South Creake Church, Norfolk
If one is a frequent church crawler (which I am) in a county blessed with good churches - Norfolk - there is always a risk of becoming a bit blasé about yet another old church or even just a little bit jaded. I was probably feeling like that when I stepped into the church of Our Lady St Mary at South Creake.
www.flickr.com/photos/barryslemmings/sets/72157645434640294/ to see the full set.
It is an easy church to miss as it is located in a side turning of the main road through the Creakes to Burnham Market. The church clearly has a high church tradition as the vicar is listed as 'father' and the interior has colourful furnishing and art which would probably have many evangelicals running in terror. The church website refers to Common Worship being in the Anglo-Catholic tradition with incense and bells.
The church appears to date from the 13th century - the date of the chancel - with a porch and tower of 14th century but the clerestory and arcades are probably 15th century. The tower arch is probably circa 1300AD. The font shows the Seven Sacraments but has been badly damaged by iconoclasts (I noted the same at Docking as well) but the font does retain traces of green and red paint. The handheld bier (no wheels) for carrying coffins to the graveyard is an antique dated 1688.
The medieval hammer beam nave ceiling is decorated with angels, there are gorgeous red tiles on the floor and the pulpit is an elegant goblet shape - again with traces of paint. The screen is 14th century and was probably highly coloured but only paint traces remain. Some 14th and 15th century glass remains, mostly fragmentary. The chancel arch rood beam came from a Colchester church in the 1980s.
Furnishings and art include several banners plus statues of St Michael triumphant over evil, the martyred St Edmund and the martyred King Charles I. There appears to be a local tradition regarding King Charles as he also appears at the nearby Walsingham Shrine.
The churchyard is well kept although partially cleared of stones for ease of maintenance. The only slightly discordant note was the bright blue chemical toilet next to the church porch. Surely there's a better place to put it or a better way to disguise it? A bit of wood panelling would help.
The church website says that the bells have been silent since before WW2 but there are plans to restore them.