East Lexham Great Dunham Houghton on the Hill Newton by Castle Acre
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St Michael, Broome
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At places like Broome, I am always struck that our parish churches are, despite their medieval origins, essentially 19th century artifacts, and tell us more about our Victorian ancestors than they do about those from the 14th and 15th centuries. The Victorian shadow is cast long over Broome, and it is hard to think that, if our 19th century forbears could return today, that they would find anything outside of their understanding.
There's a wonderful collection of bones and skulls about a timer on a ledger stone in the chancel, but the biggest mystery is the series of filled-in arches in the chancel walls. One was the entrance to the roodloft, but the others must have been into chancel aisles or chapels - all gone now.
There are two medieval roundels in the south nave wall, and on this murky day it took DD's technology to decipher them - two angels, one holding a shield of chalices, the other a shield of instruments of the passion.
There is one thing that I found puzzling. As DD finished off inside, I wandered around the graveyard in the half light. One the northern edge, there was a sharp drop into a wide passage below. It appeared to be a railway cutting; in the 1960s, Norfolk had hundreds of miles of line stripped away like varicose veins. The Victorians would shake their heads in wonder, in incomprehension: what on earth could be better than railways for transporting goods and people? And yet, as DD pointed out, the OS maps of this area show that Broome station was a mile or so to the south, on the Beccles to Bungay line. No line ran here, at least not in the 20th century. So what did I see?
Arthur Mee was very impressed by the war memorial, which once stood proud in the graveyard but now leans up against the tower. It seemed to fit in with the mood of the place; a twilight in more than one sense, not sad exactly, but something surviving, only just.
Simon Knott, January 2005
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