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St John, Waxham
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Even without the church, there is a feeling that this is an ancient place. Waxham Hall, next door, was the home of the Woodhouses and then the Calthorpes, and in the late 16th century the first of these two families built the massive Waxham Great Barn, the village's most famous building. It is the biggest barn in East Anglia, and was probably intended as such to compete with the Paston Great Barn further up the coast, a show of conspicuous consumption. It is a grade I listed building, and you can visit it.
On this day in high summer, the church floated like a ship in the dusty graveyard, and the roads all around were clogged with holidaymakers' cars, parked here so that they could walk across the dunes to the beach below. And, despite its ancient buildings, Waxham does feel as if it is tenuous, and on the edge; the soil is sandy, and beyond the slight village the land dissolves into a rolling greenness intercut with drains, the sea wall beyond.
The chancel here was derelict shortly after the Reformation, and the tower looks as if it had intentions of going the same way. The relief is weathered, the features eroded, and the west window long since filled in with red bricks which are themselves beginning to erode and fade.
Simon Knott, August 2006
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