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St Michael, Plumstead
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The interior is that of a typical late 19th century small church, made slightly urban in feel by the crispness of the pitch pine and Minton tiling. The nave has one of those elegant brass candelabras which are in several churches around here. You can see the remains of the arcade in the south wall, and this is the most significant survival of the medieval life of Plumstead.
However, the church is rescued from anonymity by a good collection of medieval and continental glass brought here from Catton Hall, near Norwich, in 1950. The best of it is in the east window, a charming St Agnes set in the centre and then other panels depicting saints in holy orders, including two which may well be St Benedict and St Dominic. An intriguing feature of two of the panels is that two little heads fill a corner of the bottom of each. Almost certainly, they are portraits of the donors. Beside the heads, the barleycorn motifs which are typical of the Norwich School of the 15th Century are scattered across the floor beneath the Saints' feet. In a south window of the chancel are two large panels of 16th Century continental glass, including a floating angel, who really looks like nothing else I have ever seen in an English church.
There are two unusual features in the nave. One is a set of Royal Arms for George VI, which I think may well be unique in East Anglia. I have seen several sets for Elizabeth II, but I do not recall seeing one for her father before.
Simon Knott, April 2008
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