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Church Post Code NR23 1PL

Open to visitors

Visited October 2021


It was October 2021, and a few days spent in North Norfolk on a trip that was sadly blighted by poor weather. On a rare dry period, I visited the church of All Saints, Wighton. Wighton is some  seven and a half miles north of Fakenham and four miles south of Wells Next The Sea. Walsingham, a page for which is included in this site, is three miles off to the south. Set close to the main road which runs through the village the church is a commanding sight. I stayed at a bed and breakfast in neighbouring Warham a few years ago and there are some lovely long distance views of All Saints to be had from Warham village.

    Fond memories of visiting Wighton for the first time before I started photographing churches; visiting an aunt who lived in the village and hoping to take in Wighton's scarecrow festival. I arrived at roughly the same time as a terrific thunderstorm and spent my whole time there sitting in my aunts living room while the rain lashed down. A lovely, peaceful village.

    All Saints consists of perpendicular west tower, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, double decker south porch and chancel. The nave was reconstructed during the 15th century, with the work overseen by James Woderove, one of the most important mason architects of the day. The onlooker might notice that the flints on the tower look crisper than on the rest of the structure. This is due to the tower being rebuilt. The original tower, from 1300, fell in a storm in 1965 and this replacement tower was provided by a Canadian businessman who has relatives buried in the church grounds. The new tower was completed in 1976.


I have never found the church here closed to visitors; moving inside it is bright and welcoming, even on a dull day outside, the six clerestory windows to north and south doing their job; this is a small village church on a large scale! The village population was in the mid 200's at the time of the 2011 census and I daresay that it has never been all that high. The churches were not built for the size of the population of the parish, they were built on a grand scale to reduce the time that the donor and family had to spend in purgatory following death, the religion of this country being catholic prior to the reformation.

    There is not a great deal of stained glass here, which helps the lighting situation on a dull day. Scattered throughout the nave are individual panels depicting Saints. They are depicted with symbols, sometimes detailing the manner of their martyrdom and I will look at these in a little more detail below.

    The five light east window is of clear glass. The sanctuary is plain and tasteful; the altar  just having a single cross on it. Four large candlesticks support a plain curtain which surrounds the altar on three sides. Standing at the chancel and looking towards the west, there is no tower arch, just a solid wall.

    There is a little 15th century stained glass here. Two bare chested angels, wings curled tightly against them, can be seen in one window; in another four angels play lyra's. Interestingly, one of these musicians is left handed. Interesting as those who were left handed were often looked down on in medieval times; and were more likely to be accused of witchcraft.

    There are two grotesques, happily retired in the nave, one of which pulls open its mouth in medieval gesture of insult, these no doubt previously being on the tower when it fell.

    The font is interesting, as with the font as Fakenham it has the trinity shield and items of Christ's passion. This one also has scallop shells, a symbol of Christian pilgrimage and the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.



St James, who along with his brother John were called sons of thunder by Jesus, and who were also part of the 12. He is the patron saint of pilgrims, and fishermen. He is portrayed here with a scallop shell hanging from his belt. 

The scallop shell is an often used Christian symbol. This shell has many grooves on the outside which all meet at specific point on the inside of the shell. This symbolises the many paths that a life can take; all of which finally converge on Christ!

St James was beheaded for his belief and close look at this panel shows the straps of his travelling bag being wrapped around the hilt of a sword. He was the first of the 12 disciples to be martyred for his faith.




St Thomas, another of the 12 disciples, is famously known as 'Doubting Thomas' due to his refusal to accept that Christ had risen until he had personally touched His wounds. 

He is portrayed here holding a spear; which again is the manner of his martyrdom. Sometimes the symbolism is different; being portrayed with a ruler as it was said that he once built a church by hand.

It is said that Thomas was killed by a spear by Jealous Hindu priests and he is still seen as the Patron Saint of India.


St Philip, also one of the 12. is depicted holding a basket of loaves. This is a reference to the feeding of the 5,000 when Jesus asks Philip where they would be able to find bread to feed the assembled crowd. 

There are two suggestions as to his death. One is that he was beheaded, the other is that he was crucified upside down; preaching from the cross, from which he refused to be taken down when the crowd wanted him to be released

His name means lover of horses, and so he is regraded as the patron saint of horseback riders and horse breeders.



St Bartholomew, another of the 12, is thought to be also known as Nathaniel in the Gospel of John. He is said to have been martyred for having converted Polymius, King of Armenia, to Christianity.

Again here, the manner of his martyrdom is indicated by what he is holding. He holds a knife, with him being skinned alive for his faith. Other reports suggest that he was crucified upside down.

Some depictions of St Bartholomew show him carrying his own skin.

Due to the nature of his death, St Bartholomew is the Patron Saint of, amongst other, tanners, leatherworkers and bookbinders,


There are 14 panels here and only 11 disciples, allowing that there is no panel for Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. So that leaves three who are not of the original 12.

Barnabas is one of these. He appears in Acts and his name means 'son of encouragement'. He was a firm supporter of the early church and made several missionary journeys with Paul.

Tradition states that he was dragged out of a synagogue whilst preaching and stoned to death.

His symbolism on this panel is interesting, as it does not symbolise his death but his evangelism. He holds a Bible, but with the pages looking outwards towards the onlooker. 



St Jude, also one of the 12 disciples,  who is also known as Thaddeus and sometimes Judas Thaddeus, is depicted here holding a boat. This is in reference to the number of boat trips he took when undertaking his missionary work.

Sometimes he id depicted holding an image of Christ close to his heart; on other occasions he is depicted with a club or an axe, the latter detailing the manner of his execution.

