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

All Saints, Great Fransham

    All Saints, Great Fransham
war damage   If you have come here from the beautiful little church of Little Fransham expecting more of the same, then I am afraid you are in for a disappointment. While Little Fransham is open and welcoming, and deliciously pretty, this rather dour church sits half a mile away from it not speaking, locked without a keyholder, and with no indication that it is even in use anymore.

This is a pity, because All Saints is a great survivor. Towards the end of the Second World War, a flying bomb shattered this little parish church, and much loving care went into restoring it to use. There is evidence of repair at the east end.

You can see from the remains of the arcade in the south wall that there was once an aisle here. The pretty little lead spire looks as if it is on holiday from somewhere in Essex.

It may be that the parish thinks their church is of little interest, and keeps it locked for that reason. If that is so, then they are wrong; All Saints has several brasses, including the large 1414 brass to Galfridus Fransham which is of national importance. Another is a shroud brass. In addition, the medieval font will be of particular interest to family history enthusiasts, because it originally came from the busy city centre parish of St Etheldreda in Norwich.

Perhaps they keep it all locked up to protect their property, but as we are reminded by Ecclesiastical Insurance, a church which is not regularly open is statistically more likely to be vandalised, more likely to be broken into, and more likely to have something stolen from it than one which is.

And a locked church is a dying church. It always has a sullen expression, even more on a bright spring day with all nature waking up around it. The larch trees were coming into bud, the deep vermillion of their young cones combining with bluebells in the shadows to create a haze of colour down at the east end of the graveyard. But All Saints seemed cold and lifeless in the face of such splendour.

Simon Knott, May 2006

  larch coming back to life
   

 

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