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Church Post Code  PE32 2TH

Open to visitors

Visited April 2021

It was  early April 2021 and this month saw a few trips out in to Norfolk, concentrating on the area which is bordered by Fakenham to the north, Dereham to the east, Swaffham to the south and Kings Lynn to the west. A month blessed with cloudless skies, warm weather and fascinating churches.

It was fairly late afternoon on a glorious Easter Saturday, when we arrived at Wellingham and the Weasenhams, All Saints and St Peter; villages which can be found on either side of the A1065 which connects Swaffham to Fakenham.

Starting with Wellingham, this is a tiny village which recorded a population of 55 at the time of 2001 census, with the population thereafter included with that of neighbouring Weasenham All Saints. Wellingham itself is a scattering of houses on two main streets, with the church of St Andrew centrally located.

There was no mention of a church or priest at the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 with this medieval church being of basic construction; consisting of west tower, nave south porch and chancel. There are no aisles and no clerestories and to be fair the exterior of the chancel was not looking its best, being covered in corrugated iron sheeting and scaffolding.


Starting off though with a sign of the covid times! A sign posted up indicated that the church was now open for private prayer and to observe the social distancing rules. It goes on to say that while the church was ‘empty of humans’ a family of owls had moved in, apologising for the mess that they had made. It is interesting to see how animals react to the absence of humans; with thoughts turning to the church at Keyston in Huntingdonshire which only holds occasional services now and which now has a bat problem so bad that literally all of the furnishings inside the church are covered in plastic sheets.

The church of St Andrew sits on high ground, with a scattering of gravestones; a plain simple small village church. The square west tower has some flushwork on the battlements; and shows signs of patching over the years’. The chancel encased as it was on the day, was an unknown quantity.


The church was open to visitors despite the building work that was going on, with nothing covered up by dust sheets. There is no chancel arch here, with nave flowing seamlessly in to chancel. The altar is plain and simple with a single cross and green altar cloth, the liturgical colour for ordinary times; which we had just moved out of with Easter Sunday the following day. A medieval piscina can be seen in its traditional position against the south wall of the chancel.

The church here is most noted for its 16th century roodscreen, which is dated to 1532, just two years before the Protestant Reformation took place; with suddenly things such as these being deemed idolatrous and defaced as a result.

On one graphic panel the risen Christ emerges from the tomb; ‘Ecce Homo’, behold the man, written across the top. Christ’s body is cut in many places, wearing the crown of thorns with face erased by the reformers. He is surrounded by symbols of the passion; nails whips, hammer, pliers, dice, spear and sponge on hyssop stick. We also see a spear which I assume relates to Peter cutting off the Jewish High Priest’s servant Malchus’ ear in the Garden of Gethsemane, a cock standing on a plinth which refers to the cock crowing as Peter denies knowing Jesus for the third time, and Herod washing his hands of Jesus’ fate. Interestingly, this scene is at the top of a panel, with the lower half blank, with a previous painting erased totally.


On a further panel we see St Michael carrying a sword in one hand and the scales on which the souls of the deceased will be judged on the final day. One on side we see two figures at prayer, whilst three demons are to be seen on the other side, with one of the demons biting the cord of the scales with another trying to pull the scales down.

Off to the left of this panel as we look at it we see Mary the mother of Jesus, crowned as the Queen of Heaven, holding in her hands rosary beads with an angel alongside her.

Here we can again see the mark of the reformers, with all three characters having their eyes damaged and St Michael also having the details of his nimbus erased.

There is also a wonderfully detailed depiction of St George slaying the dragon. Rather than just having the two principle characters we also see Kings and Queens looking out from a castle, in front of which a black rabbit runs and what I think is a black cat walks away from the castle door; no doubt wanting to be let back in a few seconds later! Off in the distance are five church spires.

The reformers would have defaced things that they saw as being idolatrous. Here, the face of St George is erased but so is the face of his horse! How this was seen as being idolatrous I have no idea; especially as the depiction of St Sebastian nearby, tied to a tree and shot with arrows, is left untouched is as that of St Martin close by, although it looks as if these might have been restored.



