All Saints,
East Barsham

The much mutilated remains of this ancient church stand on a site which has been used for Christian worship since Saxon times, and tells us of disaster as well as faithfulness. The Norman doorways are the earliest visible features, and the nave is still used for regular worship.

The north-west tower was a 13th century unbuttressed square tower which has been lowered to about half its original height and still serves as a porch and only entrance to the church. The medieval bell belonging to the 'Crostwight' group (mid 15th century) was cracked and had to be re-cast in 1900 by J Warner & Sons of London and rehung in a new frame by George Day of Eye.

The tower has a particularly massive outer doorway with single chamfered arch. The Manor House and the Old Rectory are both on the North side of the church, which accounts for the main doorway being on this side.

The nave windows are Perpendicular and may be attributed to the time when the Femor family lived at the Manor House. The Manor House  and  its notable gateway are the best example of  decorative  brickwork  in  Norfolk. King Henry VIII walked barefoot from here to the Shrine at Walsingham in 1511 to pray for his infant son by Catherine of Aragon. The child did not survive, and Henry subsequently dissolved the Abbey (or Priory!).

The size of the former chancel is clearly shown by the line of flints in the churchyard. The Perpendicular East window was probably moved from the chancel into its present position. On the south side there is the ruin of a chapel, which was built over a vault like a mausoleum. It appears to be without a doorway into the church. Bryant mentions a will of 1375 when Dionyse, relict of Sir Peter Tye, Kt., left a legacy to build a porch over the graves of her father and mother. In this ruin was found the altar stone (mensa), which is now within the sanctuary. The two ancient tomb slabs could be as old as the 12th century, or could belong to the mother and father of Dionyse.

The south doorway is blocked up, but clearly it was a Norman arch without decoration. Above it remains of a 14th century (decorated) window also blocked up.

The west window is 13th century with intersected tracery. To the north of it is found the l 7th century stair turret, built with flints and Tudor bricks to give access to the bell chamber. An odd stone vent panel is visible in the north-west angle of the turret.

Inside the Church

The north doorway has a Norman arch with a shaft on each side with volute capitals. Note the roll mould over the arch with a deep recess over it.

The font is Early English, noteworthy for its eight outer supporting legs of unusual design. The benches have 15th century ends surmounted with poppy heads.

In the blocked north window stand a crucifix with figures of Our Lady and S. John, which were brought here in 1954 from the Students' Oratory in Tatterford, and formerly came from the Convent at Ketton. The side figures stand on cut stones salvaged from the ruined side chapel.

The pulpit is 17th Century, Jacobean, with a base and steps added later.  The stained glass above it is 15th century work, depicting the visitation of Our Lady Mary visited her cousin S. Elizabeth. They are flanked by an angel blowing a trumpet and another playing a harp. This gives us a good impression of how this window looked when it was first made and glazed in the Perpendicular period.

The raised floor at the east end has fine ledger slabs, arranged north-south instead of east-west, which indicates that they were moved from the former chancel during restoration of the church. The altar has good Victorian carving of cusped and moulded arches, resting on circular balusters. The brightly painted reredos of 1949 includes S. George, S. Monica, S. Edmund, Our Lady Mary, S. Margaret of Antioch, S. Julian of Norwich and S. Augustine of Canterbury. Lady Julian holds 'The Revelation of Divine Love'.

There is a wall niche which was a blocked window to the east end of the south-east window which could have been a Norman window, if not it was an Early English lancet and proves that the present windows are later insertions in this wall. Our Lady of Walsingham stands in this niche.

The brass plate, also on the south wall bearing the Calthorpe arms and initials 'J.C.', came from a pair of almshouses, dated 1637, and was erected here when the cottages were pulled down. It is said that the brass was used to block a draughty window when the cottages became very dilapidated. The Latin inscription explains 'what wealth I have I owe to God etc'. James Calthorpe's own slab lies below the altar.

In the nave floor may be found an indent of a missing brass, which remains unidentified, it clearly had the symbol of the Order of the Knight of the Garter, and could be Sir Peter Tye, who was mentioned in connection with the side chapel.

On the west wall hangs a copy of the fresco of S. Cuthbert, taken from the Galilee chapel in Durham Cathedral.

The Calthorpe Memorial

The great marble and alabaster hanging wall memorial is to Mary, the mother of James Calthorpe of East Barsham Manor, 1640, and has been moved from the chancel. It was designed and constructed by John (1598-1654) and Matthias (1605-54) Christmas, from their studio in S Giles Cripplegate, in the City of London. It is similar to a monument by the brothers in Steane (Northants). The central element to the monument is an image of Mary Calthorpe rising from a coffin. On a sheet below her is the inscription 'COME LORD JESU/COME QUICKLY'.

Behind her are two round-headed niches in which are set, in each, one standing angel. The outer springer of each arch is supported by a Doric capital and column. The coffin and the two columns are supported on a shelf, which is in turn supported by two corbels. In between the corbels are two panels with momenta mori and, in the centre, the main inscription panel. Below the inscription panel is a shield and a third corbel. Above the arches there is, in the centre, a panel with an angel blowing a trumpet. At the top of the monument is an heraldic cartouche, with at the sides two allegorical figures and a dove and a lamb.

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