View the remarkable ‘Memento Mori’ panels of a surviving medieval rood screen at St Mary in Sparham
St Botolph’s in Trunch offers a beautiful 15th century hammerbeam roof alongside fine medieval misericords and a stunning font canopy
Appreciate the stained glass at Bale alongside fascinating murals at Wickhampton and Hemblington
"A well-paced tour with constant delights in unlikely places"
- ACE customer on a previous Churches of Norfolk tours with Imogen Corrigan
Around one thousand medieval churches once stood in Norfolk, and over six hundred and fifty remain – the largest concentration anywhere in the world. Rising above the gently rolling landscape, they survive from the time when East Anglia was the economic heartland of late medieval England, prospering from the wool trade, the wealth of its great landed families and its thriving coastal port.
John Betjeman famously mused that “lovers of Norfolk churches can never agree which is the best and I think one is either a Salle or a Cawston man”. These churches represent two of Norfolk’s most spectacularly vast church buildings, but our exploration of the religious architecture, art and iconography of the Middle Ages will also encompass some smaller and lesser-known examples, many housing unexpected treasures.
We shall delve into the various media for church art, from misericords and woodcarving to wonderful stained glass at Bale, and fascinating murals at Wickhampton and Hemblington. St Botolph’s in Trunch presents a stunning collection of features, from its beautiful 15th century hammerbeam roof to its superb oak font canopy, one of only four of its kind in England.
Also included will be the much-maligned doodling of the medieval graffiti artist, as seen at St Margaret’s in Cley, the grandest of the four churches that stood at the great harbour mouth of Blakeney Haven. Particular highlights will be those treasures that elucidate the rich pre-Reformation sacramental life of England’s parish churches, such as the splendid rood screens at Cawston and at Ranworth, where the 26 painted saints panels represent one of the great survivals of English medieval art.
We will stay throughout at the Park Farm Hotel & Leisure, Hethersett, a four-star establishment set in beautiful countryside a few miles outside Norwich. A coach or taxi pick-up from Norwich Station will be provided for those travelling by train.
Tour Director Imogen Corrigan, BA, MPhil, FRHistS, FRSA is a medieval historian. Following almost 20 years in the army, from which she retired in the rank of Major, Imogen obtained a first-class degree in Anglo-Saxon and Medieval History from the University of Kent and has been studying and lecturing ever since. Imogen’s most recent book, Stone on Stone: The Men who Built the Cathedrals, was published in 2019.
Tour Director Imogen Corrigan writes:
“Almost all of our villages have a parish church; some 10,000 of them dating from before the Reformation. The county of Norfolk is especially blessed, and for this tour, I have chosen the ones which I think offer the best examples of different types of church art: the best wall painting, seven sacrament font, stained glass, rood screen or hammerbeam roof so inhabited by angels that you can almost hear the beat of their wings.
This tour will be all about parish churches, the people who used them, and the men who made them. These men should not be underestimated, but they were real people who got into trouble with the law, occasionally cheated on contracts, and liked to start a job but not to finish it! They achieved immortality through their exquisite buildings, but the reward they most craved was that of eternal life (and a good lifestyle on this earth, of course).
One of the things that I continually try to do is see if we can understand their mindset by looking at the clues that they have left. On this tour I will be showing participants how to read a church, understanding the many signs and symbols that our ancestors have left for us to unravel, and by doing this, we will find some of their hopes, sorrows and ambitions and sometimes their sharp senses of humour.
I hope that the tour works on two levels: to provide an exploration of the delightful and very different parish churches on one hand, and to search for our medieval ancestors on the other.”
Included: accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, three breakfasts, three dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.
Not Included: travel insurance, double room for single use supplement £180.