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St Theobald, Great Hautbois
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Theobald, Great Hautbois
This splendid, venerable, ancient place was obviously quite unsuitable to the mid-Victorian mind, and so it was ruined, a new church being built in the middle of the village on the main road. This may have been a practical decision, to make life easier for parishioners, but was as likely a response to the threat of non-conformism, which was becoming rather too convenient with Coltishall just over the hill. The nave and aisle were deroofed, and the chancel converted into a mortuary chapel, the graveyard continuing to be in use, which it still is today. The body of the church is accessible to visitors through an iron gate. The chapel, however, appears to be disused; when I peeped through the window all I could see was an old desk and a bench.
The round tower is rugged, to say the least, and from several angles this church looks like nothing so much as a disused Cornish tin mine. The aisle makes the nave seem very square, as if an arcade were running up the middle, and the local Hall family have rather monopolised this space for their gravestones, a kind of mausoleum on the cheap. The mound is obviously an ancient place, but the delicious thrill is one of gothic horror - I imagine that local teenagers find this a difficult place to resist after dark.
Simon Knott, April 2005
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