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St Peter, Weasenham
Just as Weasenham All Saints up the road was rebuilt for Low Church congregational worship, so this place celebrated the Anglo-catholic tradition, and to an extent continues to do so. And, just as the other church has one great medieval survival in the form of its rood screen, so St Peter has its own survivals in the form of 15th Century glass. There is a beautiful figure of St Margaret dispatching her dragon, and in the next window a Norwich school angel. They were both originally set in upper window lights, and are now surrounded by fragments of contemporary tabernacle work. There is no way of knowing, of course, if they came from this church originally.
Turning to the east, you meet the delight of a splendid window by William Warrington. It commemorates someone who died in 1849, but can it really be that early? It is full of exuberant colour and details, and if the date is right then it preempts much of the enthusiasms of the mid-century Ecclesiological Movement. The central subject is a crucifixion, the Blessed Virgin, Mary Salome and St John looking on grief-stricken and Mary Magdalene burying her face in her hands. The same figure of Mary Magdalene appears to the left, an unusual scene of her pouring oil onto Christ's feet while a po-faced Judas looks on. On the right, rather more awkwardly, Christ welcomes the children. Above, St Peter and St Paul in sentry box-like tabernacles look up to the Blessed Virgin and Child. it is remarkably early work for such Anglo-catholic themes in early Norfolk. Above, there are angels and a shield of the Holy Trinity. I think this window is really rather wonderful, and appears little-known.
Any doubts as to the Anglo-catholic sympathies here in the mid-20th Century may be allayed by stepping through the curtain that divides the south aisle from the nave. Here, the east window is another splendid creation, this time by Christopher Webb I think, depicting St George and St Michael flanking the Blessed Virgin and Child. Below is a deliciously carved and painted altar with figures representing the Annunciation, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Could it have been carved locally?
I was so pleased I'd seen inside and it was so lovely. For years, the Weasenham churches were a little black spot in this area of Norfolk where pretty much all the churches are open and welcoming, and being so close to the main road it would be nice to think that they will be able to attract visitors in the way that Newton by Castle Acre does on the same road a few miles to the south.
Simon Knott, October 2013
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