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

St Peter and St Paul, Mautby

Mautby: small, friendly, welcoming

    St Peter and St Paul, Mautby
rood: a relic of past enthusiasm   Now, here's a curiosity for you. This round tower has carstone banding, and this is usually taken as a sign of very early construction, probably before the Norman Conquest. The church was probably contemporary, but the wall that separates the church from the tower seems to be that of a bigger church than we see today.

And something unusual here happened in the 14th century, at the time the chancel and an aisle were built, because inside there is an extraordinarily tall chancel arch, and within you can see that the inside of the tower is not round, but square. Presuming that the tower was originally round, why was it squared off inside? Or is that not a safe presumption to make?

I must tell you that I like this church a great deal. It is the most friendly and welcoming in the area to the west of Great Yarmouth, and a real pleasure to visit.

I have written elsewhere, on the entry for Rollesby, about the dramatic effects of the 19th century revival in the Church of England. The great Anglo-catholic wave that rolled out from Oxford has now receded, but in its wake it has left elaborately decorated sacramental spaces, whereas before they were little more than preaching boxes.

Most obviously in this part of Norfolk, this has left a legacy of late 19th and early 20th century glass. At Mautby there is more; a colourful rood, a little tabernacle on the back of the otherwise bare and undressed altar.

Today, Mautby is a pretty little low church Anglican shrine, always open to visitors, relatively bare and seemly, and none the worse for that. But there are still traces of a dramatic recent past. In a chancel south window there is an image of St Thomas of Aquinas - an unlikely Saint to find in an Anglican church! His companion is St Clare of Assisi. There is a fine Annunciation, and little images in a medieval style of St Peter and St Paul in the east window. All in all, it is touching and pleasing to behold.

  St Clare of Assisi   St Thomas Aquinas

The most famous name associated with Mautby is Margaret Paston, of the Paston Letters. She was buried here - or, more accurately, she now lies buried just outside, for if you look at the south wall you can see that it is built into an arcade. There was once an aisle here, where she gave orders to be buried. The aisle was demolished soon after the Reformation, and the arcade blocked off.


The sensitive 1884 restoration by the minor architect Arthur Hewitt pierced it with windows, but left the arcade itself intact. Reset in its most easterly bay are the remains of the tomb of a Knight Templar in mid-13th century dress, as if he had just got back from the crusades and lain down here.

Finally, there is a memorial to the victims of a plane crash near here in 1947. It must have been a traumatic event in such a quiet little parish.

Simon Knott, April 2006


looking east looking west font arcade to a lost aisle
crusader old woodwork built into stalls Annunciation piscina and sedilia
sanctuary St Paul St Peter piscina

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