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

St Andrew, Sheringham

Sheringham St Andrew: the best 1960s church in Norfolk

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campanile mural

    St Andrew, Sheringham
baptistery and holy table   As I have said elsewhere, I am very fond of Sheringham. The town as it is today is a late 19th century development of the fishing village that sat at the bottom of the hill from what is now called Upper Sheringham.

To look at it on a map, it is easy to think of this as the western outpost of a straggle of conurbation drawing Sheringham, West Runton and Cromer all together. In fact, they are quite distinct places, each with its own character. Cromer is jolly and brash, West Runton rather suburban but with beautiful woods and a pretty coastline, while Sheringham is perhaps the most characterful place of all, with narrow lanes and little shops. It is the end of the railway line from Norwich now, although you can still take a steam train to Holt in season.

Sheringham is home to a very important early 20th century church, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's Catholic church of Our Lady and St Joseph. It sits on the top road to Cromer, and almost directly opposite is this fine, distinctive Methodist church, dedicated to St Andrew. It was built in 1968 to the design of Wally Thompson, a Methodist architect who was also responsible for Trinity Methodist at Lowestoft in Suffolk where he was a member of the congregation.

The main feature, of course, is that great campanile tower, familiar from other churches and schools of the period. I assume that it was intended for a bell, although it now appears to be empty. It doesn't detract from the fine, bold south end of the buliding, which rises like the prow of a boat, tall central lights flanked by walls of shingle.

The main entrance is flanked by a vast, abstract mural. Again, this is typical of the period, but so many of these have now been whitewashed. How good that this one remains to speak of the confidence of the period. You step in to a curving corridor which leads to meeting rooms, and you cross into the body of the church itself.

If the exterior is bold and of its period, the interior is even more successful. A bright, light amphitheatre, slightly canted, faces towards a shingle wall backing the business end, with a gorgeous curved coloured window, again of abstract design, enfolding the font and forming a baptistery. Yellow brick walls flank the auditorium, and a banner recalls that this splendid building replaced two 19th century Methodist chapels on Station Road and Beeston Road.


Simon Knott, July 2006

 towards the south-east corner towards the north-east corner

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