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All Saints, Brandon Parva
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Saints, Brandon Parva
There is no village, and the entire parish has barely a dozen houses. But the main reason for the air of abandonment inside is that the west end has been cleared of clutter so that workmen can get to the tower arch. This is one of the most singular examples in Norfolk; trailing vines entwine around the hood mould, and the whole piece sits on two massive heads. Unfortunately, the keystone of the arch has slipped, presumably as a result of movement in the tower, and an ingenious wooden frame has been put in place to hold it up until it can be mended.
The arch is surmounted by one of those scriptural quotes so beloved of the evangelical movement in the second half of the 19th century, and there are others scattered around the church, looking rather out of place in these modern days of quiet Anglican spirituality.
The nave is dominated by the massive memorial to John Warner in the south-east corner, his bones tied up in a winding sheet at the bottom. John died in 1702, and below on the wall is a very early post-Reformation painted wall memorial to his ancestor Richard Warner, who deceased the tenth daye of Maye 1587. On the floor in front of it is a fragment of a brass inscription. It seems to be made of two separate pieces, and so is probably a palimpsest, the back of a previously reused brass. It is obviously pre-Reformation, because it asks us in Latin to pray for the soul of Christine Buck and to commend her soul to Almighty God.
The off-centre chancel (was there a south aisle once?) is dominated by a very curious east window. The upper lights of the Decorated tracery are crammed in under a flattened arch. Mortlock thought it was Victorian, but I think it must be earlier, because it isn't shoddy as much as inarticulate. It looks like a confection of the 18th century.
I had recently received an e-mail from someone saying that a church only came alive when there was a service on. I had disagreed. Our medieval churches are folk museums and touchstones to the people of the past, their lives and their liturgies, a hand reached out to our friends and family down the long generations. The modern liturgy of the Church of England is just a passing fancy, and this has been true in any age of course. To be honest, I always find services a bit of a distraction. But here at Brandon Parva I thought that this was a building that cried out for human company. Whatever our final destiny may be, I am sure that it was never intended that we should be alone.
Simon Knott, February 2006
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