30th March, 2018. Churches Conservation Trust, third blog.

The church building in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust with which I am most familiar is St Mary’s, Barton Bendish (south-west Norfolk) – picture above. Sited on the edge of the village with woodland around and farmland beyond, it is a most delightful spot. Somebody local opens the church in the morning and locks it at night, which allows for open access. Although a few examples rustic benches, dated to 1637, and plain box pews generally the interior has been stripped of any less significant features and fittings making the small interior one that can be appreciated as a whole. The building is thatched and the gothic (pointed) windows are embellished with 14th century ‘decorated’ tracery, this cusped. One enters through the fine Norman west door although this is not original to the church. Apparently St. Mary’s once west tower collapsed in the early 18th century and damaged the west part of the nave so the building was shortened, given a new west wall to the nave into which was inserted the ornate Norman doorway from a ruinous nearby church, the reminder of this building (All Saints) being demolished a couple of years later. Also to be seen inside St. Mary’s is a faint medieval wall painting, a sedilia and two aumbry. The priest’s door in the south wall of the chancel (see picture) has a finely carved hood-mould. Presumably the small bell housing atop the apex of the west wall was a product of the Georgian re-build. The coursed chalkstone walls mean that the church blends well into its situation on the East Anglian Heights.