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

St Matthias, Thorpe next Haddiscoe

Thorpe next Haddiscoe - ancient and modern

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    St Matthias, Thorpe-next-Haddiscoe
Early, that tower   This thatched, round-towered church sits dramatically above the marshes, the river Yare and its tributaries winding lazily below. There is a grand farmhouse beside it, but otherwise we are remote from busy Haddiscoe, of which this Thorpe was a hamlet. The lower part of the tower appears to be Saxon, the chancel is an attractive rebuilding in red-brick, and the nave itself is tiny.

Unusually for churches in this part of Norfolk, the font is very old, late Norman, when so many others were replaced in the 15th century. It may be because this square Purbeck marble structure is plain and undecorated, apart from blank arcades - it breaks your heart to think that the others might have been replaced because they showed labours of the months or other apparently pagan imagery, which tended to be frowned on in the late 14th and 15th centuries when our ancestors were busy asserting the official doctrine of the Catholic Church.

This is a plain, simple church, rather dark on this winter day, but neat and well-kept. There are a couple of curiosities - the most extraordinary is just inside the south doorway, set in the west wall. Within a blind archway, two arched alcoves are set back into the wall, the right hand one with a shelf. I suppose that it must have been a cupboard of some kind, perhpas an aumbry, but I also recalled two smaller alcoves set into the eastern face of the arcade at Haddiscoe.

A little brass plate is in Latin, and its pre-Reformation inscription asks for prayers for someone's soul. As DD pointed out, it is interesting because the lettering is decorated with little scrolls and flicks - there are several brasses like this in the area, including the one under the carpet at Seething, presumably all the work of the same hand, and it may have been a way of adding character to a plate that was never intended to have an image associated with it.

Simon Knott, February 2005


12th century font Elaborate aumbry type thingy Sanctuary 17th century memorial 15th century inscription, elaborated

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