home I index I latest I glossary I introductions I e-mail I about this site

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

St Michael, Ingoldisthorpe

Ingoldisthorpe

Follow these journeys as they happen at Last Of England Twitter.

  St Michael, Ingoldisthorpe

The villages set back from the sea on the road north from King's Lynn straggle towards each other, almost touching. Ingoldisthorpe is one of them. The name means an outlying settlement on land belonging to Ingyaldr, an Norse chieftain. I'm told that the parish name is pronounced In-g'l-thorp. There is a brook flowing down to the Wash called the Ingold, but this is a backnaming from the village. In this hilly landscape the church sits above the village, doubly remote from it now because it is entirely surrounded by modern housing, and if you did not know it was there you'd probably not find it.

The surprise once you penetrate the secluded setting is that this is a large church with two aisles and clerestories, and the clerestories have those alternating round and arched windows you find a couple of miles off at Snettisham and the more famous churches at Cley-next-the-Sea and Upper Sheringham along the coast. Here, the round windows have quatrefoil tracery. This 14th Century motif indicates the age of the nave and aisles, but the long chancel came a little later. There was a major restoration in the 1850s by George Pritchett, and his work will be the first impression as you step inside. However, Ingoldisthorpe church is unusual in this part of the world because it is kept locked, and the reason seems to be that once the door is unlocked it is impossible to remove the key. Thus, it isn't possible to leave the church open without a risk of someone either stealing the key or locking it for a joke. A notice on the porch gates tells you where to find the key, just a short walk away.

The interior you step into is wide and light despite a fair amount of coloured glass. At the west end of the nave stands the font, and it is a curiosity. This corner of Norfolk has East Anglia's best group of 12th Century square fonts with intricate reliefs on each side, and Ingoldisthorpe's is one of them. However, at some point, probably in the 14th Century, the corners have been sawn off to make it octagonal in the fashion of the day. You can see something similar at Burnham Norton away to the east.

font (12th Century, altered 14th Century) font (12th Century, altered 14th Century) font (12th Century, altered 14th Century)

Oddly, the sawn-off surface on the south-western corner of the font appears to have been prepared for some design, for it has been deeply inscribed with lines. Could it be that the Black Death intervened before anything else could be done? Behind the font under the tower are a set of early 17th Century figure brasses to Thomas and Agnes Bigge and their daughter. Agnes was the daughter of Thomas Rogerson, the rector of Ingoldisthorpe, and both the women wear the tall hats we tend to associate with the puritans of that time. Their inscription details the bequests of the family for money to be distributed to the poor of the parish each year on St Thomas's Day.

Most of the glass is by the O'Connor workshop in the 1860s, and are good examples of their best work. A pair of windows remember members of the Beckett family. Each window has three scenes, one depicting the Presentation in the Temple, Samuel hearing the voice of God in the house of Eli, and Christ welcoming the children. Curiously, the inscription underneath refers to David and Jonathan, they were lovely and pleasant in their lives and in death were not divided. Beside it, another window shows Hannah in the Temple at Shiloh, Christ with the woman caught in adultery, and Dorcas dispensing charity, the inscription below it referring to her as a widow well reported of for her good works. A third window remembers Thomas J Beckett who died in 1863 at the age of 22 in New Brunswick, Canada, and the upper lights show images of him at his desk, and then lying dead, and then the boats in Saint John harbour.

Thomas J Beckett, died aged 22 in New Brunswick,  Canada, 1863 (O'Connors, 1860s, photographed in 2006)(photographed in 2006) The death of Thomas J Beckett, aged 22 in New Brunswick,  Canada, 1863 (O'Connors, 1860s, photographed in 2006) Saint John, New Brunswick from scenes in the life of Thomas J Beckett, died aged 22 in New Brunswick,  Canada, 1863 (O'Connors, 1860s, photographed in 2006)

Another Beckett, William Thomas, was for more than 40 years rector of this parish, and died at the age of 81 in 1898. His memorial window by Heaton, Butler & Bayne is at the east end of the north aisle. Christ is at the centre receiving the children, but the outer lights depict the rector himself in scenes from the Works of Mercy, on one side feeding the hungry and on the other comforting the dying. It was Beckett who commissioned Pritchett's restoration of the church soon after taking up the reins in the 1850s. Pritchett also designed and rebuilt the neighbouring Rectory for the not inconsiderable sum of 2,000, not far short of half a million in today's money. In the 1850s, many churches were built for less.

