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St Remigius, Roydon
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This meant those near to Diss - I am at a loss to understand why most of the churches in the Thetford area lock out us strangers and pilgrims in such a hard-hearted way, but that is a story which we must save for later. So, with smiles on our faces we approached St Remigius, a bold sign in the north porch reminding us that ROYDON CHURCH WELCOMES VISITORS.
I was pleased to learn from Sarah Briscoe of the Roydon PCC that the ceiling in the Parish Room is made from an old cedar tree which grew in the churchyard. She tells me that this cedar was diseased and had to be felled, so the timber was kept and made into boards to be used in the new Parish Room. The cross in the room and the frames for the noticeboards in the room and the church are also made from the tree.
This elegance is repeated inside the body of the church. Just as with the outside, the interior is essentially a Victorian rebuilding, but this is done so well that there is a feeling of continuity, despite there being few medieval survivals. The most interesting are probably the corbel heads in the arcade, which reveal that a Norman church was substantially rebuilt in the 13th century.
Here in the aisle, and elsewhere in the church, are memorials to the Frere family, with spare and heartbreaking inscriptions that are well-known enough to make them a goal of visitors here. Temple Frere, we are told, was drowned when saving the life of a fellow-student; he died in 1840, at the age of 22. A little further along the same wall is Griffith Temple Frere, who died in the fire which consumed the Vicarage-House at Warfield, Berks, in the night of 14th March 1839. He was just two years old.
There's another striking memorial up in the chancel. Richard Edward Frere died in 1842 in India, at Rawalpindi - or, as the memorial puts it, Rawul Pindee. He is not buried here. The inscription reads:
The Royal Arms are interesting. My correspondent Bryan Kitson points out that someone has added G R at the top, but the heraldry is certainly of that short second half of Queen Annes reign following the union with Scotland (1707-14). But the motto is Dieu et mon Droit, not Annes invariable Semper Eadem, so these Arms may well have been amended more than once. The usually indefatigable Cautley merely states they are for George I! Simple, elegant coloured glass in the chancel completes the harmony of this pleasing interior. In the east window are St Susannah, St Remigius and St Elizabeth; best of all is the decorative glass in the north chancel window, an Arts and Craftsy pattern of roses and lilies. A church, then, to lift the spirits.
Simon Knott, January 2007
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