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St Mary Magdalene, Beetley
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Beetley is another of those straggling, convoluted parishes to the north of Dereham. It is more populous than most, and thus it is a bit shameful that it has the only parish church around here which is kept locked without a keyholder notice, particularly as the Rectory is immediately next door. It stands away from the village, set back from the road and tower end on to the entrance to the churchyard. The reticulated west window is a clue to the age of the church, the blocked west doorway a clue to the welcome on offer. Coming around to the south side it becomes obvious that this is, indeed, a 14th Century church, and that tower top just a late medieval elaboration.
Stepping inside, the blocked arcade on the north side with its wooden y-tracery windows tells us that the aisle was demolished in the late 18th Century, a happy date, for it meant the repair was patched up elegantly, and not replaced with something Victorian and brooding. The late perpendicular font is raised on a slightly odd brick plinth. The War Memorial notes that it is to the Honour of God and in Immortal Memory of nine boys from this parish, including three members of the Buck family, who went out to the killing fields of France and beyond and never came back.
Simon Knott, August 2016
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