Church Post Code PE32 2TE

Open to visitors

After leaving Wellingham we headed around a mile to the west to neighbouring Weasenham St Peter. There was a few cars parked up outside the church, which can be found right at the side of the main road, and it turned out that the first service since the lifting of the second lockdown was about to take place. A friendly vicar was happy to give me a brief guided tour while the congregation took their places, which I was very grateful for. I did pop back when I was next in the area to re shoot the interior without the congregation inside, so interior photographs are a mixture from the two visits.

This is another small village, which recorded a population of 154 at the time of the 2021 census. There was no church or priest mentioned here at the time of the Domesday Survey The church here is medieval, with the west tower dating back to the 13th century; with the north porch and south arcade each dating from the 15th century. There was the usual period of Victorian restoration here.


The church that we see today consists of west tower, nave with south aisle, north porch, south vestry and chancel; which looked beautiful, highlighted in the afternoon sun, with the daffodils in bloom on the bank to the north of the church. The 13th century tower is battlemented with crocketed pinnacles at each corner; and church clock facing out from all sides except the south.

The north wall of the nave is more elaborate than the south, battlemented and with a series of blind arches running just above ground level the length of the nave. No need for a clerestory to the north with three impressive three light windows of clear glass, except for some medieval fragments, accounting for much of the wall space from the porch to the east end of the nave.

The porch itself is battlemented with some flushwork design and an empty image niche over the doorway which I daresay held a statue of St Peter before the reformation.

Moving around to the south the aisle is heavily buttressed, with both aisle and nave walls battlemented. The south vestry with chimney juts out from the chancel. A few grotesques, which don’t appear to be of any great age; perhaps dating from the Victorian restoration here, peer out across the wide church grounds.


Moving inside, it is bright and welcoming, as you would expect with the amount of clear glass in the nave. The visitor enters in through the north porch; taking care on the revisit to tread carefully on the tray placed on the floor to catch the pigeon droppings.

Walls are whitewashed and there are hardly any memorials to be found on the walls here for whatever reason. To the south of the chancel arch is the rood stair, which would have led to the rood loft and the rood itself; a glimpse of what things would have been like before the destruction of the reformation.

The chancel is long and uncluttered, a pleasant welcoming place, beautifully lit by the afternoon sun. The east wall is intriguing with a window ledge forming the sedilia to the east of the piscina, where the piscina would normally be the furthest east. What could be an aumbry is to the west of these two; with it normally being against the north wall. I suspect that things would have been reset during the Victorian restoration.

There is a single cross and two candlesticks on the altar, which had a white altar cloth, with white or gold used during the Easter period.


The fine east window is of three lights and was made by stained glass artist William Warrington in 1849. We see three main panels, vividly coloured, which are Mary of Bethany preparing to anoint Jesus’ feet, the crucifixion, with the three Mary’s and John alongside the cross and Jesus surrounded by children. Higher up we see Mary the mother of Jesus central, flanked by Peter with keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and Paul with downturned sword, with all three on plinths and attended by golden haired, golden winged angels.

Up in the tracery angels carry banners with the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, along with the four symbols of the evangelists. Higher still, right at the top, we see a trinity shield, which was there to help explain the Holy Trinity.

This diagram consists of four nodes interconnected by six links. The three outer nodes are labelled with the names of the three persons of the Trinity;  Father ("PATER"), Son ("FILIUS"), and Holy Spirit ("SPIRITUS SANCTUS"). The node in the centre of the diagram is labelled God ("DEUS"), while the three links connecting the centre node with the outer nodes are labelled "is" ("EST"), and the three links connecting the outer nodes to each other are labelled "is not" ("NON EST"). Therefore, we have 12 statements which read…

"The Father is God" "The Son is God" "The Holy Spirit is God" "God is the Father""God is the Son" "God is the Holy Spirit" "The Father is not the Son" "The Father is not the Holy Spirit" "The Son is not the Father" "The Son is not the Holy Spirit" "The Holy Spirit is not the Father""The Holy Spirit is not the Son"


At the east end of the south aisle we see a finely carved reredos with the crucifixion central. To the left as we look at it we see a depiction of the annunciation, with the Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary. To the right we have the risen Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene, who carries a jar of spices, on Easter morning.

The east window of the south aisle has a three light window with Mary and the infant Jesus central, flanked by St George and St Michael, who are depicted slaying the dragon and Satan respectively.

