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

St Peter, Cringleford, Norwich

Cringleford

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St Peter, Cringleford, Norwich

Heading south-west out of Norwich, you come to the pleasant old village of Cringleford, now part of the urban area and within the southern bypass, but by the slip of a bureaucrat's pen still outside the city boundary. It was once a much busier place, because the street was once the the main road from London to Norwich. What a welcome sight this little church must have been in centuries gone by for people who had made that long journey! I wonder how many medieval merchants and travellers had stopped off at St Peter to offer a prayer of thanks. There are still old houses around the church, giving this part of Cringleford a villagey feel, especially now that the traffic has gone.
If you approach the church from the east, an intriguing building unfolds before you. You can see straight away that this is an old survival, early Norman at the latest. The chancel with its double-splayed north window is likely one of the earliest in East Anglia. Later windows have been put through, and a filled-in archway behind a 19th Century buttress by the north porch suggests that once there might have been a chapel here. Perhaps it was for those grateful new arrivals from the London road.

The tower is later, mid to late 14th Century, and there is a south aisle of the 1890s. The aisle creates a squareness in the nave, as if the chancel was off at one corner. The arcade appears to be late medieval, and Pevsner suggests that this new aisle replaced an older one. There is coloured glass in most of the windows, and some in the upper lights of one window is 15th Century, partly composite, but there is a good figure of an Old Testament prophet in a hooded cowl, and two clerics, one with an angels head. At his feet are barleycorns, showing that this glass comes from one of the Conesford workshops a couple of miles further into town.

Lavers & Westlake provided glass for the 1898 restoration, but there was a further and more dramatic scheme of glass installed in the early 1920s depicting faux-medieval figures of St Giles and Sir Adam de Berford, owner of the manor of Cringleford. This, and the figure of St Andrew, look to be the work of Herbert Bryans who had once worked for Kempe & Co, although his work outshines their typical style. In fact it is possible to make the contrast here at Cringleford, for Kempe & Co were here in the late 1920s with glass of Christ summoning the Disciples and of the Crucifixion.

The font is late, with the foliage patterns typical of the early 16th Century, and it may well be contemporary with the tower. Above it is something much earlier, for set in the wall is what appears to be a coffin lid with a pattern of late Saxon interlace. It does look rather as if it might open downwards like an ironing board.

Simon Knott, August 2021

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font (2007) looking east looking west
St George (Herbert Bryans, 1920) St Giles and Sir Adam de Berford (Herbert Bryans, 1920) St Giles and Sir Adam de Berford (Herbert Bryans, 1920) St Edward the Confessor (Herbert Bryans, 1920)
Old Testament Prophet (15th Century) Cleric (15th Century) Cleric (15th Century) Angel and St John's Eagle (fragments, composite, 15th Century) St Albert (Lavers & Westlake c1900)
four evangelists (Kempe & Co, c1927) four figures (15th Century)
Three Marys at the empty tomb Crucifixion (Kempe & Co, c1920) Christ's mission to Peter (Kempe & Co, c1927) Thrower Buckle, 1795

   
               
                 

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