of England was relatively heavily populated in Saxon times, and the manors were necessarily small. Each had its own church, and, before the 16th century, congregational worship was fairly low down on the list of priorities for a parish church. There was no need to count bums on seats, but the Reformation put an end to all that.

There is an intriguing vignette in the work of the early 18th century antiquarian Blomefield. He came this way, and found that the ruins of St John had been converted into cottages.

Today, all that survives is the tower, and that is not long for this world. While we wait for it to fall, the sheep enjoy it as a shelter. One of them, a defiant black-faced Suffolk I was pleased to note, stood its ground in the base of the tower while Peter and I took our photographs. The ruin belongs to them now, and there's no going back.


Simon Knott, July 2006

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