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All Saints Church, Wighton, Norfolk | by Whipper_snapper
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All Saints Church, Wighton, Norfolk

The parish guide to All Saints Church, Wighton says that at the time of the Domesday Book [1086] the lordship of the manor of Wighton extended into 'many towns' and had previously been held by King [later Saint] Edward the Confesor himself. Later the church was given to the Prior and Convent of Norwich by King Henry II. The first recorded vicar was Peter in 1281. to view the whole set.


The present building dates much later than this and the visitor is presented with a splendid Perpendicular church of about 1450 which is aligned on the 14th century tower of a previous but smaller building. This 14th century tower spectacularly collapsed as recently as 1965 and was not rebuilt until 1975 thanks to the generosity of Mr Leeds Richardson, a Canadian who had traced his family history to Wighton and who donated $100,000 [£41,000] towards the cost of the rebuilding. The new tower is strengthened internally with an 'H' section of steel encased in concrete. Mr Richardson also assisted in the recasting of the original bell and the purchase of four more from a redundant church at Maidstone, Kent.


The interior of the church is light and airy, well-lit by its big Perpendicular windows. There are two aisles with the northern one serving as a kind of informal agricultural museum [see pictures] with several implements or machines on show. This was particularly apt as my visit coincided with the harvest festival and there was an additional seasonal display of coloured gourds and marrows in the porch.


Wighton is also one of several Norfolk churches I have seen to retain a hand-drawn hearse carriage similar to a large pram. The font is 15th century and crisply carved. There is some 15th century stained glass but lighting conditions on the day of my visit precluded decent photography of it. Three wooden carvings from the former rood screen have been incorporated into the organ case.


Outside the eastern end of the church, underneath the chancel window, there are the foundations and one wall of a vestry-type building with a [now blocked] door into the chancel. I have never seen such a structure in this position before. The surviving wall retains three narrow windows. The southern porch is a large affair with a room above which may have served as lodging for an extra priest or for teaching.


A notice in the church [see above] apologises for the bat droppings inside but explains that while the church is cleaned regularly, the bats are even more 'regular' in their habits. In Britain bats are a protected species and may not be harmed or removed, even from an historic church.


Unusually Wighton's church is located in 'Kirkgate Street' a strange use of the Scottish name for a church but I wondered if - in this instance - the name might be derived from Dutch or even Anglo-Saxon origins.

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Taken on October 2, 2006