In the catholic church he is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes


Paul, previously known as Saul, is another who was not of the original 12. He was the arch persecutor of the early Christians, being present at the stoning of Stephen the first Christian martyr.

After being converted, after meeting with the risen Christ whilst on the road to Damascus, he devoted his life to preaching the word of Christ; going on to write 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament, some of which were written whilst being imprisoned by the Romans.

He is shown holding an axe, which signifies the manner of his martyrdom.

St. Paul is the patron saint of missionaries, evangelists, writers, journalists, authors, public workers, rope and saddle makers, and tent makers. The latter was his occupation before devoting his life to missionary work.




As mentioned earlier, along with his brother James, John was one of the 'sons of thunder'. He was the only one of the disciples not to be martyred. He is generally thought to be the youngest of the disciples and is always portrayed as looking young and clean shaven. John is the only male figure to be found at the foot of the cross after Jesus ' crucifixion.

    Along with Peter, John would become one of the closest disciples to Jesus, this being reflected by him having the place of honour next to Jesus at the Last Supper, where John is normally depicted leaning against Jesus.

Here he is depicted with a serpent rising up out of a chalice.  The story is said that, while in Ephesus, John was offered a glass of poisoned wine. Before drinking, he blessed the drink and the poison came out of the cup in the form of a serpent.

He is the patron saint of of love, loyalty, friendships, and authors


St Andrew was another of the original 12 disciples, along with his brother Peter. Andrew was the first disciple to be called by Jesus, and he and his brother were to be among Jesus' closest disciples.

Here, Andrew is depicted carrying an X shaped cross; a saltire cross or cross of St Andrew, on which he was crucified. It is said that he believed himself to be unworthy of being crucified in the same way as Christ, so asked to be crucified on the X shaped cross instead. I was to see the same symbol a couple of miles away at Great Walsingham, on a carved 15th century bench end.

Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland as many will already know, but also of Russia.



Peter was another of the original 12 disciples, who came to Jesus with his brother Simon. He was rash and outspoken but very loyal despite denying Christ three times on the night of the crucifixion.

Peter is one of the easiest disciples to identify. Normally he is depicted as being bald on top and holds a key or keys. This is a Biblical reference to Matthew chapter 16 verse 19 where Jesus says  "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 

As a former fisherman, he is the patron saint of netmakers, shipbuilders, and fishermen, and, because he holds the “keys to the kingdom of heaven,” he is also the patron saint of locksmiths.


Mathias wasn't an original member of the 12 disciples. He was the replacement for Judas Iscariot after Judas had betrayed Jesus on the night of His crucifixion. 

There is no mention of Mathias in any of the Gospels but according to Acts he had been a follower of Jesus for the whole length of His ministry.

Here, St Mathias is depicted holding a halberd, which fits in again with the manner of his martyrdom. History tells that he was crucified with his body then being chopped in to pieces. He is also sometimes depicted with a cross.

St Mathias is the patron saint of Alcoholics.



Matthew was an interesting choice of disciple for Jesus. He was a tax collector which would have made him unpopular with many other Jews as he would have been seen as collaborating with the occupying Roman forces. He would have been particularly unpopular with Simon the Zealot, with the Zealots as mentioned earlier wanting the removal by force of the occupying Romans.

Of all of the disciples, Matthew is one that is hard to pick out symbolically, as there is dispute as to to how he died. 

In this panel Matthew is seen carrying a pike, bit there is disagreement  about the manner of his death, which is variously reported as being by burning, stoning, stabbing, or beheading.

Matthew is the patron saint of tax collectors and accountants.


There are a few James' here; with James The Les snot to be confused with James The Great who was one of the 12 or James the brother of Jesus who was not.

This James looks to have been the the son of Alphaeus, and his mother might have been one of the women at the foot of the cross when Christ was crucified. Lots of maybes here on this one.

Here James is seen holding a club. There is some debate as to the manner of his death. What I have seen is that he was thrown off of the wall of the temple in Jerusalem, and then stoned. He was finally clubbed to death after neither of the former worked.

He is the patron saint of, amongst others, pharmacies and dying people.



St Simon was known as Simon the Zealot. The Zealots were a revolutionary political party, whose aim was to plot against the Romans who occupied Jewish lands.

St Simon was one of the 12 Disciples; and like the others, with the exception of St John (and Judas Iscariot who was to betray Jesus) he was martyred for his belief.

Here, St Simon is depicted with a saw, this portraying the manner of his death; legend stating that he was sawn in half.

St Simon is the patron saints of couriers, tanners and sawyers

Moving outside, and the wind was gusting and rain was imminent. As I was walking towards the east of the church I disturbed a mother hen who had around a dozen chicks safely under her wings. Refusing to pose for a photograph they fled north at speed!

There are some gloriously carved 18th century gravestones to the south of the nave, featuring the deaths head; a carving of a human skull designed to remind the onlooker that Man is mortal and will die.

    One of these is winged; with this symbolisibng the flight of the soul to heaven' Another has the skull set above a human bone, this being another symbol of mortality. Close by is a depiction of an hour glass, which is winged; tempus fugit, time flies. The sands of time have run out for the deceased, who in this case was a mere 17 years old and the message is clear, live a good Christian life and do not be caught lacking when your own time comes. In days where life expectancy was low, this could come sooner than you might think!


Just as this visit was over it started to rain. quite heavily and the photography was put on hold for a while. The coastliner bus came and I headed towards Wells, to get some lunch and wait for the conditions to improve. To complete this page though, a couple of exterior shots taken in better lighting conditions, a glorious Saturday afternoon in September when I was making my way towards my bed and breakfast at Fakenham on the first day of a five day North Norfolk churchcrawl.

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