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

St Andrew, Brinton

    St Andrew, Brinton
  Rather a pretty church, rather a pretty village. On this day in late spring, the church took a little finding, even though it is right beside the village crossroads. The trees were green and abundant, an effective screen, but one which made photographing the outside a little awkward.

The church is an odd shape, appearing truncated but with a large north transept. This is because the chancel was demolished during the long centuries when sacramental usage fell out of favour, which is a pity, because otherwise we might have a church with considerable evidence of its 16th century life. St Andrew appears to have been extensively refurbished right on the eve of the Reformation. A bequest to the roofs in the late 1520s seems to have sparked an enthusiasm for benches as well.

The 19th century restoration was, I'm afraid, by Frederick Preedy, hence the rather severe patina to the exterior. But the interior is better, I think. Preedy kept the 16th century benches, which include on their ends a burning barrel, or tun. This is obviously intended as a rebus on the parish name - any English person before the 19th century would have understood the word 'Brinton' to suggest 'burnt town'. In fact, this rebus is a pun, since the name actually means the farmstead of Brina's people. Other bench ends feature figures who appear to be engaged in secular activities with tools, or perhaps farm implements.

The 19th and 20th century glass is very good indeed, and there is much of it. I very much like the four evangelistic symbols set in the south of the nave. Each one has Holy Holy Holy around it in a different language: English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. AL Moore, who was also busy next door at Briningham, gives us his excellent Christ the Healer, which I found almost impossible to photograph in the failing light - contributions gratefully received. The upper light glass is also good of its kind, very much in the 20th century spiritual tradition. The east window glass by Meyer & co depicts the Adoration of the Magi. It would be lost in most settings, but in this simple 18th century rectangular window in the place of the old chancel arch it is most effective.

At the west end of the nave is an uncovered wall text dating from the Elizabethan period, early evidence of the building's protestant life. These things are fairly common, but this must be one of the best preserved. Curious to think it came less than half a century after the roof angels which would have offended the protestant reformers so much.

Simon Knott, July 2006



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