Rushall St Mary the Virgin
St Mary the Virgins church is located in Rushall, a Norfolk village about 6 miles east of Diss.
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Visiting Rushall St Mary
St Mary’s in Rushall is one of the churches where I cannot remember much about our visit; apart from the fact that it was open, and the interior looked rather modern and well kept.
In the mid 14th century this round tower was added to an earlier nave as there is a vertical joint between the round part and the straight west nave wall. There is no sign of a belfry within the circular part and inside the roundness continues up into the octagon. The lowest part of the belfry quoins is formed of three stones, but then there is a change of plan, and the quoins are made of red brick, there are more bricks in the fabric, and the internal shape also becomes octagonal. Possibly there was a pause in the building due to a visitation of the plague and fewer masons available? There is a step-in, to reduce the thickness of the wall, about level with the eaves of the nave. In the second stage is a blocked circular opening. In the 17th or 18 th century a clock was fitted into an earlier window here. This can be seen more clearly inside, where the opening has a pointed arch and the brickwork goes right through the wall. Subsequently the clock was removed and more adjustments were made to the surface of the wall. From about the 15th century there was also a spiral tower stair case added on the south side, but that was removed in the 19th century. The church is basically 13th century and the chancel still has the lancet windows of that time, though the east one on the north is a 19th century replacement. The south nave now has 15th century large windows.
The woodwork of the south door has tiny carvings of roses and crowns on the vertical struts, perhaps symbols of the Blessed Virgin Mary? Just inside the door is another small door that opened into the tower stair turret, which has disappeared, so this is now a cupboard. The font was probably installed in 1878. On the north side of the nave is a blocked arch, which formerly opened into a chapel, the Holy Trinity Chapel. The neighbouring small doorway once gave access to the Rood stairs.
The chancel has two 13th century lancets in its east wall, whereas most often there are three or five. In the sanctuary is a curious prayer desk, with intricate pierced and painted wood, possibly of Spanish origin. The more usual priest’s desk, at the west end of the chancel, has a front panel of open tracery and two keeling angels with clasped hands facing the priest.