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St Andrew, Letheringsett
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The other was the church historian and antiquarian Charles Linnell, who was Rector here in the 1950s. Linnell is best known for the books and guides he wrote for and about Norfolk churches. Their rather dry style has seen them largely superceded today, but he was responsible for speaking out for the past in an age when it was becoming fashionable to forget it. He was co-author of the Shell Guide to Norfolk with his friend Lady Harrod, founder of the Norfolk Churches Trust, which remains a guiding light in the county.
I have to say that I have not been lucky with my visits to this church. Although it is open to visitors every day, I have come here three times and on each occasion found it locked, or about to be locked. This is, of course, not the place's fault, but mine; arriving at 4pm usually allows entry to a country church, but not here. My most recent visit was with John Salmon. As he got his photographic equipment out of the boot of the car, I walked up the church path; I reached the porch and met the two ladies who were just locking up.
I could see straight away that we weren't going to get away with it. They were steely-eyed and determined. Their first gambit was to tell me to come back tomorrow; but I had come all the way from Ipswich, and I explained that this was not possible. I pleaded for just a glimpse - a glance even - two minutes at the most? Not having been inside, I hoped that this would be enough time for a quick shot to east, to west, the font and perhaps a couple of windows.
I can be charming when I'm desperate, and it wasn't long before I managed to melt the heart of at least one of the old ladies. "Well, alright, just a minute then", she conceded. Fortunately, she was the one with the key; judging by the way that the other lady sighed and put her hands on her hips, I don't think my whining had much effect on her. The keyholder unlocked and swung open the door, following me in; the other lady took a hold of the handle and kept one foot on the threshold, so that I didn't get any funny ideas about staying.
I took one look around and I knew immediately that it was hopeless. Window after window in the aisles were full of 19th and early 20th century glass of considerable quality, acres and acres of it. John loves this kind of thing; I looked back out of the south door and saw him, mild-mannered and unassuming, coming up the path. He hadn't heard my conversation with the grim-faced keepers of the key, and I knew that he was about to be cruelly disappointed. The moment the lady at the door saw the tripod tucked under his arm, her eyes widened and she pursed her lips; and so I saved as much face as possible by conceding defeat and leaving, before John got inside and we were both thrown out.
Fortunately for this site, John was able to come back the following day, and so here are his images of the aisle windows, as well as other shots of the interior of this attractive and well-kept church.
The royal arms are to Elizabeth II, one of several such sets in Norfolk. They are signed by Charles Linnell as Rector; a sampler below them recalls the ill-fated marriage of Charles and Diana. In the nave, the candelabras are reminiscent of Glandford; as with the ones there, they were the gift of Sir Alfred Monckton. Sir Alfred was extremely high church, and would no doubt despair at the modern Church of England; typical of his churchmanship is the magnificent and ornate reredos with its elaborate carving. It is a memorial to his mother, as is the whole church at Glandford.
Simon Knott, January 2006
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