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St Peter and St Paul, Bergh Apton
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and St Paul, Bergh Apton
The nave seems of inconsequence beside the chancel, which has been augmented here by large, rebuilt transepts. The tower is spectacular, easily as tall as the church is long. A tension is created by the large transept windows and the tower appearing to squeeze the nave between them.
The north side of the church is close to the road, but the south side of the graveyard is wide and open, making a whole perspective of the building possible. The tall porch and a large tree make the nave disappear almost completely.
As with the rest of this benefice, St Peter and St Paul is open and welcoming to visitors. You step inside, and the narrowness of the nave is accentuated by the way the transepts open out. A large west gallery completes the sense of a contained space. Below it is Bergh Apton's great treasure, an intriguing font with angels and evangelistic symbols. The subjects are typically East Anglian, but the carvings are unlike any others I have seen, and the angel on the south-east panel must surely be intended as St Michael.
There's some good 19th century glass, including a pleasingly busy crucifixion scene, and some worried looking sheep who might easily be in the meadow across the lane from the church. The donkey in the Good Samaritan panel looks rather more patient.
Although this building is heavily restored and overwhelmingly Victorian in character, it is still a lovely, rural church in a pretty setting, so typical of Norfolk. And, when you go inside, there is a note in the porch to remind you that these south-east Norfolk parishes are among the most welcoming in England:
Everytime I pass a church
I couldn't help thinking that such a sentiment would be beyond the comprehension of the handful of Norfolk parishes that lock pilgrims and strangers out of their churches.
Simon Knott, March 2006
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