Bedingham Topcroft Woodton

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

St Margaret, Topcroft

Topcroft: sprawled in the winter mist

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unusual 18th century chancel face in the eaves South Norfolk austerity A tower and a face
St Margaret, Topcroft

Scattered around the main road village of Woodton are three churches in the fields, all of which are lovingly-kept and welcoming, being part of the splendid Hempnall group of parishes. St Margaret is, externally at least, the most beautiful of the three, with an elaborate octagonal crowning in two stages to the round tower base, the top one just like neighbouring Bedingham, and a super red-brick 18th century chancel. This is an unusual date at which to find such a large chancel, but the windows are Victorian, and so we may assume that a ruinous chancel was replaced because of the need of a suitable room, for a school perhaps.

There isn't quite as much exciting inside as there is in the other two, for the Victorian restoration here fell with a heavy hand, but they in their turn left points of interest, including the stencilling to the chancel and chancel arch, which used to be common but is now so very rare thanks to 'modern' taste in the 1950s and 1960s.

There a few good memorials - two in the chancel to James and John Smyth are apparently identical, but since my good friend DD pointed out to me that you often find that one is a later poor copy of the other by a local mason, I looked more closely, and this seems to be the case here.

Charity boards face across to hatchments, there are royal arms to George II, all in perfect, newly-restored condition. A modern sculture stands near the font, depicting the four seasons in a series of 12 elaborate wood blocks. A living building, then, and another sign of the love lavished here.

Simon Knott, March 2005

font George II royal arms hatchments and north door Bequest board
Looking east Memorial in chancel arch Beautiful Tractarian stencilling Smyth chancel memorials

modern art: the four seasons

Bedingham Topcroft Woodton

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