Morningthorpe St John the Baptist
St John the Baptists church is located in Morningthorpe, a Norfolk village about 2 miles east of Long Stratton.
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Visiting Morningthorpe St John the Baptist
Morninghthorpe St John the Baptist belongs to the wonderful Hempnall Group of Parishes. Wonderful because it has been long the practice that all these churches are always open to visitors. And furthermore – important for the Round Tower Churches enthusiast – six of the eight churches have a round tower: Bedingham St Andrew, Fritton St Catherine, Hardwick St Margaret, Morningthorpe St John the Baptist, Topcroft St Margaret and Woodton All Saints, all of which can be found on this website. Only Hempnall St Margaret and Shelton St Mary have square towers. So you can spend a leisurely day in this group of parishes, visiting six Round Tower Churches, and still only have to drive about 20 miles.
The round tower of St John the Baptinst once had an octagonal belfry. It started as a circular 12th century tower, then later an octagonal belfry was added at about the height of the nave ridge. In the 14th century the tower was heightened again, and it was made circular all the way up. The lancet at ridge height has very deep reveals where the octagon was converted to round. This inside octagon was discovered during repairs in 1994/5. The battlemented parapet is a 19th century addition. Just east of the south porch are the remains of a blocked early window, with its arch made of long stones, not set radially. The windows have a fairly standard 15th century pattern of tracery.
The 15th century font is a lion font, with seated smiling lions around the stem, and on the bowl are four seated lions and four demi-angels, with different hair-dos, holding shields. The corona, supporting the bowl, has a circle of angel heads with overlapping wings. These lion fonts are often seen within easy reach of the Norfolk/Suffolk border. The font cover is 19th century.
The 15th century chancel piscina has a tall finial on top of its ogee arch, with elaborate cusping below the arch, and engaged crocketted pinnacles either side. In the spandrels are carvings of a Tudor (double) rose and the head of a leopard with its tongue out. This is the badge of the de la Pole family.
Against the north wall is a tomb chest with some symbols of death, a skull, an hour glass and grave-digger’s tools. It is covered with much heraldry for the Garney Family, although it is not certain whether it was made for Richard Garney †1571 or his great-granddaughter Martha Raworth †1694, whose ledger slab is in front of the altar. The Garney crest is a mermaid, and the shield is silver, with a blue wavy-edged chevron between three black scallop shells.