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All Saints, South Pickenham
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Saints, South Pickenham
There are idiosyncracies to the building, a fat little chimney on the north side of the nave, a nave roof that feels like opening wings behind the steepness of the chancel roof. There was a major restoration here in the first decade of the 20th century, a date which coincides with the building of the adjacent Hall. Pevsner tells us that Pickenham Hall was built in an Arts and Crafts style by the architect Robert Weir Schultz, and perhaps he was responsible for what happened here too. The nave roof is very unusual, the braces hanging beneath the beams before rising to lift the roof, a very whimsical effect. The wall plate appears earlier, but may be a clever Edwardian medievalism.
The interior has an intensely rural feel, simple furnishings doing the jobs they've done for generations, and this would be little more than a charming rural space if it not for the fact that it contains one of the great East Anglian art treasures of the 19th century. This is the organ which Augustus Pugin built for West Tofts, his rural masterpiece, now marooned within the British Army's battle training area, inaccessible to the general public. It is an extraordinary sight in the gallery here, where you might expect to see the village band or perhaps a crowd of workhouse children. The wings open out to show images of the Nativity and the Adoration of the Magi, and the keyboards still play a fine note. The organ was moved here in the 1950s.
There is a 15th century wall painting of St Christopher, rare in this part of Norfolk, and a gorgeous piscina and font, full of 14th century flair. The greenish lozenges in the east window are not good, but do not detract from the beautiful silence here, a space which is a complete contrast with its urban, sophisticated sister across the fields at North Pickenham
Simon Knott, May 2007
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