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

All Saints, North Wootton

North Wooton: Mr Salvin would be pleased

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from the south-east 1850s Early English Scottish baronial triple lancets

    All Saints, North Wootton
as it was before 1850   North Wootton is the very outer tip of Kings Lynn's northern suburbia, and the church is at the far north end of it - it is so rural in its setting that you woud not know you were anywhere near a town. The medieval parish church here was in a very sorry state by the early 19th century; the tower had collapsed, the chancel had been taken down, and the porch was leaning at a very odd angle - or that could just be the perspective of my photograph of the photocopy of Ladbroke's drawing hanging up in the porch. It was completely demolished in 1850, and replaced by this new church, the work of Anthony Salvin, at a cost, according to Pevsner, of 2,200 (about half a million in today's money).

The style is very much Early English, familar from the nearby Marshland churches, with a grand west door flanked by niches, and lots of blind arcading on the base of the tower. Plate tracery and three narrow lancets in the east complete the picture. The tower has a stair turret in the south-west corner which is capped in the Scottish baronial style, popular in the mid-century.

The font is a rather striking 19th century tub with stylised foliage. All Saints came fully furnished, and although we must expect churches like this to lack great historical or architectural interest, there is still a fine atmosphere inside, a feeling that the mid-Victorians have not long since left. The choir stalls in the chancel are particularly good, their heads presumably those of parishioners - one has wonderful Victorian muttonchop whiskers. The windows have a bit of character from the additions of stained glass during the course of the rest of the century; Pevsner says it is all by Ward & Hughes. Some of it is interesting, most of it rather run of the mill. Perhaps the most interesting figure is the rare St Frances; you can also see her at Kimberley. Finally, there are gorgeous Art Nouveau lamp standards throughout the church, and then that was pretty much it. On this misty autumn day there was a touch of melancholy about it, which suited it rather well.

In recent years, the sanctuary has been simplified, but when we looked under the tower, we found an early 20th century reredos reset there, with sweetly naive paintings of the Annunciation. I have never seen Gabriel look so young. The base of the tower has been filled in to form a kitchen and other facilities, and this has been done very well. Up above, there is a little room, set into the tower, that can be used for meetings. All in all, this is a lovely, welcoming little church, and I'm sure Mr Salvin would be pleased to see that so much of its integrity has survived.

Simon Knott, October 2005


from the gallery looking east font looking west
Art Nouveau St Frances Suffer The Children To Come Unto Me The risen Christ east window
Charity (detail) the upper room muttonchop whiskers
Gabriel Annunciation reredos Mary 

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