This was my second visit here. The first time I had a rather quick look while waiting for Bestbeloved – we were on holiday with a prime purpose of looking at birds. When Bestbeloved suggested another week in Weybourne I booked a whole day to photograph this church.
The church is clearly old and, equally clearly, has been renovated on a number of occasions. This is most obvious from outside where there are remains of a mediaeval priory – more later. The Parochial Council has produced an excellent if brief booklet on the church. Although my habit is to restrict myself to what I can see with my own eyes, I shall make use of this booklet on occasion.
When I am describing windows and arches, I am going to use the classic descriptions of Gothic as being English Decorated or English Perpendicular. I am aware that the Victorians ‘got at’ this church and my naming refers to the style and not the age.
The chancel is almost square. There are two English Decorated windows on the south wall – neither with stained glass. The eastern most window has three bays and the other two bays. Oddly, there is no window in the east wall above the alter. I think that the reason for this is the presence of more, now defunct, buildings to the east of the current church.
On the east end of the south wall is a piscina the bowl of which sits proud of the wall.
The east wall of the chancel is plain apart from a white curtain covering the lower part of the wall. Speaking to the verger, he told me that the curtain was basically decorative and was covering some plaster in poor condition.
The north wall of the chancel has what look to be two blocked up doorways. One, with a stone arch, is rather low but in keeping with the age of the church. The other is larger with a shallower arch suggesting a date of post 1450. I think that these would have given onto the Saxon tower to be described later.
The alter is on a raised stone sanctuary with two steps. The furniture is wooden. The church might well possess more impressive articles for use in services but they are not on open display. There are two wooden chairs – one behind the alter and one infant. The lower portion of the chancel has pews on either side. This part of the chancel is floored with terracotta tiles which look to be of no great age.
The roof is clearly relatively new. It consists of wooden rafters sitting on wooden corbels. The entire chancel ceiling is painted white.
In front of the chancel is a wrought iron and wood barrier. Normally, this would be closer to the alter on the front of the raised area. The verger told me that this had been moved forward as many of the elderly congregation struggled with the two steps required. The entire chancel is two steps above the nave.
The nave is not aligned with the chancel. The north wall of both the chancel and the nave are one. The south wall of the nave, however, is several feet to the south of the south wall of the chancel. This clearly show that the nave and chancel are of different ages.
Between the nave and the chancel is a Gothic arch resting on stone corbels. Above the chancel arch, but central to the nave, is a small English Decorated window.
The nave has two windows in the south wall, both English Decorated (or English Perpendicular – they are either transitional or Victorian) and both with plain glass.
The north wall of the nave has a two bay arcade. These have Gothic arches on plain round pillars with plain circular capitals and bases. There used to be a third bay but all that remains is a small part of the capital protruding from the chancel wall.
The nave roof is wooden and more ornate than the chancel roof, the roof rafters are supported on alternating stone and wooden corbels, the stone corbels being significantly lower than the wooden corbels.
At the east end of the nave, on the south side, is a wooden organ. This has an ivorine label which states “No 678 The positive Organ Co Ltd London N.W. Patented”. This has recently been moved from a position at the west end to allow for a modern kitchen and toilet to be installed (Again, from the verger).
On the north side of the east end of the nave is a wooden pulpit. The booklet mentioned earlier states that this is Jacobean. It is nicely carved.
There is also, on the south side at this end, a wooden lecture with an old Bible dated on the cover 1866 and with Weybourne spelt Waborne.
By the organ is an ornate niche.
The nave is fitted with pews. These were supplied in 1901 (there is a plaque saying so which is how I can be so precise). The ends of the pews are carved with what I think must be Fleur de Lis. There are also three older carvings incorporated in the pew ends. These appear to be from the 15th century (again relying on the church booklet). They are a woman in a coif, a dove (?) and a small remnant of what was probably a second dove.
A the west end of the nave is the tower. This has a tall arch with fairly plain bases. The west window, which is English perpendicular, has been recently renovated and reset (information, again, courtesy of the verger).
In there ground level portion of the tower is a new toilet. Above the toilet are the creed and Lord’s Prayer which have been moved from the east end of the nave (info courtesy of the verger, again). Also in the tower are a small door (to access higher levels of the tower?) and a niche. The tower houses a clock which was quite noisy while I was in the church on my own but perhaps not noticeable when the church is in use.
The north aisle is used for “messy church” for children. There is a door into the vestry.
The north aisle houses a large oil panting whose subject matter I cannot make out.
The main door into the church is wooden with very ornate hinges – this looks to be Victorian. The porch is plain and painted white. Halfway up the walls are sockets for floor joists suggesting that there used to be an upper storey (used as a chapel when the church was not in use?). The outer door of the porch is very modern and made from etched glass.
Coming from Lincolnshire, the most striking thing about this church is the materials it is built from. It is mostly flint with stone quoins and flints. It is quite easy to distinguish the various periods of work by the flints (whole or knapped) and whether they are laid to courses or randomly. The earlier work is whole flints laid to courses and the newest is knapped flints laid more or less randomly. The roughest work is clearly repairs.
The tower is ‘modern’ – i.e. later than 1400 – with typical-for-the-period corner buttresses. The tower has three sections with a large Perpendicular west window in the middle section. This window has been reglazed and reset very recently. I was originally told this by the verger but it is also apparent b y the disruption to the flints work on the outside. Even when the work has become well weathered I think it will still be apparent.
The middle section of the tower houses the clock which has faces on the west and south faces only. Beneath the clock dial on both sides is a small square window. The top section has a large perpendicular window on each side, ‘glazed’ with wood.
From the outside, the porch clearly has two storeys., The lower storey is built from flints and the upper storey has a chequerboard of flint squares and brick squares on the front face. The sides of the porch are flint all the way up. Above the porch door is an empty niche and above that a window.
On both sides of the porch, where the porch meets the nave, there is evidence of large repairs. I suspect that at least one of these (but perhaps both) mask where the stairs to the porch loft were originally.
The south walls of the nave and chancel have nothing much to tell us. The north walls are not visible to the public. The chancel wall has been raised at the top with five courses of bricks. The outside of the chan cel roof does not seem to match the inside. Outside, the chancel roof has a single ‘lean-to’ roof. Inside, the chancel’s rafters form an apex centrally in the chancel ceiling. I rather think that the chancel ceiling has a void above it, the concern of the renovators being to produce a pleasing interior rather than just support the roof.
There are ruins of the old Priory that this church used to be a part of. Of these walls, I am not able to discern anything about the buildings they originally formed a part of. The most interesting part of the ruins is a tower that rises above the east end of the chancel. The chancel and this tower share foundations. This tower (or, rather, part of a tower) is clearly of Saxon origin. It has typically Saxon ornamentation in the stonework. I would think that this was originally a crossing tower over the junction of the nave and chancel of an earlier phase of the building. Above the ornamentation at rest op of the Saxon tower are two holes on south face and one remaining hole on the partial east face. These would have been there to allow the sound of the bells to be heard.
As you might expect, the churchyard is full of gravestones. Many of these have weathered to become unreadable – or at least very hard to read. Some of the older stones were sharply enough and deeply enough carved to be still easy to read. Examples:
John Johnson who dies in 1740 (January 9th) aged 67.
Thos Bull who died February 26th 1730 aged 54 years, and also his Whife (sic) whose date and age I cannot read.
Joannes Hooke who died 16 November 1744 aged 78 and was posh enough to have his gravestone carved in Latin but with an English motto: “The Righteous hath hope in his death”.