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St Remigius, Hethersett
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The reason for this is that the church was originally cruciform. The lower eastern third of the nave roof marks the place where the crossing was. After the Reformation, the chancel fell into decay and was taken down, the space under the crossing serving as the new sanctuary. During the considerable 1870s restoration, the chancel was rebuilt on a rather grand scale, and the transepts were truncated and harmonised as eastward extensions of the nave aisles. The southern chancel chapel is 19th century, although what it contains is much earlier.
You enter through a south porch which is reminiscent of Wymondham. The roof bosses are strikingly similar, and are probably by the same hand; if anything, they are finer than Wymondham's. As at Wymondham, they show parts of a rosary sequence, incidents in the lives of Christ and his mother. The finest are the Mother of God enthroned (above), and the three below, the Annunciation, the Baptism of Christ and the Ascension.
The 1870s restoration was so drastic that very little medieval survived at all, apart from the bare bones of the building. The late 14th century font is extremely good, eight unique floriated crosses on an octagonal bowl - curiously, it is set on nine columns in an Early English style, which is not a good look. Perhaps it is a Victorian confection. In the south chancel chapel they moved a 15th century memorial to the Berneys, the figures of a knight and his lady. Unfortunately, they placed the organ in front of it, and it is now kept locked, so I have not seen it.
St Remigius is one of those churches that manages to convey how active it is; despite its sitting on the periphery of the village, it feels as if it is at the heart of the spiritual identity of the place. I was lucky enough to meet the Rector, and I got the impression fairly quickly that she is probably the main reason why. One of the first wave of woman Priests, she seems to have carried on with the energy and enthusiasm she started with. As at one of her other churches, Little Melton, there is an ambitious conversion plan for the west end of the church which reflects this enthusiasm, is well-thought out, and will, I think, be an adornment.
Simon Knott, January 2006
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