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Norfolk – 6th August 2012

August 10, 2012

Norfolk part 1

Setting out from Suffolk I very soon entered Norfolk, a county with a wide variety of churches, some of them amongst the finest to be found anywhere. I started at-

The Minster and Priory church of St. Nicholas, Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmoutn Minster

Quite title but then this is quite a church. It is reckoned to be the largest parish church in England. That I can well believe. When you walk inside it has a definite wow factor simply because it is so vast. There is much to see here and they have tried hard to make it an interesting place for visitors. But lets start at the beginning. It is open every day and the signs make this both plain and give a good welcome. There is even a sign which says ‘Children welcome.’ There is a coffee shop and a small shop selling guides, cards, jewelery and histories. There are also some children’s books for sale. There are some multi lingual laminated cards to take around with you. Only 3 people had signed the visitors book but it wasn’t in a very obvious place and there were several visitor around when I was there. There are several votive stands to use. In addition, there is a labyrinth laid out on the floor with some prayer stations to use.

Labyrinth at Great Yarmouth Minster

A leaflet explains what this is all about. There is also a folder all about the 1953 floods which are a significant part of Great Yarmouth’s history. There is a display also on the severe damage inflicted upon the church during World War II and how it nearly wasn’t rebuilt. There are some laminated posters to explain the significance of various parts of the church. All in all a very interesting place to visit and I would give it a very good rating.

Then onto the nearby church of

Holy Trinity, Caister on Sea

Holy Trinity, Caister on Sea

Another good church to visit. Inside it is a bit gloomy – it could do with a light or two left on. The signs make it very clear that the church is open each day for prayer. There are guide books, cookbooks, poems, pens, postcards and note lets for sale. Also some Mark’s gospels. A good range. Only 4 people had signed the book which is a bit of a surprise.

Holy Trinity, Caister on Sea

The Lady Chapel is set aside for prayer and there are various prayer books and booklets around to use. This really is a lovely, well cared for church and I would rate it as good.

Holy Trinity & All Saints, Winterton on Sea

Winterton on Sea

This church has a huge tower which is a landmark for miles around. It is open for visitors and the sign outside says ‘Welcome’. There is again much to see here. There is a guide book and a leaflet about a noted former Rector. Talking of which, there is also a memorial on the wall to a Rector who died saving one of his choirboys from drowning.

Memorial to drowned Vicar

Very unusual and very poignant. There is also marmalade for sale (not sampled!). A prayer board can be used, as can a votive stand. The visitor is made aware of the presence of the sea nearby. There is a crucifix, ,made from ship’s timbers and this is displayed with some fishing boat lights. Several memorials mention people lost at sea. 25 visitors in the book in the last month. I rate this as a good church for the visitor.

St. Catherine’s, Ludham

St. Catherine’s, Ludham

I had been recommended this church and I can see why. They have put much effort into welcoming visitors. There is a large sign outside which clearly welcomes people. It says that the church is open every day. There was a friendly and knowledgeable steward who was enthusiastic about her church. There are a range of leaflets etc available. Some are free, including a simple guide which is a nicely produced coloured leaflet which helps to explain what the church is about – very good. There is a ‘Science trail’ or children which is again nicely produced and not patronising as so many children’s leaflets in churches can be. There is a prayer tree, open Bible and a votive stand too use. There is a large display on the history of Norfolk churches, which is again very well produced. This church is a ‘gateway church’ to point towards other Broadland churches.

Interior of St. Catherine’s, Ludham

St. Apollinaria, patron saint of Dentists

There is another thing that sets St. Catherine’s apart. Someone has produced a folder entitled ‘Notes for a pilgrim’. It is a set of meditations on the Christian faith and this is set up around the church. It is really thought provoking. Children are catered for by an area for them and there is an ‘Draw and colour an Angel’ competition going on. When I was there two children were busy doing just that. Some simple leaflets explain ‘What Do Christian’s Believe?’, ’Learn to Pray’ and ‘Praying the Bible’. I would rate this church as excellent. It shows just what a small village community can do with a bit of imagination. Go and have a look!

St. Michael & All Angels, Barton Turf

Interior of St. Michael and All Angels, Barton Turf

This church features in ‘1000 Best Churches’, and I can see why. It is a lovely church to visit. Next door is a strange MOD site which I would love to know more about! The church is open. The sign outside is basic and doesn’t give any opening details. There is a good welcome notice in the church. There is a free guide and some free small cards, as well as bigger guides and cards for sale. There are also jams for sale. A children’s area is set up with colouring. There were 19 people in the visitors book in the last month. In addition there is a roll of honour for those who died in the world wars.

Barton Turf

This is something I have seen quite a bit of and does seem like a very good idea. This one even has some letters from the front – very moving. There are some parish history notes and details of the magnificent rood screen here. A prayer tree and a prayer area are available and the Bible has been left open. The altar and the credence table have been labelled as to their significance. A small library is available. I would rate this church as good.

St. Mary the Virgin, Worstead

Worstead

A simply huge church for such a small place. It is open. It must be a real struggle to keep this in good order but it is well cared for. The sign outside doesn’t give much away and the visitor enters through the priest’s door into the chancel. There is guide to buy and a loom set up reminds us of this villages’s claim to fame. There are some moving photos of the village war dead. A stark reminder of how much anguish war must always cause. A votive stand can be used. One feature that caught my eye was a very tall ladder in a single piece.

