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Cecilia, West Bilney
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Cecilia, West Bilney
A small church in a secluded
churchyard, but we are right against the horrid A47 here
which forms the main street through several villages in
this part of west Norfolk. I had just taken my life in my
hands cycling along it from East Winch, and I was looking
forward to following the quiet lane that meanders off
south of the church when I'd finished here.
Bilneys are miles apart from each other, and can never
have had any connection other than that they were both
called Bilney. The prefix is probably a result of 19th
Century GPO bureaucracy, as a way of differentiating the
two post offices, neither of which survive today, of
Cecilia is a small church, and it is in shipshape
condition. However, this is the happy end of a
traumatic adventure, for the top of the tower was
wrecked in a storm in 1976. There was little
grant aid in those days, and the repairs were far
beyond the ability of the small congregation, so
the church was closed, and the people moved in
with East Winch up the road. In 1983 it was
decided to demolish the tower, but happily by
then we had begun to have a bit of care for our
old buildings, and eventually it was restored
thanks to help from the Norfolk Churches Trust.
The slightly odd east wall is a much earlier
repair job from the 18th century, when old
materials from the demolished chancel were used
to create a new east end.
remains redundant, although it appears to be in
some kind of regular use, which makes it all the
more annoying that the building is kept locked.
There is a keyholder notice, but it was so old
when I called that the farm that kept the key was
no longer a farm. A passing cheery postman
pointed me in the direction of where he thought
the keyholder lived now (first house on the left
in the direction of Pentney, if you're
interested) but there was nobody in, which was a
pity as I'd have liked to have seen inside.
Knott, August 2016
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