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

All Saints, East Winch

East Winch

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south porch door bar in slot

    All Saints, East Winch
St Etheldreda with Ely Cathedral   And so, a few days after visiting West Winch I came to East Winch. 'Winch', or so the Oxford Dictionary of Placenames tells me, is a contraction of Win-Wich, a farmstead with meadowlands. Barely four miles separate them, but both are set on spectacularly busy roads. It is the A10 London to King's Lynn road which forms West Winch's main street, and here at East Winch it is the A47, the main road from the Midlands to Norwich and Great Yarmouth. Whatever must it be like to live in a place like East Winch? The hellish traffic is funnelled through the little village, slowed to a mere fifty miles an hour as it hurtles past the houses. If a car hits you at fifty miles an hour there is no way you are going to survive. They'd be collecting you in little pieces. I live ten minutes walk from the centre of Ipswich, but it was quite safe for my children to play out in the street. If I'd lived in East Winch I don't think I'd have dared let them out of the house.

Anyway, All Saints sits above the busy road. It's a big church, the full-blown Perpendicular of the end of the 14th Century and the start of the next. The sanctus bell turret was happily restored to it by the Victorians, and that great tower has a stair turret runing all the way up it to buttress it at the south-west corner. All in all, the effect from a distance is something like a castle, solid and permanent. This idea of a fortress may be reinforced by the fact that the draw-bar still sits in its slot in the south doorway, but in fact the church is open every Saturday, as the nice lady who'd just opened up was pleased to tell me, and there's a keyholder notice for other times. And as it happened, she was from Ipswich too.

The grandness of the church may be explained by the fact that East Winch was the home parish of the Howards, the Dukes of Norfolk, and their memorials were in a chapel at the east end of the south aisle. This had fallen into decay by the 18th Century, and in 1875 a big restoration of the church by George Gilbert Scott replaced it somewhat prosaically with an organ chamber.

The first impression on stepping inside is of a slightly faded grandeur. The font panels bear the shields of the Howards, a reminder of past glories. The arcades pace majestically eastwards towards the long chancel, the aisles filled with mottled light from coloured and clear glass. Ninian Comper's font cover from the eve of the First World War sets the tone, speaking of that period of triumphalism in the Church of England when anything must have seemed possible. Turning east, the view is inexorably drawn to the great five-light window in the chancel, the wholly excellent 1876 work of Clayton & Bell, the workshop at its very best. Christ the Good Shepherd, always a difficult subject, is flanked by the parable of the Good Samaritan on one side and the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins on the other. It is original and innovative work, finely drawn.

Good Samaritan Good Shepherd flanked by parables of the Good Samaritan and the Wise & Foolish Virgins Christ the Good Shepherd
two foolish virgins three foolish virgins four wise virgins
Priest and Levite ignore the robbed man Good Samaritan wise virgins foolish virgins

Less happy, perhaps, is Ward & Hughes 1901 glass of the risen Christ flanked by two angels, but it is interesting as an example of something that happened around the turn of the Century and continued until the First World War. This was that, again and again, angels became effeminate and then actually female. Gone were the manly figures of the earlier Victorian period, and it was not until the 1920s that angels became masculine, strong and fearsome again. This tendency is observable across all the major workshops of the period. I don't know why it happened. I expect the angels here provided something of a distraction to the repressed Edwardian male during the Sunday sermon.

There are two very good 13th Century coffin lids at the east end of the north aisle. One is deeply cut with a floriated cross, roses and what appear to be an axe and a set square. The other has two omega symbols in relief, back to back.

The Howard memorials were lost centuries ago, but it is worth squeezing behind the organ to see something else. Beyond the simple brass plaque that notes the site of the Howard graves, and partly hidden by a fuse box, is a memorial to William Barnes, who died in 1657. It tells us that he did for many years serve his king and country with great prudence and fidelity in ye office of justice of the peace, till at length, such was ye iniquity of ye times that loyalty was esteemed a crime, when noe allurements or threats from him who usurped ye highest power could seduce him from his constant adhearance to his abandoned prince and the persecuted Church of England. He retired to a private life, devoting himself wholly to the service of God and religion, and peaceably departed hence in 1657, in the 77th year of his age, expecting a joyful resurrection. I assume it was made after the Restoration, but I wonder how it ended up at the back of the 1875 organ chamber?

Lady Harrod enjoyed pointing out in The Shell Guide to Norfolk that the Lord of the Manor here was her good friend the cartoonist and wit Sir Osbert Lancaster. He is buried at West Winch.

  effeminate angel (Ward & Hughes, 1901)

Simon Knott, August 2016

looking east looking west font
font lid by Ninian Comper effeminate angel (Ward & Hughes, 1901) effeminate Christ (Ward & Hughes, 1901) effeminate angel (Ward & Hughes, 1901)
Gideon St Martin cuts his cloak for a beggar St Edmund and St Etheldreda Gideon, St George and St Martin Presentation in the Temple I am the Way, Truth and Life
smirking angel Edward Barnes three Kent infants coffin lids
The Norfolk Regiment St George St Martin
the sacrifice of the righteous is acceptable


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