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

St Maurice, Briningham

Briningham: the grave St Maurice

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slightly ramshackle east end northside

    St Maurice, Briningham
more money than taste   St Maurice is a slightly ramshackle yet, in its own way, memorable church in one of the small, remote villages to the south of Holt. Briningham itself is an interesting example of the development of early English placenames. The neighbouring village is called Brinton, and Briningham means the homestead of the people of Brina. One day in perhaps the seventh century, some people from Brinton ('Brina's farm') set off to found a settlement of their own here.

Not much remains of those days, of course, and the pagan people of Brina would have had no doubt that the large, ugly 19th century memorial to the east of the church was some kind of totem, or even a god. it stands some 12 feet high, and commemorates a local worthy with more money than taste or sense.

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

   

blocked lowside window looking west looking east south side of nave going down
St Maurice St Cecilia and St Agnes St Agnes Resurrection and Ascension Blessed Virgin 


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