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St Mary, Norton Subcourse
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It always amazes me that, in out of the way places like this, you can never go into a pub without hearing people talking in cockney accents. I had suddenly found myself in urgent need of one the many facilities a pub can offer - it wasn't a drink, it wasn't the condom machine - but I thought I'd better buy a half of bitter while I was in there, so that the landlady wouldn't disapprove of me. I always want these village inns to be full of old Norfolk bors with shaggy beards and pewter tankards, and for the whole place to fall absolutely silent as I come in - but there were just two drinkers, both in their early fifties I suppose. I stood waiting at the bar, and, I kid you not, they were discussing crocodiles they'd wrestled in the Australian outback, all in broad Old Kent Road accents. Maybe it was performance art provided by South Norfolk District Council. How bizarre. I left the pub relieved in more than one sense, and rejoined DD on our journey to St Mary.
We already knew that we would not be able to get in. Uniquely in this neck of the woods, Norton Subcourse church is kept locked. There is a keyholder, but this being a Saturday he was out - they always are on a Saturday, in my experience. The long low assemblage of nave and chancel is reminiscent of Ashby, although the thatch there would be nice here. In contract with Ashby's long square tower, Norton Subcourse has a solid, tapering round tower, flint with a bit of red brick repair at the top. All splendidly ancient, but a bit lacking in excitement when you can't actually see inside. So I photographed the village war memorial for the roll-of-honour project, and then we headed on out to the marshes. Fortunately, Peter Stephens was able to send me some photos of the inside - so we can all see it. I was particularly intrigued by the view of the west wall, with the Norman opening as at Toft Monks. You can see Peter's photos below.
Simon Knott, February 2005
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