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St Mary, Stody
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However, St Mary has a great saving grace, and the simplicity of the interior offsets it very well, because here there is one of the best collections of 15th century stained glass figures in north Norfolk. They are set high in the lights of the north side windows, and in the east side of the south transept.
Broadly speaking, there are four different groups. Firstly, an unusual set of pairs of Kings and Prophets. These will be more familiar to many from the famous screen at Kersey in Suffolk. The juxtaposition of Kings and Prophets seems to have been a late medieval enthusiasm, often pairing historical English Kings with the Old Testament Prophets. Also in the lights on this side are the remains of a set of Apostles, and, most interesting perhaps, a Coronation of the Blessed Virgin, which was probably part of an extensive scheme of Marian images. Finally, in the transept is part of a set of female Saints. Some of the images are below; click on them to enlarge them.
The other old feature is a pretty Purbeck marble font, presumably of the 13th century, which sits on a collonade at the west end. I have often quoted Simon Jenkins' observation that the medieval parish churches of England constitute the world's finest folk museum, but St Mary feels more like an art gallery, with so much of the ancient dust of the past scraped away. Not much of a sense of tradition, perhaps, and rather hard to sense the long generations, but a fine setting for some beautiful jewels.
Simon Knott, December 2007
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