Bawburgh St Mary and St Walstan
St Mary and St Walstans church is located in the village of Bawburgh, just to the west of the A47 Norwich Southern Bypass road.
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Visiting Bawburgh St Mary and St Walstan
Even though St Walstan’s in Bawburgh is located only a couple of miles to the east of the large City of Norwich, and the main A47 Norwich Bypass Road is even closer, you feel that you have arrived in the countryside. I have been there on two occasions, and the weather was always poor, so the quality of the exterior photos reflects the conditions in which they were taken. There is not much I do remember about those visits, apart from the facts that it was locked, but a keyholder was shown, so I was able to collect a key and take some photos of the interior; and that on the second visit on Easter Sunday 2008, there was some snow.
St Walstan, the patron of farm workers, is a rather unusual dedication for an English church; the reason that the church in Bawburgh is named after him is his story as a local saint. Read the full story here. There was a shrine here to keep alive his memory; he died about 1016, and subsequently the church was enlarged with a north chapel from the nave, now ruined, in which he was buried.
The tower is circular to the top, now covered by a pyramidal roof of red tiles with a flame on top. The church is also roofed in red tiles, with unusual stepped gables to the nave, built in red brick in 1633.
Just inside the south door, on the west wall, are traces of painting, though it is now impossible to be sure what it depicted. The font is a modern version of a style from the 12th century. The elaborate Rood screen is partly made of 15th century woodwork, but it was rebuilt in 1905.
A rare survival is the poor box, made by from wood turned on a lathe, probably in the 16th century. It has three locks, so it could only be opened in the presence of the Parson and both Churchwardens. Local legend says it was used to get offerings from the 12th century pilgrims, but it is of the style popular in the 16th century.
There is quite a bit of medieval glass, which has been restored and re-set here. In the north-east window are two 14th century angels with green wings in the apex, 15th century roundels showing parts of the “Nunc Dimittis”, a shield for the de Walpole family, a king’s head, a man with a scholar’s cap (possibly St Gregory) and another head. Opposite is St Barbara holding a castle c.1470, with half a St Gabriel next to her. Nearer the door are parts of a 15th century Annunciation scene with the Blessed Virgin Mary, and perhaps St Catherine. The north chancel has a later glass roundel of a Mater Dolorosa (sorrowful Virgin Mary).
There are two shroud brasses in the chancel floor, the west one for Thomas Tyard Vicar †1505, the smaller one possibly for Philip Tenison, Archdeacon, †1660. At the east end of the south choir stalls is a chalice brass for another Vicar, William Richers †1531. In the centre of the nave is another brass for a civilian Robert Grote †1531. The brass for his wife Agnes is missing.
I did not do this church justice when I was inside, as I only took a couple of photos, not realizing that here is in fact a lot to see and discover. Therefore, this is definitely a church to be urgently revisited, with an adequate number of detailed photos to be taken.