always think that there is something particularly
poignant about a church whose ruination is
recent. Until 1940, this was a working building,
but it fell into disuse and was declared
redundant in 1946. In those unsentimental days it
befell the fate of all such abandoned churches,
having its roofs removed in a formal act of
dereliction. There must be many people alive
today who remember that happening.
not far from a back lane between Colkirk and
Whissonsett, there is no proper road to the
church and no real village. The church is
concealed from the road by a couple of cottages,
that's all, but enough to make it easy to forget
that it was there. When Bill Wilson visited for
the Pevsner revision in 1991 he found it
overgrown and inaccessible, a mass of ivy and
elder, quietly going back to nature. And that
might have been the end of the story.
the heroes of Norfolk County Council, who have made it
their business to save and consolidate 20 or so of the
most significant of Norfolk's 100-plus ruined churches.
In 1993, the ruin was completely cleared of overgrowth,
and the walls topped off to prevent further decay. The
graveyard was also cleared, and several of the graves
showed signs of being recently maintained.
obviously lost its tower some time in the 18th or early
19th century, and the base of the tower had been
converted into a shack-like vestry. This looks most odd
now that it is roofless. Also odd is the arrangement of
windows in the west wall of the nave. There are two high
up that must once have flanked the tower which are
mysterious. John Salmon wonders if they might have given
access to some kind of gallery.
single surviving window headstop on the south
side shows that this must have been quite a grand
place once. Poignant beneath it is a fine 18th
century headstone for Thomas Lawrence, with a
skull and egg-timers to remind us of our
mortality, as if the ruined church wasn't enough.
after this entry first appeared, I received a
lovely e-mail from Steve Greef, sending me a
photograph of his great-grandmother, Mary Greef,
standing outside Oxwick church with her donkey at
the end of the 19th century. Where she is
standing is now completely overgrown, and the
view is impossible today; but here it is, a
haunting memory of Norfolk as it was before we
Simon Knott, May 2006