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St Edmund, Swanton Novers
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Edmund, Swanton Novers
Swanton Novers was an estate village for Melton Constable Hall, and not even the coming of the railways that turned Melton Constable upside down in the 19th century could shake Swanton Novers out of its feudal sleepiness. The hills and woodlands encroach; the only sound is the impatient calling of the sheep in the pastures. The narrow lane from the village twists and dips, and, just before it turns into a sandy track, there is St Edmund. It really feels as if you might fall off the edge of Norfolk if you go any further. The graveyard is long, opening to the east where there is a curious little 19th century red-brick structure with ecclesiological features.
If the exterior of St Edmund is a little characterless, this is because the body of the church was rebuilt in the 19th century, and the tower was rebuilt as recently as 1961 (apparently, locals used to say that one good kick and it would have come down). There was a discussion at the time about abandoning St Edmund, and building a new church up in the village, but this never happened. There are features in the exterior of the church, notably the north doorway, that are also plainly 20th century, so perhaps it was more than the tower that needed replacing. There is, however, a 15th century image niche set in the west wall of the tower - is it in its original place? Or has it been reset there?
Simon Knott, November 2005
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