Aslacton St Michael
St Michaels Church is located on the outskirts of Aslacton, a small village about two miles to the west of the main A140 Ipswich to Norwich road.
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Visiting Aslacton St Michael
There are some churches where you can remember nearly everything about your visit(s), sometimes because the keyholder was special, sometimes because of some special circumstances or so. Aslacton is not one of these churches. Even though I have been there more than once, there is nothing “special” I can remember. This does not mean that St Michael it is not a pretty church, it is just your “everyday English country church”. The good thing is that it seems to be always open to visitors.
It is situated in the area to the south of Norwich, where plenty of medieval churches are located, and therefore it is no surprise that you will be able to find half a dozen or so Round Tower Churches in close proximity to St Michael. Even though this church is situated only about 2 miles west of the main A140 Norwich road, it is as rural as rural can be.
The most interesting part of the church can be seen right from the outside: it is in fact the round tower. Although it is crowned with a 15th century parapet, the basic round tower dates back to 11th century Saxon times. The four belfry openings are framed with flints, and have double triangular-headed openings with a central vertical shaft supporting a through stone. This is a typical Saxon way of forming arched openings. In recent years it has been discovered that there was once a west door into the tower, again framed with flints. It was blocked many years ago, and is more visible inside.
The 15th century south porch has its front decorated with carved stone panels, filled with black cut-flint flushwork. It has a niche over the entrance. These niches can often be seen, but are usually empty; they would have held a statue of the patron saint, but were destroyed at the time of the Reformation. This church has got a modern statue of St Michael in its niche, so the appearance is at least closer to a medieval church.
Inside, it is a pretty and well kept church. The south aisle has two octagonal pillars to its arcade. Near the west one stands the 15th century font, set with shields on each face of the bowl. Around the foot of the stem are four fleurons alternating with four grotesque heads with their tongues protruding!
The pulpit was made of wooden boards in Victorian times, but it has a very detailed carving on its front corner. This shows a young David standing with Goliath’s head hanging from his hand. Below this is a detailed scene of confrontation with Goliath towering over David, who is holding his sling. This panel is probably 16th century Flemish work.
The chancel had a major restoration in the 19th century, so shows Victorian work. However there is a double piscina below a trefoiled arch. Double piscinas were only used in the reign of Edward I, (1272-1307), so this is part of the early chancel.
In the chancel floor is a stone remembering the death of three daughters of the Mallom family within ten months in 1737/8, Sarah at 13 weeks in May, Elizabeth at 6 years in October and Phillis at 3 years the following March.
There is also some stained glass to be seen. In the western wall of the round tower is a window with the Lamb of God. The east window above the altar with its nice reredos depicts a crucifixion scene with the roman soldiers in the lower right hand corner showing their disinterest by playing a game of Dice. Another window in the chancel shows St Michael, the patron saint of the church.