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St John, Terrington St John
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Terrington St John
Not far from the busy Lynn to Wisbech road, the land rises slightly and there is a gathering of trees breaking the dull suburban bleakness. St John's elegant 13th century tower rises above them, and if you approach from the west there is a beautiful nave west window beside it, pushing the tower to the end of the south aisle and turning its thinness into almost a campanile.
Inevitably, Terrington St John is a poor cousin to Terrington St Clement, but not without interest, including the extraordinary sequence of rooms built into the base of the tower and the west of the south aisle. They climb through four storeys, the top one being like a workmans hut in the roof of the aisle. They are supposed to be a priest house, which I suppose is as likely as anything else. Pevsner suggests that the tower was once separate from the church, and that this group of rooms linked them together. There is something similar nearby at Tilney All Saints, although there it is wholly internal. Seen close up, there is something almost industrial about it, as if it was a little mester's house and workshop on the banks of the Sheaf.
The clerestory is most unusual, being a sequence of alternating circular and arched windows. The cement rendering gives it rather a bleak feel, but there are lots of little details that leaven it, including a rood stair turret on the north side.
Inside, the church is full of light, the vast 18th century font looking like it might spring a fountain at any moment. Everything is clean and neat; Victorianised, but much of the feel is of the 20th century, with modern chairs and carpets, and simple, devotional fittings. I liked it a lot.
Simon Knott, July 2005
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