Norton Subcourse St Mary

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What you need to know about this church

St Marys Church Norton Subcourse

Where to find this church

Church Information

St Marys church is located in Norton Subcourse, a Norfolk village.

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Norton Subcourse St Mary church
Tower from the west
Norton Subcourse St Mary church
Border nave-choir

Visiting Norton Subcourse St Mary

St Mary’s in Norton Subcourse is situated in an area with a high density of Round Tower Churches to the south-east of the River Yare and the Norfolk Broads. 6 other of these churches lie within a radius of 3 miles from this church.

St Mary’s church and tower were probably first built in the 13th century, with nave and chancel under one roof. In the 14th century a College of Secular Priests was established here, which may have led to the need for a larger church. The whole south wall was moved further southwards, leaving the tower off-centre to the present nave and chancel. The tower’s belfry stage was rebuilt in the 19th century, but it still has pointed belfry openings. Lower down are a circle of small lancet windows, three facing north with round heads, and two facing south with pointed heads. There is nothing due west at this stage, but lower down are three similar openings in a vertical line, and there are another one on the north and one on the south. The chancel has a string course all round below the windows, and the east window has very fine reticulated tracery in five lights. The whole church has 14th century window tracery, many with head stops. The College was founded at Raveningham in 1350, moved here in 1387 with twelve Canons (priests), but only for seven years, before moving to Mettingham, where it survived till the Dissolution of Monasteries, Priories, etc. in 1534.

The tower arch is pointed, and is set off centre to the north in the west nave wall. Above it is a blocked stone-framed upper doorway, to access the first floor of the tower. The font is a 13th century Purbeck marble one, which became fashionable after the heavily carved ones of the previous century. Purbeck marble could take a fine polish, so it “dazzled the eyes like a looking-glass”! This font has the usual two pointed-arches on each face of the bowl and stands on eight slender pillars.

The long nave is divided from the long chancel by an 18th century tie beam, with the entrance and exit to the Rood stairs nearby in the north wall. The ceilings are plastered and painted white. The chancel has a 14th century double piscina and a stepped three-seat sedilia, under matching ogee arches, which rise to a foliaged finial. There is a stone string course going all round the inside of the chancel (as well as the one on the outside). These string courses and the double piscina are indicators of being made about 1300.

Some of the fine windows retain fragments of their 14th century glass in the apex. The south-east chancel window has a feathered angel standing on a wheel, a cherubim. One window in the north nave has a blue shield with three gold mitres, for the Diocese of Norwich. The mitres are low crowned, as they were at that time.

Conclusion: long and narrow open and welcoming church

Norton Subcourse St Mary church
Double piscina
Norton Subcourse St Mary church
East wall with font