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

St Andrew, Letheringsett

Letheringsett: pleasingly compact

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from the south... ...and from the north Letheringsett Hall, now a nursing home

    St Andrew, Letheringsett
curious long armed corbel (c) John Salmon   Not far from Holt, this pleasingly compact round-towered church sits beside Letheringsett Hall, now a nursing home. The church is yew-surrounded, a narrow clerestory peeking just above the little aisles. Although clearly Victorianised, the building has an ancient manner.

Two names that will be known well to anyone with a passing interest in the churches of north Norfolk have left their mark here, and are responsible more than most for the way we find the church today. Firstly, this was the parish church of Sir Alfred Jodrell of Bayfield Hall. In the late 19th century, Sir Alfred was responsible for the rebuilding of Glandford as a memorial to his mother, and also for the restoration of the more famous Salle. He also paid for much to be done here, as we will see.

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 Their rather dry style has seen them largely superceded today, but he was responsible for speaking out for the past in an age when it was becoming fashionable to forget it.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.

Last Supper/Gethsemane, Ascension, Angel at the Tomb (c) John Salmon fishers of men (c) John Salmon St Cecilia and St Gregory (c) John Salmon the Baptism of Christ (c) John Salmon St Peter and St Andrew (c) John Salmon
medieval glass of the Norwich school: Christ in Majesty at the top, angels and king below (c) John Salmon St John and St Stephen (c) John Salmon the Light of the World (c) John Salmon Annunciation (c) John Salmon medieval glass of the Norwich school (c) John Salmon 

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.

There are a number of other memorials, but perhaps the most interesting is the handwritten copy of the gravestone to Johnson Jex, the village blacksmith who became renowned as an inventer and maker of clocks. His serene death mask tops the inscription. And this is a serene church, peaceful, full of light and a testimony to the best that the last 150 years could do to care for a medieval space. I look forward to going back and actually seeing it all for myself, assuming that I am allowed in.   Faith and Hope (c) John Salmon   John Frederick Nash, 1906 (c) John Salmon

Simon Knott, January 2006


looking east (c) John Salmon south arcade (c) John Salmon font at the west end of the south aisle (c) John Salmon
organ chamber (c) John Salmon 19th century roof (c) John Salmon piscina (c) John Salmon Christopher Webb, 1958 (c) John Salmon
Jodrells, mainly (c) John Salmon Sir Alfred Jodrell's reredos (c) John Salmon Michell (c) John Salmon WWII (c) John Salmon
war memorial (c) John Salmon Wortley (c) John Salmon reredos detail (c) John Salmon royal arms of Elizabeth, sampler for Chas & Di (c) John Salmon Lady Jodrell (c) John Salmon
alms chest (c) John Salmon west door into tower (c) John Salmon Johnson Jex (c) John Salmon table tomb in graveyard (c) John Salmon

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