South Pickenham All Saints
Click onto the photo to open the lightbox, navigate with the arrows
All Saints church is located in South Pickenham, a Norfolk village about 4 miles south of Swaffham.
* denotes external links that open in a new window
Visiting South Pickenham All Saints
There is not much I remember about our visit of All Saints church in South Pickenham, apart from the fact that we had to collect a key from a displayed address, and of course the unusual organ. Sadly, as the acny.org.uk website states, this church can now only be visited by prior arrangement.
In 1604 the whole roof of All Saints church was carried away in a storm. In 1737 there was a restoration, with the nave walls being raised three feet. The chancel was re-roofed at a lower level than before, which left the east window in its ogee-gabled wall with nothing behind its upper tracery of 14th century reticulated pattern. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that the roof was restored to its full height. The church walls show many signs of old windows being blocked and new ones cut through in different places, and buttresses have been added. The tower is basically 12th century; in the 15th century an octagonal belfry replaced the earlier one. Near the top of the flint circular part is a band of stone and above that there are 19th century bricks inside, so maybe the belfry and parapet were restored then. On the west wall of the tower, at about ten feet high, is a slit window, with dressed stone for its frame and a single stone for its lintel, in which an arch is cut.
There is an organ gallery at the west end of the nave, below which is kept a stone coffin, and also part of a medieval mensa slab, with one cross still showing. The font is 14th century, with the shafts from its stem curving out to embrace the bowl, which has a quatrefoil on each face. The organ was rescued from the disused West Tofts Church in 1950 and came here in 1964. It was made by Baron de Bethune in Ghent in 1857, and its painted wings are by Bruno Bouquillon of Antwerp. The wings show the Nativity and the Adoration of the Magi. The nave roof was made in 1737, and has carved demi-angels along its wall plate. Near the gallery, on the south wall, is a 14th century wall painting of St Christopher carrying the Christ Child. There are traces of other paintings opposite on the north wall and in the reveal of the south-west chancel wall are the remains of a black-letter text, perhaps 16th century. The 18th century pulpit, with a carved frieze round its panels, and standing on bun feet, came here in 1973 from a private chapel in Herefordshire. The chancel has an angle piscina, with two trefoiled arches divided by a shaft, and trefoils in the spandrels above. On the floor below are parts of a coffin slab and more bits of the mensa slab. Mensa stones were used for altars pre the 16th century Reformation, and are marked with five crosses, one at each corner and one in the centre, to remember Christ’s wounds on the Cross.