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

All Saints, Winterton

Winterton: magnificent tower (click to enlarge)

Read the captions by hovering over the images, and click on them to see them enlarged.
rising through no less than seven levels Sir John Falstoffe's porch

    Holy Trinity and All Saints, Winterton
a landmark   Seen from the top of the tower of Martham church, Winterton tower appears a magnificent, late Perpendicular structure, rising through no less than seven levels and poised dramatically between the whirling white arms of the four biggest turbines of the Somerton wind farm. Because there are no aisles, the church itself disappears behind it, so that if you did not know you might think that it served the purpose of a lighthouse or a beacon.

In a sense, it does. Holy Trinity is one of several churches along this coast whose towers were intended and maintained to serve as a landmark from the sea, and while several of them have similarly magnificent churches against them, most don't.

Winterton church is a fair size, as long as the tower is tall, but it is the later castellation of the nave and chancel that lends it an air of grandness rather than anything else.Apart from the south porch, what you see is almost entirely Victorian, and the 1870s work of Diocesan architect Herbert Green. A hit and miss architect who was more miss than hit, Green was also responsible for nearby Burgh St Margaret, and you can read about him there. I've said enough.

The porch, though, is well worth a second look. Somewhat eroded by half a millennium of sea air, the arms are still identifiable as those of Sir John Falstoffe of Caister Castle, and if you look closely you can just make out a carved inscription in the stone. He died in 1459, and this probably dates the porch. The sea of graves around the church is also worth exploring. As you'd expect, a number of them are to people drowned at sea, or killed in accidents on boats. One, to two brothers aged 14 and 15, is particularly heartbreaking. How do parents get over anything like that?

Knowing that Green was responsible for the rebuilding, you might not bother, but I was glad we did, because this is a pleasant interior that is still very much in the highest Anglo-catholic tradition.There is still the bleakness of Green's stamp; but in the century and a bit since, the parish have made the building their own by decorating it in a devotional style, but simply, not loudly, as if on a budget, bit by bit. The north side of the church is dedicated to St Nicholas, the sailors' Saint, and there are images of him in a little chapel here, and also on a poignant memorial at the west end of the aisle. It is in Proud and Loving Memory of Clarence Albert Pratt Porter, Rector of this Parish and it records that he gave his life rescuing one of the choirboys from drowning on Winterton beach, July 7th 1932. He was just 47 years old.

St Nicholas in Proud and Loving Memory of Clarence Albert Pratt Porter St Nicholas devotional style

The west end of the nave includes the fisherman's corner, because 'everything here has been to sea'. Piled up like this, it has the air of a junkshop in a small French provincial town, which gives it an extra poignancy. Part of the assemblage is a WWI Flanders cross that once marked the grave of Lieutenant A T Green.

Not far off is the only real medieval survival here, a tiny brass inscription to a member of the Keyman family, dated 1525. However, the parish has been in the news just recently because of two other memorials.

Shortly before our visit, two 18th century monuments had been removed from the north wall of the chancel, and are now lying on the chancel floor. They are large objects, but the parish has gone out of its way to try and have them reset. They've been quoted a price of 20,000, and there is no grant aid available for work like this. They've tried to contact descendants of the two men in question, but to no avail.

  quietly devotional

It is laughable to think that the three dozen or so people in the regular congregation here could possibly raise this money to have these two relatively unimportant memorials put back on the wall, even if they wanted to. If you are fabulously rich, possibly American, and your ancestors came from Winterton, it might be worth contacting the parish to see if they are yours. Otherwise, these touchstones down the long generations may soon become hard core for road surfacing.

Simon Knott, March 2006, updated July 2006


looking east simple high altar 19th century font looking west Keyman brass, 1525
memorial fishermen's corner  Greens (no relation) lost on the beach memorial

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