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

All Saints, Kirby Cane

Kirby Cane

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Kirby Cane south door ihs

    All Saints, Kirby Cane
font face   The first time I ever visited Kirby Cane church, it was in the middle of the night. We were driving past, taking the narrow country lanes between Norwich and Bungay. We came over a rise, and the round tower loomed up before us in the moonlight. I remember getting out and wandering up the path under the dark spreading canopy of the magnificent spruce trees. It was like walking into a Gothick horror story.

Kirby Cane parish contains the sizeable village of Kirby Row, but the church and churchyard are some way off on the other side of the Diss to Yarmouth road. In daylight this is a rather charming spot, although the trees are still magnificent. I can't think of any bigger in a Norfolk graveyard than the one near the gate. The graveyard itself is small, and pleasingly random.

And All Saints is a small church, the tower to scale. Its age is revealed by the beautiful Norman south doorway, a common feature around here in this area of small parishes with small churches, although Sam Mortlock points out that this one has an outer ring of decoration which is unique in the county. The door is a little fiddly - you have to get the handle of the latch just right - but you step into a well-maintained interior which is full of light. There is a beautiful roodloft stairway set in the splay of the window on the south side.

The font is a fine example from the 14th century. It's traceried panels were probably painted once, and the heads peering from beneath the bowl are all different. The font cover remembers the Coronation of Edward VII, the first there had been of a British monarch in 65 years.The royal arms and a pair of hatchments on the west wall have been restored splendidly - they look almost new - and, indeed, one of them is 20th Century, one of the very last in England.

The furnishings are simple and seemly; the chancel, with its Restoration period communion rails. is elegant in its simplicity. It is all thoroughly fitting for modern Anglican worship. The glass in the east window is stretched to create a shimmering effect, with a single panel of heraldic glass in the middle. On the north side of the chancel is a blocked archway, once that to a chapel, with a tombchest set against it. Can it once have been an Easter sepulchre? It seems hard to believe that it is in its original place.

A curiosity is the brass plaque on the chancel floor inscribed in an amateur hand. It tells us that Here lieth the body of John Watson Rector of Kirby Cane who died January 5th Ano Do MDMV - presumably it means MDCV, that is to say 1605. It ends with words which I cannot decode.

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Simon Knott, July 2009

Christ at Bethany looking east font royal arms
Martha and Mary heraldic window Easter sepulchre sanctuary war memorial
here lieth King Edward VII font face


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