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Norfolk – 9th August 2012

August 10, 2012

St. Peter, Great Walsingham

Great Walsingham

This large church sits on the edge of the village, not to be confused with it’s more famous neighbour. It is open every day but there appear to be no signs at all. Inside, there is a guide book and some postcards. There is the set of guides for the 6 churches in this group (see entry for Little Walsingham). Some 21 people had signed the visitors book in the last month. This is a church of real character and worth seeking out, you can see an ancient poor box and some lovely wood carvings. It is a pity that a bit more effort hasn’t gone into attracting and welcoming those who do come. I have to rate this as just about Okay but would like to see this improve. Given that this is such an impressive church, just down the road from a major Christian pilgrimage site, so much more could be done with just a little bit of thought and effort.

All Saints, Waterden

The only problem with this church is finding it. The postcode sends you to a nearby farm. The church is down the hill from that. What the visitor is looking for is a gap in the hedge and a grass path from that that leads down to All Saints. A sign would be nice! Anyway, it is well worth seeking out. This is a real gem of a church. Tiny, simple, unmessed about with. It has a really holy and peaceful atmosphere. For the visitor there is a simple guide and a registers folder giving details of old family records. Unfortunately someone has stolen the box which money went into! I personally rate this church very highly but for the purpose of this study I have to rate it as poor. It would be a great place to lead a quiet day.

St. Peter & St. Paul, Fakenham

A busy Fakenham church

A real contrast to the last entry in all sorts of ways. This large church sits just off the Market place in the centre of the town. It was market day and everywhere was busy, including St. Peter & St. Paul’s. Refreshments were being served in the church and there was a book and bric a brack sale on . It was good to see lots of people inside. There is a small book shop with a decent selection of items, including some prayer cards also a paddle board to take around. There didn’t seem to be a guide book but these may have been cleared away. There is a prayer corner with a harrowing story about a young boy who disappeared many years ago and has never been found. There is a votive stand to use.

I rate this as good for the visitor.

St. Margaret, Kings Lynn

Kings Lynn Minster

Kings Lynn has two distinctive smells about it. There is that rich smell of damp earth to remind us that we are at the edge of the Fens – the smell of fertility. Then there is the smell of pine wood near the docks. Kings Lynn is a major port for the importation of timber.

A very large church in this ancient port. It’s full name is ‘The Priory Church of St. Margaret of Antioch, St. Mary Magdalene and all the Virgin Saints.’ Perhaps not surprisingly it is usually referred to as simply Kings Lynn Minster. The signs outside are very good and welcome the visitor inside. The first thing the visitor sees is a display about prayer, much better than a begging notice and it does emphasise that this is a living church community. There is also a lovely prayer chapel with a stunning votive stand in the form of large globe.

Prayer globe at Kings Lynn

There is another quiet chapel to use as well. There are various guide books and leaflets and also post cards and some paddle boards to take around with you. Children can buy ‘Look at the Church of England’, one the the Bessercar print leaflets. Are they still produced? Children also have an area which features the Olympics and pray for other countries. Yet more used books on sale – don’t seem to be able to get away from these. 88 people had signed in in the last month so this church must get a good number of visitors. I rate this as very good.

St. Lawrence, Castle Rising

The Norman splendour of Castle Rising

An unusual Norman church which features some good stone carving, both inside and out. The door was open but here is another church lacking signs. The guide books had sold out and 44 people had signed the visitors book in the last month. Much more could be done here for the visitor. I have to rate it as poor but it could really be so much better as this is an interesting church.

St. Mary Magdalene, Sandringham

This church is tucked away behind some trees and is not obvious from the road. There is a sign to it near to where you pay to go into the house and grounds. There is no church sign when you get to it either. There is a welcome notice in the porch which also asks the visitor for money. There is a steward on duty who is happy to answer questions. There are cards, booklets, prayer cards, children’s bibles, postcards etc to buy. There is no visitors book but one would probably be impractical here due to the sheer number of visitors. People were in and out all the time I was there. It is very ornate and very Victorian. There is a nice prayer sign and a candle left burning at the entrance to the chancel. There is also a prayer book to write requests in, of which there are many. Worth seeing but don’t expect to find much peace and quiet. I rate it as good.

