home I index I latest I glossary I introductions I e-mail I about this site
St Martin, Shotesham
the captions by hovering over the images, and click on them to
see them enlarged.
Even if nothing has survived of a building so early, it is obvious that most of East Anglia's churches must have been where they are for a thousand years and more, gradually being reshaped, rebuilt, reinvented, and, for some of them, eventually ruined. And yet, ten years can make a difference, even to a ruin. Here we are in the rich green valleys to the south of Norwich, which are full of hidden folds and quiet villages which seem content to hide in them. Shotesham is one, but in early medieval days it was prosperous enough to have four manors, each with its own church. All Saints and St Mary survive to this day. St Botolph, a mile off, is no more than lumps and bumps in the ground, but St Martin is a rather more substantial and handsome ruin, sitting a hundred yards or so to the south of St Mary.
A village with four medieval churches cannot possibly have needed them all once the Reformation came along, with its new emphasis on congregational worship over sacramental devotion. That two of the churches survived in use beyond the 16th Century would suggest that the population of Shotesham was sufficient to support them both, but two had to go, and one of them was St Martin. The church must simply have been abandoned, the roof removed for buildings elsewhere. When I came here in 2006 the remains were covered liberally with elder and ivy. Five hundred years ago the two churches would have looked like twin ships floating side by side in the green fields, but St Martin had become a green ghost of its companion, and had been so for several centuries.
It was a day in late September,
still warm, but the weather was beginning its annual
downturn. I walked across from St Mary, crossing the
sunken road to Stoke Holy Cross and then up the bank on
the other side, but at first I found the ruin of St
Martin inpenetrable. Set on a mound, a fence guarded the
approach which was in any case blocked by nettles and
brambles. However, coming around to the west end beneath
the tower I found a large sign proclaiming DANGER KEEP
OUT. Assuming that such a sign was only necessary because
access was possible here, I climbed up under the trees
and found myself in the tree-shrouded former graveyard of
Simon Knott, August 2016
As the church was when I visited in September 2006:
Amazon commission helps cover the running costs of this site.
home I index I latest I introductions I e-mail I about this site I glossary
Norwich I ruined churches I desktop backgrounds I round tower churches
links I small print I www.simonknott.co.uk I www.suffolkchurches.co.uk