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St Mary, Hackford
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A surprise in the porch is the elaborate 15th century holy water stoup set on a fluted pillar. It is set in the angle of the porch with a high canopy over it. Surely it cannot have come from here originally? If not, then perhaps it is from nearby Wymondham Abbey, and was placed here by the Victorians.
Not unreasonably, we couldn't have expected the church to be open. The 15th century door has two curious locking mechanisms, presumably both 18th century in origin. One slides across, the other is a more conventional turning ring. We fiddled with both, but the door wouldn't open. Peter was surprised, as this is a church he is fond of, and it is usually accessible. In the end, I tried taking the weight of the door as I turned the ring - and the door opened. The cold, damp air had simply swollen it into place.
You step down into a long interior which is charmingly rustic, owing as much to Diocesan architect Hubert Green's 1880s restoration as it does to the middle ages. Green's painted texts above all the arches seem as ancient and remote now as the 14th century font with its passion symbols on the shields.
There are a number of curiosities. The wooden newel post of the rood loft stairway has survived in part, something I don't think I have seen before in Norfolk, and led me to wonder if, in fact, the stairway had not been enclosed as is usual but was merely set into the wall. There is a niche below it which suggests there was never a wall on the inside of the stairway, and four further extremely elaborate niches, two each side of the chancel arch. The sedilia is little more than a window seat now, but has access to the piscina beside it through a niche, which seems to have been a local fashion.
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