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

All Saints, Stanford

Silence at the heart of a lost world.

Read the captions by hovering over the images, and click on them to see them enlarged.
A steel roof guards against blast damage. 15th century bellstage tops Norman tower. From the north-west: entirely Victorianised.
The east end of the chancel. Looking west from the high altar. Looking south through the arcades. Chancel arch, 19th century rood and image brackets. Curious - the east end of the south aisle.
19th century corbel and stencilling in the chancel. The lean Norman tower arch. Plain font. Remains of naive 19th century glass. Annabella Mant, 1852

    All Saints, Stanford
Norfolk flint.   Stanford is at the very heart of the training area, and so far from civilisation that the silence in the air is stunning. I had not heard such a silence in England before. The sheep were fearless, inquisitive as we let ourselves into the churchyard; their lambs hid behind, chins tilted upwards as they watched. As at Tottington, the roofs are blast-proof panels rather than tiles, but this is so well done that you wouldn't know unless you looked carefully.

This is the only round-towered church in the training area, although there are several more just outside, including Threxton and Merton. Here, the Norman round part is surmounted by an octagonal belfry stage, as at nearby Breckles. It probably dates from the 15th century.

As I wandered about the graveyard, tiny spring rabbits bolted from beneath my feet. At first, this was startling, and then comical; they had never seen a human before, and so they waited until I was right on top of them before running for the scrub. I became wary lest I step on one, but I don't think they were ever in any real danger.

As at West Tofts, this church underwent a considerable 19th century restoration, but the difference here is that it seems to have been carried out by the Rector. You might even say that it was an amateur restoration. His is the chancel with its pastel murals, his the great rood, his even the painted glass in the north aisle window, which Pevsner thought worthy of mention, but which is mostly now lost. The arcades rest on elegant, fluted columns, and something very odd has happened at the east end of the south aisle, where a fomer archway appears to have been truncated by the eastern wall. Or was it begun and never finished? Curious.

Again, the roof tiles are stored here, but the benches are gone, the bells have gone. And yet this still feels as if it must have been a very warm and welcoming building, busy in the years of its restoration, and still a touchstone for generations.

Outside, Quantrills and Clarks, Rudds and Gathercoles. One Quantrill memorial has a very curious inset relief which must have been the height of fashion in the early 19th century. A badly eroded Gathercole memorial is profoundly evangelical: Weep not for us our children dear, because we die and leave you here. But look to Christ the crucified, that you may feel his blood applied.

Another for a Quantrill wife hopes that God shall wipe away all the tears from their eyes. All about, the silence continues.

Simon Knott, May 2004

you can also read an introduction to the churches of the Norfolk battle training area


Elizabeth and Robert Gathercole, 1880s. Susannah and Robert Quantrill, 1890s. Caroline and Charles Coates, 1890s. Robert Rudd, 1894.
William Quantrill, 1861, and two daughters 1846. Fred Clark, 1908. Hannah Thorpe, 1898. George Flatt, 1897

an introduction to the churches of the Norfolk battle training area



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