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

St Peter and St Paul, Scarning

Scarning: attractive but locked

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    St Peter and St Paul, Scarning
on the very eve of the Reformation   This big church sits in the suburbs of Dereham halfway between that fine town's main parish church (open and welcoming) and that of Wendling (profoundly locked). We came here from Wendling, and found St Peter and St Paul immersed in exactly the same kind of locked-no-keyholder torpor as Wendling, although perhaps more shamefully so, as St Peter and St Paul is on the main road.

However, a few weeks later I found a leaflet in East Bilney church that exhorted me to visit the parish churches of the area, and one of them was Scarning, so perhaps it is normally open, and I found it on an off-day.

I can only try again. Until then, this will have to do - an attractive church despite the busy road, and an intriguing two-storey transept to the chancel. Mortlock dates this to the 1570s, the lower storey a vestry and the upper storey as a residence for the minister, and in truth it does have a Tudor look to it. Pevsner goes for the 19th century restoration of the chancel, pointing to the rather ugly east window as a companion piece.

In any case, the most interesting thing here is probably the tower, which is dated by successive bequests to the very eve of the Reformation - and then beyond, because Pevsner notes one Thomas Secker leaving money in 1547. Presumably the death of Henry VIII put an end to his hopes, and had the thought police of Edward VI knocking on his widow's door as he looked down from purgatory. Heartless times.

Well, I travel this road from time to time, and I shall keep stopping and rattling the door. If I find it open, I shall tell you more.

Simon Knott, September 2006

   

sun dial bell window two storey vestry


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