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St John the Baptist, Coltishall
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the Baptist, Coltishall
Along the road to Hoveton sits the tall and rather stark church of St John the Baptist, the long lines of its continuous nave and chancel softened by its roof of thatch. Take away the late medieval tower and you can see at once that this is an ancient building, almost entirely a 13th Century rebuilding of what was a Norman, and possibly even Anglo-Saxon structure. The two round openings in the northern wall certainly look like Anglo-Saxon windows, although as Dr Pevsner notes they are curiously high. The north side of the church is close to the road, but it hides the delight of a huge, gently sloping graveyard on the south side. Here, in the sunshine of late autumn, I was intrigued to find a fairly primitively carved 18th Century column with a hand holding a heart under a shining cloud, which I took to be masonic symbolism.
For many years, this church was kept locked, but it is now open to visitors every day. You enter it, unusually in East Anglia, from the west, stepping down into a large, light interior. A south aisle, hidden from the road, creates a sense of space under the low ceiling, which might otherwise be rather oppressive. The predominantly clear glass allows the white walls and ceiling to glow.
Simon Knott, January 2009
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