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All Saints, Helhoughton
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When the nave was rebuilt, it was given one of the low plaster ceilings fashionable at the time. Otherwise, the proportions are those of a medieval church, and so there is something a little odd about the roof. Mortlock found the plaster flaking and falling into the nave, but in the 1980s there was a big restoration carried out by the workers of the euphemistically named Manpower Services Commission's Community Programme. In those years of mass unemployment, this was a kind of pressgang to ensure that people earned their dole money - several East Anglian churches benefited from the cheap labour of the time. The ceiling now has recessed spotlights, as if this had been a DIY project in someone's master bedroom. Actually, it is rather interesting - I'm glad that every church doesn't have them, but I quite liked finding them here.
Otherwise, the interior is spotless and rather lovely. The brick floors are a delight, the Norman font set on four columns and a heavy base a great curiosity. The clear windows fill the church with light, and the chancel is pretty. It contains two items of great interest; a heart brass, and the best James I royal arms in the county. They have been relettered for Queen Anne and dated 1706, but they actually come from a century earlier, and still bear James I's motto, Exurgat Deus et Dissipentur Inimici ('Rise up o God and put down my enemies'). This is a very satisfying thing to say in Latin, and I find myself praying it under my breath several times during the course of a normal working day.
Simon Knott, October 2007
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