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St Andrew, Framingham Pigot
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Andrew, Framingham Pigot
Christie is a good example of the kind of energetic, beneficient squire you occasionally got in East Anglia. He was the principal land owner and employer, and there was no doubt who was in charge in the parish. Paternalistic and earnest, he rebuilt all the cottages on his estates, as well as providing a lecture room and a schoolroom. Reasoning that a rundown church was not giving the right impression of the Kingdom of God to his workers, he had it demolished. In its place he commissioned one of the grandest and most ornate rural 19th century churches in East Anglia.
The nave and chancel are tall, with great ridge-backed roofs. The tower is offset on the north side, rather unusually, as if this was a church designed for some shoe-horned plot in Kentish Town, but came to earth in deepest rural Norfolk instead. Pleasingly, the main material is flint, with freestone details. The only exception is the tower, which is built of stone. It's the only thing about it that doesn't really work.
As I say, Framingham Pigot is on the outskirts of Poringland; but it has fortunately managed to escape being part of that most cold and unwelcoming of all Norfolk benefices, and you'll find it open or accessible. Because of this, you can step inside to an interior that is fully High Church, Tractarian in design, a relatively early example for East Anglia. This is enhanced by an excellent collection of windows, most of which appear to be by Hardman & Co.
Directly opposite the south doorway is what seems to be a split-level transept, but is actually the base of the tower. I assume that originally it was intended that the lower storey be a baptistry, and the upper storey an organ loft. However, neither are now in use for that purpose. On the ground floor is a delicious little Lady altar, and the organ now sits at the west end, blocking the main west doors. On either side of it there are college seats, as if Christie originally had even grander plans. Today they are inaccessible, and used for storage.
Simon Knott, March 2006
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