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All Saints, Scottow
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The interior is curiously gloomy, given how big the windows are and how they are full of clear glass. But some if this might be put down to the overwhelmingly 17th century nature of the internal furnishings, from the delightful dolphins twisting on the font cover to quite the most baroque organ case I have ever seen outside of France. In fact, it would not surprise me to discover that it is not an organ case at all, but wall panelling from another building brought here and bolted on. As I looked around, it did occur to me that much of the Jacobean character may well have been installed later by a collector.
There are no less than ten hatchments lining the walls high above the east end, frowning down on all the dark woodwork. There are medieval survivals; part of a St Christopher still bestrides the north arcade, the fish circling the Saints feet rather glumly, and no wonder, for a sea monster is gobbling them up on the right hand side. The Saint's head and the Christ child are gone, although I take this to be iconoclasm or the wear and tear of centuries rather than anything to do with the sea monster. A post-reformation 'goodly text' can be seen further west along the same wall.
In the porch is as fine a green man boss as I have seen in Norfolk so far. In the south aisle there is a chalice brass, for a Priest during this church's Catholic days. And, most precious of all, a perfect medieval altar mensa preserved in a case in the chancel as a memorial.
CofE ministers get uppity, and sometimes with good cause, when their churches are treated as museums. But, in addition to their everyday uses, that is exactly what most of them are. Scottow is more museum-like than most; but I tend to think of churches as folk museums, as giving us a touchstone back down the generations. Scottow does that too, but it is rather more than that; it is a building of interesting artefacts, of curiosa, a place to look and touch, and to feel the presence of the past resonating.
One final curiosity. The church has two sets of royal arms. This is not in itself that unusual, but they are both unusual forms. One, in the south aisle, is a vast set for William and Mary. The other, above the south doorway is to Elizabeth II - now there's something you don't see every day.
Simon Knott, May 2005
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