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All Saints, Skeyton
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This resolved itself into the top few metres of the uncrenellated tower, and then I was climbing the ridge, the church rising lonely on the plateau beyond. For the first time, a chilly east wind caught me, and even in the sunshine I could tell that this would be a bleak spot in winter. PH Ditchfield, in his Edwardian celebration The Parish Clerk, recalls a Mr Stracey Clitherow, who, when he went to his first curacy at Skeyton in 1845, found the clerk sweeping the whole chancel clear of snow which had fallen through the roof. A farmhouse keeps the church company, but otherwise there is nothing for miles.
You can see at a glance that this is an ancient building on an ancient site. The west end of the 12th century nave is helpfully delineated in brown carstone, and the lower part of the tower is probably the same age. The buttressing and big windows of the nave make it look bigger than it is. Curiously, the tower is actually set at the south end of the nave west wall, and I am guessing that a north aisle was absorbed at some point. There was never a separate chancel, so the Victorian tracery in the centralised east window might suggest that this was when it happened, although this assumes that the aisle extended right to the east end. Puzzling.
The double doors in the porch looked rather forbidding, and I was sure the church would be locked; but they opened, and inside the porch I found that the grill was also unlocked across the inner door. I pulled it back, and tried the handle doubtfully; but it turned, and I stepped down into the cool interior.
Already on this site I have mentioned 'bread and butter' churches, the ordinary parish buildings that serve their purpose and have done so for hundreds of years, but are otherwise unremarkable. All Saints is certainly that. When Stracey Clitherow came to Skeyton in the 1840s, not only did he find the chancel in ruins, but the font was of wood, painted orange and red... the singers sat within the altar rails with a desk for their books within the rails. But change was coming. All Saints is now, pretty much, a Victorian church inside. A radical restoration, with plain, simple furnishings; the benches, the font cover, the sanctuary, the tiled floor, all are 19th century; the cast iron royal arms are interesting, but in general it feels a fairly plain, sparse kind of place.
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