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

St Mary, Sedgeford

Sedgeford: ungainly and delightful

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    St Mary, Sedgeford
Continental Holy Trinity   Sometimes, when you are out visiting churches, you get towards the end of the day and you know that you aren't doing them justice. St Mary was our 22nd church of the day, and to be honest fatigue was setting in.The church was locked, and we had to find a key, but there was something about the building which told me as soon as I saw it that I was going to like it.

Sedgeford is one of those surprisingly secluded villages not far from the Wash, with busy Hunstanton and Sandringham just over the hill. Many East Anglian churches are at the highest point in their parishes, which isn't saying a lot, but this big church is down in a dip in the valley below the road, and you would never notice it unless you were deliberately looking for it. The nave seems vast with those great clerestory windows, and the round tower appears to grow out of it, the aisles extending westwards to wrap around it.

One of the most terrifying things I 'd seen in a long time is the memorial gate. It remembers twenty people who died in a typhoid outbreak in this tiny parish in the mid-19th century. If such a thing happened in a western European village today, it would be headline news around the world.

We stepped inside to a deliciously ramshackle and uneven interior. I do like churches like this, and it was the perfect way to end the day. I'll always remember it. There are low aisles lit by beautiful clear glass, and the south aisle becomes a kind of transept. The square Norman font on its pillars is older than the church, and is built up beautifully on a series of platforms. Tiny as it is, it dominates the east end.

There are very few wall paintings in this part of Norfolk, but St Mary has several, including the remains of a St Christopher high on the south aisle wall. Others seem to be patterns and borders; it is hard to make anything out. Green damp speckles the floors and font delightfully, but as you walk eastwards the building seems to become more civilised, tamed by late 19th and early 20th century glass of the highest quality. The best appears to be by Frederick Preedy, who was also busy at nearby Ingoldisthorpe, and led a restrained and caring restoration here at Sedgeford.

The best is a magnificent Transfiguration scene, Moses and Elijah flanking Christ, with the host of angels looking on. No wonder the disciples hid their heads. There is also a nice rosary sequence, with a particularly lovely Annunciation.

Angels seem to have been popular here, because there are also some wonderful angel musicians by several different artists. And yet another window contains an assemblage of 14th and 15th century glass. The older glass is very dirty, and difficult to make out, but was probably installed here when the current chancel was new, and has been here ever since.

  south aisle and transept

Simon Knott, September 2006

tower growing out of the nave looking east Sanctuary with Sarum screen looking west St Christopher 
Risen Christ with Mary and John - Powell's of Whitefriars 14th and 15th century glass angel musicians - Powell's of Whitefriars angel musicians - Powell's of Whitefriars Annunciation - Frederick Preedy
Visitation - Frederick Preedy Transfiguration: Moses Transfiguration: Christ Transfiguration: Elijah Nativity - Frederick Preedy
candelabra Presentation in the Temple - Frederick Preedy  

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