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, East Carleton

East Carleton

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

   

St Mary, East Carleton

East Carleton is a straggle of houses among fields and copses on the road to nowhere, as if a narrow skein of Norwich suburbia had separated itself to drift remotely along the edge of the Ketteringham Hall estate some eight miles from the City Hall. Its church of St Mary is neat and trim in its small churchyard. As at neighbouring Bracon Ash this is at heart an Early English building with some late medieval remodelling, but what you see today is overwhelmingly the work of a decent 19th Century restoration, the nave and chancel redone in the 1880s and the tower rebuilt in the 1890s. It is a good example of what could be done on a small scale by a rural parish where the pennies had to be counted.

The porch protects the south doorway, which Pevsner noted was the single unrestored feature of the church. The church seems to be open every day, and you step into an intimate space, a pleasant and well-kept little church. At the west end, the brickwork in the top of the tower arch is exposed, and is likely of the 16th Century, suggesting a late rebuilding in this rural backwater. The font is a narrow, elegant 15th Century piece, looking quite at home in the sea of 19th Century tiling in which are also reset some ledger stones of the late 17th and early 18th Centuries. They are inscribed with skulls, and one of them reminds us that Hodie Mihi Cras Tibi, today this is mine, but tomorrow it will be yours.

The altar rails which front the small sanctuary are sweetly decorated with flowers in an Art Nouveau style. There is a small amount of coloured glass, and you feel that any more would overwhelm this little building. The most interesting panel is a roundel in the east window which contains a medieval head, perhaps 14th Century and probably of Christ. A modern roundel beside it depicts the monogram AM with a sword, and presumably both were set at the same time, perhaps in the early 20th Century which also brought Powell & Son's Angel of Charity. He holds one child, whilst the elder child at his feet holds a cross and represents Faith. The small glass of Mary at the feet of Christ at Bethany is a bit earlier, and I think it may be by Heaton, Butler & Bayne.

As you leave the church, you might notice a low ivy-covered wall to the east of the church. This is all that is left of the second East Carleton church of St Peter, and Pevsner thought it would have been the lower part of the western side of the tower. Having seen it without ivy about fifteen years ago I wondered if it was actually the east end of the chancel, in which case the two churches were very close together. Beyond the ruin in the churchyard is an elaborate family memorial, presumably of the 19th Century, which must have had its ironwork removed during WWII. Its pillars now sinking into the soft earth, it seemed like a metaphor for the change and decay in all around, while beside it, the little church abides.

Simon Knott, September 2021

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

   

looking east sanctuary with Art Nouveau altar rails East Carleton
head (14th Century?) AM Art Nouveau altar rails
Christ at Bethany (Heaton, Butler & Bayne?, 1880s) Charity's child (Powell & Sons, 1904) Angel of Charity (Powell & Sons, 1904) Angel of Charity (Powell & Sons, 1904) Art Nouveau becomes Art Deco
Hodie Mihi, Cras Tibi (1676) Hodie Mihi, Cras Tibi (1676) Richard Watson, 1718
war memorial Nathaniel Baron Lindley of East Carleton (1921) matrix

   
               
                 

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 Paypal.

                   
                     
                             

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