Cranwich St Mary the Virgin
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St Mary’s church is located in Cranwich, a village in Norfolk right on the A134 a couple of miles north of Mundford. It is pronounced “Cranice”, and there is no “proper” village, only a few scattered buildings.
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Visiting Cranwich St Mary the Virgin
St Mary the Virgin’s church in Cranwich is situated not far away from the A134, and luckily, it is signposted from this main road, otherwise it would be quite easy to miss. But when you enter the churchyard, it is a bit like stepping back in time. This is probably mainly due to the fact of its outer appearance with its thatched roof. Probably all these special churches were traditionally roofed with thatched reeds, and this is one that was returned to thatch in 1974, (it had most recently been covered with slates), and has been re-thatched again in 2011/2. The tower is a simple circular one, but interesting carvings set within three round flint-framed openings below the belfry show that it has early origins, back in the 11th century. The infils are single stone slabs, carved with a pierced knot pattern. The belfry openings are also flint framed with round heads, but have been repaired. Above them is a later battlemented parapet with gargoyles below to allow rainwater to escape from the roof of the tower. The nave is quite narrow and probably is basically the church built with the tower. Its quoins have been replaced with dressed stone, but at the east end of the south nave the base of the quoin is built in flint. The early windows in the nave were made bigger and better and now have early 15th century tracery with square heads. The chancel was built in the 13th century, although its east window of intersecting Y tracery was rebuilt in the 19th century.
The south doorway has a round head, with a band of dog-tooth pattern going round the arch, and is dated about 1200. Parts of the medieval roof timbers are visible, but the nave ceiling was plastered in the early 19th century. The font stands in front of the north doorway and is a plain octagonal one of about 1300. The east gable of the nave is boarded and marks the division between nave and chancel. There is no longer any screen.
The fittings in the chancel are early 19th century, but set into the floor below the north window is an old mensa (altar) stone slab. These were marked by five crosses, one in the centre and one at each corner, for the five wounds that Jesus suffered on the Cross. This one still shows two corner crosses, indicating that it has been used as an altar.