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St Maurice, Briningham
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St Maurice is one of Norfolk's twenty-or-so churches with a tower on the south side. They are more common in Suffolk than in Norfolk. Beside it is a window so vast that for a moment you might take it for a displaced east window. It was probably placed here in the years immediately before the Black Death, and suggests that someone had big plans for this church which were cruelly snuffed out.
Inside, the nave is a strange place. It is cleared at the west end apart from the font, but there is a general air of clutter and untidiness. The benches appear the work of a local carpenter, the floors are brick, and it is rustic and even charming. However, your eyes are automatically drawn to one of the strangest chancel arches in Norfolk. The whole of the arch is blocked off with hardboard,apart from a gap of about six feet at the bottom. The whole thing is painted white, and it is unnerving to say the least. It looks as if shutters might come down at any moment.
The chancel that you step into is much livelier than the nave, with splashes of colour in the windows and kneelers. High up on the east wall in two large niches are vast statues of St Maurice and the Blessed Virgin. They look most out of place, and not a little uncomfortable, as if they would rather be back home in France or somewhere. The late 19th and early 20th century glass by AL Moore is good, particularly the beautifully coloured and simple Resurrection and Ascension. Was William Wailes responsible for St Cecilia and St Agnes? They're good, too.
Simon Knott, July 2006
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