Swainsthorpe St Peter
St Peters church is located in Swainsthorpe, a Norfolk village about 4 miles south of the City of Norwich on the A140 Ipswich road.
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Visiting Swainsthorpe St Peter
St Peter’s church in Swainsthorpe is located just to the west of the A140 Norwich to Ipswich road. It has very limited opening hours, meaning you need to plan your visit carefully ahead, what we need to do ourselves again, as the quality and quantity of the photos is well below my today’s standards.
This is another tower that had a 14th century octagonal belfry added to its earlier circular part. This stage is now rendered, but still supports a flint battlemented parapet, with a ring of heads on the angles. It is difficult to date the earlier part of the tower, but there is a hint of herring-bone work, where the layers of stones are slanted in alternate rows, to give an <<<<<< appearance, so maybe it can be attributed to the 11th century. Certainly the west quoins of the nave could also be of that era, as they are formed of flints and Roman tiles. The tower now has a 14th century ground floor window, with above it a slit window framed with flints, and there is another similar blocked one on the south side. The Roman tiles could have come from somewhere in connection with the Pye Road not far away, which ran from Caister to Colchester. There are also the faint remains of a blocked circular window in the south nave, just above the east slope of the porch roof. It has Roman tiles forming its fragmentary arch, with a sort of V at the top. There are also many pieces of tile within the flint fabric of the south nave. The nave windows are now 15th century, but on the north side an aisle was added in the 14th century, which still retains its curving tracery in its east window. Where this aisle joins the nave there is evidence that the north-east nave quoin was formed of flints, a vertical line by the rainwater pipe, and no sign of dressed stone for the corner.
The font is a 19th century replica of a 13th century Purbeck font with two pointed arches on each face of the bowl. The tower arch is tall and has many moulded arches around its top, some carrying down to the ground level. This Church is now used for Community Use, and the pews have been removed from the nave, which makes it seem very spacious (not the state when we visited the church, thus not visible on the slide-show). The 14th century north aisle arcade has two low arches, and one smaller newer one at the east end. This is made of the same stone as the chancel arch, which was made in the 19th century. Above both nave and chancel is a very fine 15th century roof, with many three-quarter angels, albeit with restored wings, resting on clouds on the junctions where the longitudinal beams cross the vertical arch-braced rafters. The angels hold a variety of emblems, such as chalices, harps, crowns, etc. The wall posts supporting the arched braces rest on carved wooden heads of men and of animals, such as lions with their tongues out. The central ridge bosses include dragons and birds with long beaks. The wall plates, along the tops of the walls, have quatrefoil brattishing. The chancel remains as a Holy place, for worship. It has a 15th century piscina, with nine petal-shapes to the bowl and a credence shelf above.