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Our Lady of Pity, Swaffham
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of Pity, Swaffham
At Ecotech, to the north of Swaffham, you can actually go up one of the turbines to a viewing platform. This would obviously be an exciting prospect, so much so that on the road out there you might not notice, as you passed it, this rather anonymous little red-brick Catholic church. You might more likely notice the huge, dour Baptist church immediately across the road, an uncomfortable juxtaposition, especially if you have just come from the harmonious market place.
Our Lady of Pity is built in that institutional style of the late 1950s, with tall arched windows punctuating red brick walls under a high pitched roof. Actually, there is rather more to it than that; the style echoes Norfolk medieval vernacular, with the large windows creating a walls of glass effect when seen from inside, and the red brick buttressing creating a sense of substance. An idiosyncracy, the first of several, is the quotation carved into the steps that lead to the west door.
You enter a narthex porch, with a spiral staircase to a gallery, and walls of glass fill the arches which lead into the nave itself.
I do not think I have been in another modern church which is so full of light as this one, and the view west from the high altar is beautiful and elegant, the high pitch of the roof softened by a coved ceiling, and the arches picked out in red brick beneath the gallery. I thought it was delightful.
Simon Knott, October 2006
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