St. Mary, Snettisham

A very grand church for a small place. it was open with a welcome notice outside. Other notices inside make sure that the visitor feels as though they are really welcomed and not just tolerated or just seen as a source of funds. There are post cards, guide books, children’s and adults books to buy as well as ‘Why Jesus?’ and some other leaflets. There are drinks for visitors as well. Children have an area to use. There are displays of local history, an open Bible on the altar and some interpretation of what parts of the church are about. A chapel is set aside for quiet. 26 people had signed the book in the last month.

St. Mary, Snettisham interior

One exciting development here is a proposed Church Heritage Room project which would give a display area as well as a meeting room. I would rate this church as good, it will hopefully be very good when the project comes to fruition.

St. Edmund, Hunstanton

A centrally located church in a bustling holiday resort. But it is shut with absolutely no indication if it is ever open outside of Sunday worship times. A poor witness and a really wasted opportunity. I rate this as very poor.

St. Mary the Virgin, Old Hunstanton

The signs are OK here and the church is open. I found a guide and a history as well as a leaflet which gives brief details of the other churches in this group. All of which look worth visiting. There are cards, postcards and prayer cards for sale, as well as tea towels and cloth bags. Children have an area with colouring and books. This won an award in 1998 for it’s welcome to children. It could do with updating though. 121 people in the visitors book in the last month so quite a few people do call in here. The front pew on the south side is set aside for prayer with some simple prayers printed out to use. Some ‘What do Christians believe?’ and ‘Why go to Church?’ leaflets are available too, as well as a booklet ‘Norfolk Pictures and Prayers for the Autumn of life’. Very well done.

Old Hunstanton interior

A good church to visit and I rate it as good.

St. Mary, Holme next the Sea

A large church right on the main road in the centre of the village. The signs are very good with a clear welcome. I found guide books, post cards and prayer cards for sale. There are some photos of church activities to help bring the building to life. There are some prayers to use on a prayer desk.

Holme next the Sea interior

I would rate this as Okay. More could be done here with a bit of thought. There is a nice peal of bells here – a bit of a rarity in this part of the world. More details on http://www.hntsbellringers.co.uk/church.htm

St. Mary the Virgin, Brancaster

This church was open but again no signs! There is a guide booklet and some post cards as well as the leaflet mentioned for Old Hunstanton. There is a small area for children. 10 people had signed the book in the last month. There were some prayers printed out and out on a reading desk (as per Holme next the sea). There is a small display of items of interest in the church.

Brancaster interior

I rate this as Okay, but only just about.

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One Comment
  1. Pam Miller permalink

    St.Peters
    Great Walsingham
    Welcome to Visitors
    1 A clean,much loved and cherished church. maintained in excellent condition (at considerable
    expense). A quiet, peaceful and prayerful atmosphere appreciated by visitors
    2 Notice on door
    Times of Services
    Invitation to remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is here and to worship Him, to give thanks,
    bring your needs, remember all in distress and to remember all those who worship here
    3 Inside
    Literature which may be taken away
    Guide pamphlet which I agree could be of much more use if in the form of a ‘paddle’ with
    children’s trail on one side, or a separate one for youngsters

    Due to vandalism,theft and arson – most things like the children’s books and colouring matter have to be locked away after the service

    I would like to suggest your guide line criteria consider the Gospel story of Martha and Mary. The Martha’s who do so much cleaning, flower arranging, keeping notices etc up to date and the Marys providing – a beautiful peaceful environment.
    In conclusion some useful points have arisen i.e. paddles for visitors and prayer cards for visitors to use and/or take away

    The retired priest who takes our Sunday service in the interregnum would very much like to
    talk to you,but he does not have the internet and wondered if you had a
    phone number

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