Bexwell Fincham Stradsett

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

St Mary, Bexwell

St Mary, rugged on its velvet cushion

Read the captions by hovering over the images, and click on them to see them enlarged.
Solid carstone tower Simple north side That tower in full "I'm a celebrity, get me out of here..."
East end lancets Carstone headed lancet - wholly un-East Anglian An Australian influence?

    St Mary, Bexwell
Former gateway to Bexwell Hall   Here we are in the agro-industrial plains to the east of Downham Market, and in the otherwise workaday environs of this village are two super buildings. Hard beside the road is a barn which was obviously once a medieval building; Pevsner thinks a gateway to Bexwell Hall.

The church keyholder is opposite, and St Mary itself sits on a green velvet mound about 100 yards south of the barn. The lane goes around the mound in a wide circle, suggesting that both are ancient.

The round tower is a fine one, relatively late, perhaps 12th century, with a late medieval bell stage. Note the ring of lancets around the top of the older part of the tower. The main material is carstone, common enough in this part of Norfolk but to my eyes wholly un-East Anglian. In particular, the lancet window on the south aide of the church appears on holiday from industrial Leicestershire.

An even more foreign influence, perhaps, is the array of corks hanging inside the entrance to the porch. Assuming that the Rector is not Australian, are they a clever device for keeping birds out? Or some sort of installation art?

Inside, St Mary is a typical simply restored small rural parish church. There is a fine 16th century memorial to Henry Bexwell, with an hourglass and scythe to remind us that we, too, are mortal. Francis Bachcroft's, of a century later, is rather more distant and formal. A single head of medieval glass is set high up in a north window, and opposite a sombre memorial to the Rector's son, killed leading the assault on Gueudecourt in the last days of the Battle of the Somme.

Outside in the autumn sunlight, a mawkish statue of Christ on a memorial has become trapped by the box hedges intended to offset it. He looks as if he is struggling to escape.

Simon Knott, December 2004


Looking east Sanctuary Curiosa and Curiosa Somme memorial
Looking west Bachcroft memorial, 1698 War memorial in blocked north door Medieval fragment Henry Bexwell, 1581 14th century niche, 20th century image

Bexwell Fincham Stradsett

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