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

St Andrew, Hoe


1999 W G 1833

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    St Andrew, Hoe

St Andrew is one of a number of little churches lost in the convoluted lanes to the north of Dereham. Lost, not least, because there is no village here, just the big Hall beside the church at the heart of the agricultural estate. The church key was kept at the estate office at the time of my visit in April 2016.

The first impression of St Andrew is how odd it looks, a long, tall, angular block of a church softened only by its red-tiled early 19th Century porch. In fact, the church was entirely rebuilt at an unusual date, the 1780s, late enough for there to be a sense of Gothick, but not much ecclesiologically correct about it. Given that there were not many people living in the parish, it is likely that the rebuilding was at the behest of the L'Estrange family at the Hall. A chancel was added in 1820, although there isn't much to show the difference between the chancel and the nave either inside or out, and then the porch came in 1833. Mortlock thought that this was probably the time the medieval tower was truncated. And then the great Victorian revival began, but at Hoe there was apparently either not the money or the inclination to alter things further.

You step into a pleasingly well-kept church, inevitably tunnel-like but nicely furnished, fitting and seemly for Anglican worship. The font is late medieval, and was probably contemporary with the tower, for which there was a bequest in 1509. The medieval tower arch survives as a ghostly outline in the west wall of the nave. There are a number of noteworthy memorials. The best is to Roger L'Estrange who died in 1706, a good example of early 18th Century decorum.

Set in the floor is a brass inscription of 1467 for John de Hoo. Oddly, neither Pevsner nor his revising editors mention this inscription, but it is of interest because it has been subject to iconoclasm. The last clause, in which God is asked to have mercy on de Hoo's soul, has been removed, probably by 17th Century Puritans, because prayers for the souls of the dead ran counter to Puritan theology. Nearby, William Blackhall, 'yeman', who may well have been a puritan himself, has been sleeping quietly since 1654.

  mihi parta tueri

Simon Knott, August 2016

sanctuary looking west font
iconoclasm William Blackhall ye(o)man, 1654

The Hoe Dead hand in hand radiant crown under drape

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