Gayton Thorpe St Mary

What you need to know about this church

St Mary's Church Gayton Thorpe

Where to find this church

Church Information

St Mary’s church is located in Gayton Thorpe, a small Norfolk village ten miles east of Kings Lynn.

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Tower from the west
Gayton Thorpe St Mary
15th century font

Visiting Gayton Thorpe St Mary

Gayton Thorpe is a really small village, consisting of a couple of houses, a farm, and of course the church of St Mary. The tower here is rather more oval in plan than round, a fact that can best be seen by the drone footage in the slideshow! Its lower seven feet largely consists of blocks of carstone, of the usual ginger colour, but also the local silver carstone (unaffected by iron staining). The fabric then changes to flint rubble till six feet below the belfry where it chances to larger cut flints. Perhaps this marks the rebuild of an earlier belfry, with the present one dating to circa 1140. It has four round-headed, chevron patterned arches above recessed double arches with pointed heads, for its belfry openings. There are two string courses, at sill level and at the springing of the arches, the lower one having a zig-zag pattern. The first floor west window is original, flint-framed but with an inner frame of dressed stone. The lower window is an addition, cut through an existing wall. The tower actually partially covers an 11th century arch in the west nave wall. This was the entrance to the earlier church.

It appears that the north walls have been moved further north, the nave one by about four feet, and the chancel one about two feet. Possibly the chancel arch was also widened to the north. It does not have side pillars, but rests on corbels with heads below.

The chancel has a white and gold painted reredos and screen centrally across its east wall, although the east window is not in the centre (because of the north wall being moved out). The dropped-sill sedilia has stone arm rests dividing the three seats, for the Priest, Deacon and Sub-Deacon to use.

The treasure of this church is its seven sacrament font made about 1450. Forty of these special fonts remain, of which 25 are in Norfolk, (three others also being in round tower churches). The panels of the bowl show E the Blessed Virgin Mary and Child, then the Seven Sacraments: SE Extreme Unction for the dying, S Ordination, SW Matrimony, W Eucharist, NW Penance, N Confirmation, and NE Baptism. The heads have all been bashed about, but the clothing shows fine details.

Conclusion: beautiful open church with a spectacular font

Nave view east
View into the chancel