The rest of the glass here is clear, with the exception of a single light window at the west end of the tower which shows the risen Christ emerging from the tomb in front of a sleeping Roman soldier and a little medieval glass.

In the north aisle there are three pieces of medieval glass. One section is simply a small shield; the second is 15th century and depicts St Margaret, crowned and carrying a processional cross. The third is another from the 15th century, with this one featuring a fragmented figure of an angel; these probably being all that remain of medieval glass that was destroyed at the time of the reformation. A beautiful, welcoming church; it was good to see it being used again for worship as the country continued to emerge from an extremely challenging time.



Church Post code PE32 2SR

Closed to visitors

We headed off to Weasenham All Saints, a short distance off to the south west, heading in the direction which would have brought us to West Lexham if we had continued. The church was closed to visitors but as I was looking around a lady came over and said that she would pop home and come back with the key; which was appreciated.

The church that we see today consists of nave with north and south aisles, south porch, north vestry and chancel. The church is medieval with north aisle, north arcade and south porch all dating from the 14th and 15th centuries. There used to be a tower here, which fell in 1653.

When John L’Estrange compiled his study of church bells in Norfolk which was published in 1874, he notes that in 1796 a faculty had been granted for the demolition of the south aisle, with the sale of 12 tons of lead worth £174 and the sale of two damaged bells worth £19 with the bells I am assuming damaged during the fall.


When the south aisle was demolished, it left the south porch, which had had a brick second storey added to it, connected tenuously to the rest of the church by a small brick wall. The church was substantially rebuilt between 1905 and 1906, at which point the south aisle was rebuilt; as well as the brick second storey being removed from the porch.

The church sits in a quiet peaceful area, behind its low wall and hemmed in on three sides by trees. The 15th century porch is finely decorated, and looking much the better for the removal of its upper storey, with crocketed pinnacles and a parapet taking its place. There are coats of arms of the donors and empty image niches to either side of the doorway, with flushwork blind arcading lower down.

The church is impressive from the west. There is no sign of any remains of the fallen tower, with a five light window with large roundel containing an octagonal design central on the west wall. A small recess above this window holds a single bell.


A sign on the south door gave covid instructions for entry; wear a mask, keep two metres apart and leave name and contact details; along with an NHS QR code which was scanned by mobile phone. How strange these things seemed when we first encountered them; how strange it seemed a few months later when we ceased doing them! I can remember scanning in around 15 of these in a single day once when churchcrawling and passing a self-deprecating word to Gary about anyone checking up on where I had been; questioning what the heck I was doing and querying my life choices in general!

There is some interesting graffiti here, mainly names and dates with one particularly detailed piece of graffiti stating that John Whitmore left his name on July 31st 1807. A more informal note mark noted that ‘Willie’ was also here, possibly two years later.

Sadly my interior photographs are very limited due to the presence of a stage that had been erected at the entrance to the chancel arch. This had been here since before Christmas, with an artificial Christmas tree and a sign up saying that the performance was entitled ‘Baubles’. This blocked the chancel, which was out of bounds as a result and, more annoyingly, blocked the 15th century rood screen which has eight painted panels; with the four evangelists and the four Latin Doctors of the Catholic church. It is great to see the church being used, but perhaps the stage could have been removed between then and Easter!


This prompted a few questions. How have they managed to hold services in the church with the stage there? Are they indeed still open for worship? A quick look at the Church Near You entry had little information but stated that the church was a member of the Upper Nar and Launditch Group. A look at their page shows that 18 churches are listed with Weasenham All Saints not being among them. Is this church still open for worship…I don’t know!

There are five bay arcades to north and south, with the south arcade obviously being of more recent date. The north arcade is of 14th to 15th century date with signs of rebuilding and restoration. The south aisle has an altar set up at the east end; and there is no stained glass here that I saw, but having said that though there were parts of the interior that I couldn’t get to. As with neighbouring St Peter, the walls, that I could see, are bare of memorials. Curious!

In the church grounds there is one listed structure, this being a fine mid 18th century chest tomb, with urn on top, to the west of the church. This is a fine church with an interesting history and it was good to see inside it; well most of it!

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