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St Andrew, Eaton, Norwich
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Andrew, Eaton, Norwich
Despite being an urban church, St Andrew is welcoming to strangers and pilgrims, and is open every day, for which the parish is to be thoroughly congratulated. Facing ahead of you as you step in is the church's one great medieval survival, a late 14th century depiction of the warning against idle gossip. This subject is found several times in East Anglia, and conventionally depicts, as here, two women neglecting their rosaries, which dangle down from their hands as they kneel. Instead, they are having a chat, and what they are saying is being written down on scrolls by two enormous devils, presumably to be later used in evidence against them. This is the only surviving part of a wider scheme, originally uncovered and recorded in the 19th century, which was exposed again when the extension was built.
The extension is a good one, full of light. You step into it through the former south doorway, and so it effectively creates a second, separate church, a contrast with the contemporary extension at the medieval parish church of Kesgrave in the suburbs of Ipswich, where the entire south wall was removed and a similarly dramatic, boat-like extension added. The lights of the lower part of the south window are successively blocked, creating a dramatic backdrop to the simple altar. If this was a Catholic church, there would probably have been an attempt to make the altar more central, but here, the clean, fresh lines are thoroughly traditional. As if to set the Anglican seal, the royal arms formerly in the old church have been reset on the gallery above the south door.
Coming back from the light of the new church, the old nave and chancel seem excessively dark, and not only because of the pretty dreadful 1950s roodscreen. Some of the windows on the south side are obscured by the extension. This can't be helped, but on this early morning in late winter it certainly made the interior feel pretty gloomy.
Simon Knott, April 2007
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