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All Saints, Horstead

Horstead

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All Saints, Horstead

Horstead and the larger village of Coltishall cling to each other across the River Bure, forming what is effectively a small but busy Broadland town. It's a popular stopping off point for boats and other visitors, and handily placed for Norwich commuters. Horstead's church sits at the west end of the village above the Bure, set back from the main road behind the village hall. It's an attractive church, its three red roofs of different heights huddling like a medieval town beneath the chimney-like tower, with elegant reticulated tracery in the two east windows of chancel and south aisle chapel. This is all a rather clever sleight of hand, because apart from the 14th Century tower, the building is pretty much all the work of diocesan surveyor Richard Phipson, completed in 1879. It is worth noting that this is at the time he was working on his masterpiece, St Mary le Tower in Ipswich, and there are perhaps slight echoes of that great urban church in the attention to detail, and the way the roofs are used to create a visual effect of a cluster of buildings. Incidentally, Pevsner points out that the reported cost of the rebuilding, a mere 1,178, roughly 200,000 in today's money, does not seem anywhere near enough.

Apart from the tower, the 14th Century south doorway survives, and what appears to be the original door. However, you step through it into a church that is, essentially, all of a piece. Not much predates Phipson's rebuilding. A set of royal arms for Queen Anne hangs above the south doorway, and below it there is an octagonal font on its colonnade (boring, thought Pevsner, probably C17). There are several 17th and 18th Century memorials, the most impressive of which is a real period piece of 1744 to John Langley Watts, reset on the north wall of the nave. An oval plaque leans to the west (Neoclassical, yet as asymmetrical as any daring Rococo vignette, observed Pevsner) with an urn on a pile of books beside it. There is a wordy brass plaque of 1645 apparently reset in a ledger stone that tells us that Hic secundum Christi redemptoris adventus expectans requiescit Henricus Ward ('Here rests Henry Ward, awaiting the Second Coming of Christ the Redeemer') and another simpler brass inscription of 1636 to Ann Townshend. Simon Cotton tells me that a will of 1480 indicates that there once shrines here to St Margaret of Harstead and Our Lady of Pity of Harstead. Further, a 1499 will refers to the light of Henrici Sexti Reg, suggesting there was a statue or some other image of the popular and near-canonised Henry VI.

But the glory of Horstead church today is an excellent range of glass by a variety of late 19th and early 20th Century workshops. The most memorable of these is the 1890s south aisle window designed by Edward Burne-Jones for the William Morris workshop. It depicts Courage and Humility. Courage is a soldier, a St George-like character, his shield slammed by crossbow bolts. Humility is a woman, a figure used elsewhere by Burne-Jones as St Mary Magdalene. The east window is by Kempe & Co, installed in 1912 and surprisingly good for the workshop on such a scale. The figures depicted include two locals. Herbert de Losinga holds the Cathedral which he founded at Norwich, while the mystic Julian of Norwich stands with the church in which she was an anchoress and from which she took her name. Between them are the Blessed Virgin and St Nicholas. Female figures in Kempe windows are not always successful. Often, the workshop depicted them as rather matronly. But the Blessed Virgin here is young and triumphant, and even Dame Julian wears her wisdom lightly. A Jesse window by Hardman & Co of 1920 in the south aisle chapel depicts the ancestry of Christ. Back in the nave, the oldest glass here is of 1887 depicting St Matthew and St Paul. It's by Charles Evans & Co, a workshop I hadn't come across before. The window of Christ the Good Shepherd and St John must be by Clayton & Bell I think, and could the glass of Christ calming the waters be by Powell & Son?

Perhaps the best thing of all here is the way that the parish memorialised its dead of the First World War. This was done in several ways. A framed wooden plaque was placed in memory of these members of the choir of this church, the four lads listed on it being Arthur Bishop assumed killed at Bapaume, Jack Foulger killed at Loos, Harry Norgate killed at Gaza, and Wilfred Walton, Merchant Apprentice on HMS 'Arab' sunk by torpedo. His recovered body was buried at Bizerta in modern Tunisia. He was just 17 years old. Above the memorial is set what was popularly known as a Dead Man's Penny for another parishioner, Bertie Barnes. There's another in the window splay of the south aisle chapel to Drury Wormald, a Captain in the Royal Garrison Artillery. These large round plaques, depicting Britannia exhorting a lion to go into battle, were sent to the families of the dead along with a citation. Most of them probably ended up in bottom drawers, until they were brought again into the light of day years later by house clearances. There are always a few of them for sale on ebay.

Simon Knott, February 2024

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looking east sanctuary nave altar
font Queen Anne royal arms John Langley Watts, 1774 three servants of Lady Birkbeck, 1894
humilty and courage east window (Kempe & Co, 1912) Christ the Good Shepherd and St John (Clayton & Bell?, 1890s) St George & St Cecilia (Kempe & Co, 1900) 'When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee' (Powell & Sons?, 1912)
St Nicholas and Julian of Norwich (Kempe & Co, 1912) 'To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life'  (Kempe & Co, 1912) angel with a dedicatory scroll (Kempe & Co, 1912)
courage Tree of Jesse (Hardman & Co, c1920) Kempe & Co St Matthew and St Paul (Charles Evans & Co, 1887) humility
St Julian, Norwich Queen of Heaven (Hardman & Co) Norwich Cathedral
Corpl. H.E. Norgate (Percy) Ann Townshend, 1636 Henry Ward waits for the Second Coming of Christ, 1645
'in memory of these members of the choir of this church' Drury Frank Percy Wormald Killed in action in France, 1814

   
 
               
                 

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