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

St Nicholas, Twyford

Read the captions by hovering over the images, and click on them to see them enlarged.
notice me west end - that gable is curious, where did the window come form? a long extended Norman church a porch becomes a tower

    St Nicholas, Twyford
bellcote   St Nicholas is bang on the main Norwich to Fakenham road, but the hedges screen it so effectively from the roaring traffic that you would not even know it was there unless you thought to look. As the Church of England retreats from public view, this is exactly the kind of church that I expect to come back to in thirty years time and find surrounded by high brambles, as if it was Sleeping Beauty's castle.

This church is kept locked, and so it is now longer used for anything other than the worship of the declining congregation, and the hatches, matches and dispatches - but there won't be many of those - that are the modern core business of CofE PLC.

That said, when I rang up to ask to borrow a key, the man who answered the phone was extremely friendly and welcoming. He even offered to bring the key to the church rather than me go and get it, because, as he explained, by the time he told me how to get there, he could be at the church himself.

About sixty East Anglian churches have towers on the south side. This is one of them, but curiously it is a post-Reformation red brick tower of the 18th century, and I cannot think of another 18th century south tower. Presumably it was built onto the site of a porch. I don't think there was ever a medieval south tower here; indeed, there is circumstantial evidence that there was once a west tower. The top of the current tower has a bellcote on top. It is extremely attractive.

I had been wanting to visit this church for some time for Carol Myers, who produces the wholly excellent St Nicholas site, which includes a gazeteer to every church in the world dedicated to St Nicholas. One of the fun things about taking photos for the St Nicholas site is finding references to the Saint inside the church, perhaps kitschy objects that you wouldn't normally photograph - but there was nothing like that here.

  suffer the children to come unto me

This is a simple, homely, Norfolk village church, obviously once a Norman church but extended eastwards without a break, so there is no chancel arch. It reminded me a bit of Themelthorpe, a few miles off, but Themelthorpe feels a much more lively church than this one.

There is a big square font on pillars, presumably from the 12th century, and an attractive alabaster reredos. The remains of the screen are pretty. The early 20th century glass in the windows is not major, but the lancet containing an image of Christ crowning St George (yes, really), is worth a second glance.

And at last I found a piece of St Nicholas ephemera - Twyford has a display board, hidden at the back of the church, which has a map on it, and the map pinpoints every single church in the county dedicated to St Nicholas. I took it out, dusted it down, and put it back on display. A curious find indeed.

Simon Knott, July 2006


looking east alabaster reredos east window memorial on the font cover
sanctuary Christ crowning St George processional cross entrance font remarkably, a smattering of 15th century glass
rood screen here you go, Carol, something weird...

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