Beside William Beckett's memorial window in the aisle is a lovely depiction of Faith, Hope and Charity by W E Hodges for Powell & Son, 1934. Charity has a light to herself, and as is common protects two children, but the older is a girl with the bobbed haircut fashionable in the 1930s. Underneath, angels hold shields with the symbols of an anchor for Hope and a burning heart for Faith. A plaque beneath the window tells us that it is in memory of Lucy Frances Ridley of Ingoldisthorpe Hall,, and was installed by her brothers and that the figures are adapted from those in a window in Woolton Hill Church Hampshire in memory of their mother.

Charity, Faith, Hope (Powell & Sons, 1930s) Charity (Powell & Sons, 1930s) Faith and Hope (Powell & Sons, 1930s)
angel and a shield with the burning heart of Faith (Powell & Sons, 1930s) angel and a shield with the anchor of Hope (Powell & Sons, 1930s)
Child of Charity (Powell & Sons, 1930s)

There is a sweet little altar shoe-horned into the east end of the south aisle, complete with a sarum screen. Above it, glass by Frederick Preedy shows Christ walking on water and Lazarus being raised from the dead. The high altar in the chancel is a splendid object with matching reredos, very much in the High Church tradition of the early 20th century. I wonder if it was installed as a war memorial?

William Beckett's predecessor as rector at Ingoldisthorpe was Abraham Hepworth, whose return at the 1851 Census of Religious Worship was brief and to the point. Out of a total parish population of almost three hundred and fifty there were seventy five people in attendance at morning worship that day, of whom thirty were scholars and had no choice but to be there. Unusually for East Anglia there were not many more in attendance for the afternoon sermon, which was almost always more popular in East Anglia, with an attendance of a hundred including, once again, those scholars. Nevertheless, the Reverend Hepworth had no need for embarrassment for these were good figures for East Anglia, where an attendance of as much as a quarter of the parish population was rare and something to be pleased with. Was it a High Church enthusiasm in the parish that got them out to morning worship of a Sunday, or was it the charisma of the Reverend Hepworth himself? His income of 380 a year, roughly 75,000 in today's money, would be beyond the wildest dreams of a modern incumbent, but it was by no means in the higher bracket of ecclesiastical incomes at the time, and he was clearly working harder for it than many of his Norfolk colleagues.

Simon Knott, April 2023

Follow these journeys as they happen at Last Of England Twitter.

looking east chancel
sanctuary altar and reredos south aisle chapel
St Michael Works of Mercy: William Thomas Beckett giving food to the hungry (Heaton, Butler & Bayne, 1903) Christ with the children flanked by the Works of Mercy, William Thomas Beckett giving food to the hungry and comforting the dying (Heaton, Butler & Bayne, 1903) Works of Mercy: William Thomas Beckett comforting the dying (Heaton, Butler & Bayne, 1903) St Michael
Presentation in the Temple (O'Connors, 1862) Presentation in the Temple, Samuel hears the voice of God in the house of Eli, Christ welcomes the children(O'Connors, 1862) Hannah in the Temple at Shiloh, Christ with the woman caught in adultery, Dorcas dispensing charity (O'Connors, 1862) Samuel hears the voice of God in the house of Eli (O'Connors, 1862)
King holding a cloth from Instruments of the Passion (Brown of Kings Lynn, 1850s)) Theodorus Hoste who in the reign of George the Second serv'd as Lieutenant to Sir James Chamberlayne Knight in his Majesties Royal Regiment of Horse Guards, 1778 Bert Emmerson, killed in action (in France) Rogersons, early 17th Century (photographed in 2006)
censing angel St George the Lamb of God

 
   
               
                 

The Churches of East Anglia websites are non-profit-making. But if you enjoy using them and find them useful, a small contribution towards the cost of web space, train fares and the like would be most gratefully received. You can donate via Paypal.

                   
                     
                             

home I index I latest I introductions I e-mail I about this site I glossary
links I small print I www.simonknott.co.uk I www.suffolkchurches.co.uk
ruined churches I desktop backgrounds I round tower churches

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