home I index I latest I glossary I introductions I e-mail I about this site
St Andrew, Deopham
the captions by hovering over the images, and click on them to
see them enlarged.
The great tower of St Andrew faces across the valley to the even more imposing tower of Hingham a couple of miles off. Though clearly a work of the Perpendicular period, there is a jauntiness, dare I say a friendliness, about the Deopham tower that belies the austerity of almost exactly contemporary work like Cawston. Does this mean that the assumed date of 1450 is a wrong one? Pevsner thought not, imagining rather that the modernising enthusiasms of late medieval architects cut no ice with the masons, who preferred to stick with the detailing of a century earlier.
Deopham, pronounced Dee-ph'm, is a scattered parish in the deceptively remote hills to the south-west of Norwich. The great church is visible from miles around. So often, a grand exterior of this kind conceals a neutered, urban, unatmospheric interior. The Victorians so often failed to resist the temptation to make grand country churches into town ones. But that is not the case here at all, and there is a nice contrast between the splendour of the exterior and the homely interior. Peter Stephens describes it as rough and ready, and that is exactly right.
It is an interior that generations of ordinary people have made their own. This is most obvious in the furnishings, the rows of locally carved late 17th century benches with their curious pagoda-like motif on the bench ends. There are a couple of stabs at grandeur, with solid oak choir pews crowned by elaborately carved poppyheads depicting scenes with figures.
The soaring tower arch echoes the south doorway, and above it in the nave there is a bit of a puzzle. There is a lovely late medieval tie-beam roof - but on the south side of the acade only there is a row of stone corbels doing nothing, about two metres below the wooden angel corbels of the roof. What are they there for? Did they support the roof before the clerestory was added? Or was there a more ambitious plan for a double hammerbeam roof that was later abandoned for the cheaper option of the tie beams? Whatever, it is odd that they are only on the south side.
The overall feeling is of a light, open, rural space which hasn't changed a great deal in the last couple of centuries. There are a few medieval survivals - the screen must have stretched across the church; part of the dado is in the south aisle, screening a chapel. There is a scattering of medieval glass at the east end of the north aisle, mainly canopy work. A pretty pisicina survives in the south wall of the sanctuary.
Simon Knott, January 2006
Amazon commission helps cover the running costs of this site.
home I index I latest I introductions I e-mail I about this site I glossary
links I small print I www.simonknott.co.uk I www.suffolkchurches.co.uk
ruined churches I desktop backgrounds I round tower churches