Worstead interior – note the ladder on the left!

I would certainly not want to climb a 30 + feet wooden ladder! This really is a magnificent church. I rate it as good +.

St. Michael & All Angels, Aylsham

Welcome at St. Michael and All Angels, Aylsham

Aylsham is a quaint little town and St. Michael’s stands just off the Market Place. The signs are good and welcome in the visitor. Again, you enter through the priest’s door. There is much of interest here and a lot of thought has gone into the welcome. There are guides and cards, postcards, some leaflets on faith and some gospels. A simple free guide helps you to gain more from your visit and also reminds the visitor of what the church exists for.

Aylsham

There are prayer cards, both to use for praying and to take away. These latter ones are very nice –

‘Lord, thank you…

for your presence here….

for the opportunity to pray,

for the promise of peace,

for the beauty of the world,

for the kindness of people…

for all those I love…

for your love for me

and especially for…

The cross of Jesus

and the power of the Spirit’

Children have an A4 sheet drawn in a cartoon style, an ABC of St.Michael & All Angels. Simple and very well done. Interpretation boards, ‘Exploring the Christian Faith’ are used on the font, altar etc. There is also a folder of photos of children’s activities.

I rate this church as very good.

St. Agnes, Cawston

St. Agnes, Cawston

Another church from ‘1000 Best Churches’. It is open although the signs don’t really tell you that! There is plenty to see here. A guide is available as well as a village history. There are cookbooks, posters, tea towels, pens, pencils, note lets and post cards. Also, one or two leaflets about the Christian faith. Bible activity books for children. This is an impressive church with a wonderful rood screen.

Cawston

I would rate it as good +. With a little bit of effort it could be very good. Only 6 visitors in the book since 16th July as it is new one.

St. Peter & St. Paul, Salle

St. Peter & St. Paul, Salle

1000 Best Churches gives this 4 stars. What a wonderful church. Again this huge building sits in a tiny village of less than 500 population. This is one of the very finest churches in Norfolk. There is a good welcome notice at the door. This church must get many, many visitors but only 40 of them had signed the visitors book in the last month. There is a guide to buy some cards and a parish map. Nothing for children though. A folder details all the inscriptions on the memorials in the churchyard. A good thing for visitors tracing family trees. There is a chapel set apart for prayer. There are some great wood carvings here.

Salle

Misericorde figure at Salle

A must visit church with it’s own austere beauty. I rate it as good.

St. Peter & St. Paul, Heydon

St. Peter & St. Paul, Heydon

Another fine church in another tiny village. It is open to receive you and you will find a guide and some prayer cards. There is an unusual and simple hand written ‘A Church Guide for Young People’. It is nothing clever but it is rather good.

Interior at Heydon

There are some displays of history here as well. 18 in the visitors book in a month – not bad for a church well off the beaten track. Do have a look, you won’t be disappointed. I rate it as OK.

As I left here there was a crack off thunder a few spots of rain so I hurried along to nearby

St. Andrew’s, Thurning

A stormy St. Andrew’s, Thurning

Just as I got there a sharp shower came along. I was glad to get inside this delightful country church. It is quite dark inside and it took a couple of minutes to be able to see it all properly. The storm didn’t help but a light would be a good idea! The sign outside is very basic. There is a guide and some of the excellent Fr John Woolley booklets to take. 15 people in the book (the visitors book not the Lambs book of life fortunately). There are box pews here, labeled up for the different families who lived in the village. Also, a row off hat pegs on the south wall. It is like walking back in time coming in here.

Interior at Thurning

There is even a three decker pulpit. A very old fashioned interior but it has real character and is worth a visit. would rate it as OK for the visitor.

Fortunately the storm had passed so on to-

St. Andrew’s, Little Snoring

St. Andrew’s, Little Snoring

An unusual little church, just outside the village, with a detached round tower. Apparently this was part of an earlier church and the new one was built slightly to the north but they left the tower. All very strange. This church was used by the RAF in 1944 and 1945 and features a set of boards at the back giving a list of victories and also honours and awards form the nearby airfield. I have never seen this in another church.

Simplicity at Little Snoring

There is a guide and some note lets and a poem about the airfield. 46 visitors had signed the book in the last month. There are second hand books for sale. This is a simple, plain little country church which is well worth a visit. I rate it as OK.

Lastly today

St. Mary, Little Walsingham

St. Mary and All Saints, Little Walsingham

Walsingham is a special and rather bizarre place. Thousands of pilgrims flock here and it does have a unique atmosphere. This is a delightful church to visit. It is always open. There is a good welcome notice in the porch and a light comes on when you walk inside. There is a good range of prayer cards and a few leaflets and booklets about the faith as well as a guide and a book about the disasterous fire here in 1961 which virtually destroyed the church. It has been, necessarily, much rebuilt and is now spotlessly clean and obviously well loved. It has a special atmosphere about it. There is series of Assumuptsiontide lectures to buy and an envelope containing the 6 guides on the benefice churches. That is a good idea to get people to visit them all. 3 votive stands are available and all were in use. There is a Lady Chapel for quiet prayer and a prayer book to add prayers in. 26 visitors in the last month by the book. Well worth a visit. I rate this as good +.

Lady Chapel at Little Walsingham

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