home I index I latest I glossary I introductions I e-mail I about this site

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

St Mary, Cranworth

Cranworth

Cranworth Cranworth

Follow these journeys as they happen at Last Of England Twitter.

   

St Mary, Cranworth

St Mary sits in the middle of this village to the north-west of Hingham. If you came here from the parish's other church at Southburgh, as we did, the first thing that would strike you is that they are both in the Decorated style with spires on their towers, but Southburgh is a Victorian imitation, while Cranworth is splendid, the real thing.

Perhaps this one was the inspiration for the other. Whatever, St Mary is pretty much entirely the work of the early 14th Century, a survival of Norfolk before the Black Death wiped out half the population and made us all more serious. It would take centuries for the population to return to the same level, and then after about 1850 it would fall away inexorably again.

You step into what is an overwhelmingly 19th Century interior, heavy Victorian furnishings brooding sulkily, the nave hemmed in by the imposing memorials flanking the north and south walls in the narrow aisles. Mostly they are to the Gurdons, who lived at Letton Hall. This was their church. The most interesting one perhaps is the one in the north-east corner which is emblazoned with their shields, for it remembers a Gurdon who led a regiment at the Battle of Naseby. Directly opposite, above the old entrance to the rood loft stairs, is the memorial to Sir William Cooke, who died in 1698. The winged skull at the base must have had a sobering effect on parishioners over the years.

The font is a big, serious, uncut affair of the 14th century. I did wonder if perhaps it had been placed in situ at the time the church was built, and then the Black Death intervened before it could be carved. The organ fills the tower arch, looking stately and grand. All in all, the nave feels a fairly serious place. Stepping through the modern screen into the chancel, there is some relief, for the tracery of the east window is bubbly and light, and that altar below it has curious marquetry work in canopies, which is rather good. Does it date from the 1890s? Or is it later, Art Nouveau becoming Art Deco? Here at last was something to ponder, in contrast to the stone cold Gurdon certainties of the nave and aisles.

Simon Knott, November 2020

Follow these journeys as they happen at Last Of England Twitter.

   

looking east sanctuary looking west
two cherubs, a winged skull and trumpets Cranworth Cranworth two draped skulls
doleful cherub winged skull two draped skulls
harmonium shortly after the birth of a daughter

   
               
                 

The Churches of East Anglia websites are non-profit-making, in fact they are run at a considerable loss. But if you enjoy using them and find them useful, a small contribution towards the cost of web space, train fares and the like would be most gratefully received. You can donate via either Ko-fi or Paypal.

                   
                     
                         

donate via Kofi

 

home I index I latest I introductions I e-mail I about this site I glossary
Norwich I ruined churches I desktop backgrounds I round tower churches
links I small print I www.simonknott.co.uk I www.suffolkchurches.co.uk

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