home I index I latest I glossary I introductions I e-mail I about this site

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

All Saints, Stanhoe


Follow these journeys as they happen at Last Of England Twitter.


All Saints, Stanhoe

Here in East Anglia we are used to being only a couple of miles from the next village with its parish church, but Docking and Stanhoe sit together somewhat remotely in north Norfolk below the heathland that rises and falls to the coast. Docking is the larger village, and although Stanhoe is set on the busy Kings Lynn to Burnham Market road it is the prettier place. The church sits just to the east of the road and you have to go through someone's front garden to reach it, a situation more common in Suffolk than it is in Norfolk.

Also more common in Suffolk than in Norfolk are towers set on the south side of the church. There are twenty-eight of them altogether, of which Norfolk has nine. Outside of East Anglia there are only three or four, so it was clearly a local fashion, and perhaps it was more than that. The towers were all built around 1300, and all except one are in parishes which at that time were navigable upriver from Ipswich and Norwich. This perhaps suggests the work of a single master mason based in one of those two places, and Ipswich seems more likely given that more of the towers are in Suffolk. The exception to the Norfolk parishes that might be reached from Norwich along the Yare and the Wensum is this one, Stanhoe. But in the early 14th Century it was easily reached up river from the coast at Burnham Overy, and, indeed, nearby Creake Abbey also had a south tower. Howard Stephens has pointed out that most of the dressing stone for these towers came from the East Midlands via the rivers Witham and Welland into the Wash, so it would be an easy matter for it to be directed downriver to Stanhoe.

The church seems generally to have been in its current shape in about 1300, and then there was a refurbishment in the 1470s. There was a substantial restoration in 1853 because of which, as Pevsner notes, the exterior has a crisp look, and then again in 1910. As usual the south tower doubles as a porch and you step into the west end of the nave. On this bright spring day it was darker inside than out, the sober benches imparting a sense of quiet gravitas. There seems to have been a certain amount of money locally in these late 19th Century decades, for Stanhoe church has a good collection of stained glass by some of the major 19th Century workshops of that time.

'he that overcometh'  (Henry Holiday, 1873) 'shall inherit all things' (Henry Holiday, 1873)
Mary Magdalene meets the Risen Christ/the angel at the empty tomb (Kempe & co, 1885) Tree of Jesse (Kempe & Co, 1879) Christ in Majesty (Kempe & Co, 1879) Scenes from the Life of Christ (Henry Hughes, 1859) angel musicians (Burlison & Grylls, 1879)
heraldic shields the angels appear to the shepherds (Ward & Hughes, 1880s) Adoration of the Shepherds (Henry Hughes, 1869) Christ flanked by Moses and Elijah (Kempe & Co, 1879) 'he that overcometh shall inherit all things' (Henry Holiday, 1873)

The best of the glass is on the south side of the chancel. Six angels hold a banner reading He that overcometh shall inherit all things in glass by Henry Holiday, designed when he was working for Powell & Sons in 1873. Two more angels, one blowing a trumpet and the other banging a drum, are by Burlison & Grylls from 1879. The same year brought the complex east window depicting a Tree of Jesse by Kempe & Co, a reminder of the quality of this workshop before they became formulaic later in the century. This drift begins to appear in the same workshop's depiction of Mary Magdalene meeting the Risen Christ in the Garden and the angel at the Empty Tomb of the mid-1880s, although there is still a narrative here rather than the stilted figures that became commonplace soon after.

A nearby window contains lovely, understated glass by Henry Hughes depicting scenes from the life of Christ in vignettes. This dates from the 1860s and I think it is the earliest glass here. Hughes would later go on to become part of the firm of Ward & Hughes, one of the workshops with the biggest output in the last decades of the 19th Century, and the window of the angels appearing to the shepherds here is of the 1880s, and is typical of their later mass-produced work once the firm had been taken over by Thomas Curtis. The sequence of roundels with heraldic shields in looks as i it might have been the work of Powell & Sons.

The furnishings are largely those of the 1853 restoration, which was early for the 19th Century. The font is the most imposing of these, and you can't help wondering what it replaced, and this date also brought the pulpit and communion rails. But there is one impressive 14th Century survival beyond the communion rails, and this is the combined set of piscina and sedilia on the south side of the chancel, as serviceable now as when they were built, despite the raising of the sanctuary floor in the 19th Century. There are a few memorials, none particularly imposing. Caroline Hoste died in 1827 and is remembered by a draped urn in relief, while the Everard brothers Henry and Benjamin, who both died in that decade have a memorial which seems a bit later. Benjamin was a cornet in the 16th Lancers and died at Cawnpore, East Indies. Their memorial features a relief of nicely carved chalice, wheat and grapes on a book and the legend Vive Memor Lethi. James Vincent was many years a Captain in the 62 Regiment of Foot, and died in 1814. best of all is the elegant oval of 1919 to Horatia Anne Seymour, its border edged in a floral wreath.

Simon Knott, May 2022

Follow these journeys as they happen at Last Of England Twitter.

looking east chancel sanctuary
font piscina and sedilia Horatia Anne Seymour, 1919
many years a Captn in the 62 Regt of Foot, 1814 died at Cawnpore in the East Indies affectionate and deeply afflicted

The Stanhoe dead The Stanhoe dead


The Churches of East Anglia websites are non-profit-making, but if you enjoy using them and find them useful, a small contribution towards the cost of web space, train fares and the like would be most gratefully received. You can donate via Paypal.


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

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