Geldeston St Michael
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St Michael’s church is located in Geldeston, a small Norfolk village close to the Suffolk border, and on the end of navigation of the Norfolk Broads.
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Visiting Geldeston St Michael
St Michael’s church is located in Geldeston to the north of the small village centre. It is locked, but a note where to find a key was displayed on our visit. As we were walking from the mooring at the Locks Inn (formerly our favourite pub in Norfolk, and still our favourite mooring on the Broads), it was quite a detour we had to make to be finally able to see the interior of the church.
It had much restoration work done in the 19th century, particularly visible in the windows, but the tower has medieval brick putlog holes (for medieval scaffolding) among the flints, indicating it was probably originally built in the 14th century. It is circular all the way up, but the top 16 feet were removed and rebuilt to a height of 12 feet in 1814. This belfry has a pattern of dark flints in tall vertical panels set into the grey brick, which is also used for the parapet. A north transept was added in 1864. The chancel was completely rebuilt and made three feet longer in 1864-6
The south porch is believed to have been given by Ralph Garnay in the 15th century, as his arms, now very worn, were visible below the niche above the entrance. There are shields at the top of this entrance, showing the Trinity symbol on one side, and the Instruments of the Passion (Cross, crown of thorns, spear, nails, etc) on the other side. The porch is faced with cut flints.
The font is a lion font, with four tall seated lions around the stem. These fonts are so often found along the Norfolk/Suffolk border. Around the bowl Tudor roses and fleurons alternating with the Trinity symbol, a cross Moline (split ends), and shields for the Bigod (plain cross), and for Garnay (chevron between three cinquefoils) impaling Bigod. The Latin inscription on the base suggests that the font was given by the son of William Garnay and his wife, Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Ralph Bigod. She died in 1415.
The 19th century transept has two arches supported by an amazing marble pillar with an exuberantly carved capital of flowers. There are also elaborate corbels in the chancel, the north-west one showing the serpent tasting the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
The east window glass by Leonard Walker was inserted in 1957, and shows Christ in Glory, with smaller panels of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God, top right), fishes, chalice and wafer, three nails, and the fruits of the earth.