History of All Saints’ Church

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Woodton is furthest east of the villages in the group, and lies just off the road from Norwich to Bungay.

The church has a round tower consisting of Norman or possibly Saxon work, and holds 6 working bells that are regularly rung. The nave and chancel date from 1300.

Inside is a beautifully sculpted memorial to Ann Suckling, the great-great-grandmother of Lord Nelson, and there is a good example of a 'squint' (allowing the altar to be seen from the aisle), with a carved head above.

Futher information

The nave and chancel date from about 1300. the south aisle was added some time before 1348, when the Black Death swept the country. The roof of this aisle retains its original medieval timber framework.

The large squint looks through from the aisle to the chancel and near it, at the aisle end, is a fine carved head. The north porch dates from 1420 and is built in the perpendicular style. This retains its original arch based roof and embattled cornice. A vestry was added to the porch in the early years of the last century. The font is Norman, although it has been greatly restored. The pulpit is Jacobean and stands where the screen must have been. A door in the north wall hides the rood-loft.

There are some fine memorials on the walls and floor to the Suckling family, including the effigy of Ann Suckling in the chancel. The family's remains lie in a vault beneath the church.

The east window in the south aisle is noteworthy. Its arch is surrounded by tiny fluerons and has a carved head at its apex. In the tracery of this window is some good medieval glass, depicting the figures of St. Catherine, with her wheel, and another saint. The south aisle also holds two medieval benches with poppy-heads. There is a 13th-century piscine in the chancel.

The east window

This was brought to Woodton by the then Rector, Frederick Lee, in the 1930s. It had been installed in the church at Tenterden in Kent in 1839 as a memorial to the Reverend Philip Ward, a connection of the Nelson family. During a restoration there in 1932, they discovered that the centre light featured beside Jesus a large and somewhat hideous Devil. Some were scandalised by this and the upshot was that Mr Lee, who was on a visit to the town, brought the whole window back to Woodton. When it was installed here it was found that there was no room for the devil, which has disappeared with the exception of the tip of a scaly wing and a green claw!

In 1880 the church was extensively restored and was given a new floor and roof, also a south porch. In 1966 the aisle roof was extensively repaired and electric lighting and heating were provided. By 1984 the bells were once again ringing to call people to worship.

(Image of window  © Simon Knott, www.norfolkchurches.co.uk)





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