"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Sunday, 22 October 2017

NORFOLK - Day 1 Thursday, 19th October - Titchwell NR, St Mary's Burnham Deepdale, Morston Quay

B and I spent a couple of days in North Norfolk at the end of last week.

It was dry when we left home but by the time we had joined the M6 the rain had started.

Just past Peterborough the rain was easing off but there was a lot of low cloud over the fens.

Luckily by the time we reached Norfolk

the rain finally stopped although it was very dull and gloomy.

We arrived at RSPB Titchwell Marshes Nature Reserve late morning and after eating sandwiches in the car set off to explore the reserve - this was only my second visit.

Titchwell Marsh is part of a network of immensely valuable wildlife sites in Europe called Natura 2000. The reserve has been under threat from the effects of coastal change, increasing storm events and the impact of rising sea-levels. To combat these threats the RSPB has re-aligned sea defences to the north and reinforced some banks to the west and east. The measures taken should protect the site for at least 50 years.

The reserve has a wonderful mix of habitats - lagoons, reedbeds, tidal and freshwater marshes, beach, sand-dunes, woodland and wet meadows. There are many trails you can follow - the West Bank path, Fen Trail, Meadow Trail, East Trail and Autumn Trail. We decided to follow the West Bank Path to the beach and also spend time in the Parrinder Hides.

Island hide and freshwater marsh

We saw many Redshank on the marshes plus several Curlew.

Parrinder Hides

Black-tailed Godwit - sorry not the best of photos!

Finally, we arrived at the beach which is vast!

Timothy came too - he was very annoyed I hadn't packed his hat and coat!

After a walk along the beach - lots of Oystercatchers - we returned to the Parrinder Hides. To be honest the waders and ducks were really too far away to get any decent photos. The highlight was a flock of hundreds of Golden Plover.


I saw several new species for the year - Golden Plover, Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit but sadly no Bearded Tits a species which continues to elude me!!!

I was determined this time to try and visit one or two Norfolk churches. Somehow I managed to persuade B to stop at Burnham Deepdale at St Mary's. I left him reading the paper in the car so it was only to be a brief visit :( It was only 4.00 p.m. but being so dull and gloomy it looked as though it was almost dusk so photography was a challenge and photos are not of the best especially inside the church.

St Mary's has three particularly outstanding features - an Anglo-Saxon round tower, a Norman font which shows the labours of the months and a fine collection of medieval stained glass.

Plants in walls

The Round Tower is around 950 years old and it is capped with a lead roof (at one time the roof was tiled) and a weather vane.

Round Towers are a unique feature of East Anglia where around 175 from the Saxon and Norman periods still survive. Prior to the Norman Conquest in 1066 this region was able to construct churches using flints and conglomerate/puddingstone rather than dressed stone because they avoided problems encountered with corners when using such materials by creating round rather than square towers. These towers held bells to summon people to church.

Restorations of the church took place in 1797, 1855 and 1898.

The Norman font was once located in the North Aisle but during the 1797 restoration it was broken as it was moved and was taken to a nearby rectory for repair. It stayed in the garden for the next 40 years! before being returned to the church. The font is made from Barnack stone from Rutlandshire and shows the farming year from a labourer's point of view.

January - Drinking from a horn
February - Feet up by the fire
March - Digging
April - Pruning
May - Rogationtide Banner
June - Weeding
July - Mowing
August - Binding a sheaf
September - Threshing
October - Grinding corn
November - Pig killing
December - Feasting together

The west side features the Tree of Life.

The tower floor contains tiles and a child's stone coffin lid which is 3 feet long and has a simple cross and shaft.

Stained Glass

Fragments of medieval glass are found in many of the church windows. In the medieval period people thought of the glass as jewels and they were originally made from yellow or green pot-metal glass which came from France or Germany. The colour blue was created using cobalt and red was formed from copper oxide.

By the early 14th century a golden colour was given to the glass by using silver nitrate - an idea which originated in France. The renowned Norwich glaziers thrived up until the time of the Reformation and they belonged to the artist's trade guild - the Guild of St Luke. The glaziers had to serve a 7 year apprenticeship and it is good to know that at least one woman was a member of the Guild. As centuries have passed the windows have got broken, damaged and re-leaded so now only fragments of the originals remain.

The windows in the porch contain fragments of 15th century glass. They are known as the Sun and Moon due to the heads at the top of each.

The North Aisle West Window probably contains the most important pieces of medieval glass - sadly the pictures aren't brilliant. The window includes a Merchant's Mark, musical angels, the emblem of the Trinity,Rose-en-soleil, St Ursula, crossed arms, heraldic roses, music and the inscription "Gelda" suggests the patronage of a local Guild.

East Window

It was difficult to get a photo of this window as it was behind the pulpit but it contains red and blue medieval glass giving the effect of jewels.

It was a shame I didn't get a sharper photo of the window in the tower which contains many 15th century blue glass fragments. The window features an angel pulling chains and below can be seen Mary Magdalene in a pink robe with a gold border holding a scroll.

After I had looked round the church we continued our journey passing The Tower Windmill which is a National Trust holiday property sleeping 19!

We stopped off at Morston Quay to check the time of boat rides the next day to see seals on Blakeney Point - there was only one at 9.30.

Then back to Stiffkey where

we were stopping at the Red Lion. (We had a super meal at this pub on our visit a few years ago when we had a self catering cottage in Blakeney.).

Most of the photos (apart from a few in the church taken with my Olympus dslr) were taken with the Canon Bridge Camera SX50.

Reference: Leaflet on St Mary's Church, Burnham Deepdale, compiled by the Church Tours Committee in 1984
A Tour of the Medieval Glass in the Church of St Mary, Burnham Deepdale by the Reverend Chris Wood, Rector 2010

Many thanks to Pete from the Quacks of Life Blog (see link on the right under "My Blog List") for church suggestions and confirming some bird identifications.


Photos for John Scurr - cropped versions of top and bottom of window referred to in the latter part of your comment. Sorry not the best quality to put it mildly the light was awful! but you may be able to make out a bit more detail.


John Scurr said...

What a lovely piece of coast to enjoy.

I can't believe that having passed Burnham Deepdale Church so many times I have never gone in and had a proper look.

I love that window showing the Parable of the Sower. So much is accurate, the thorns are clearly brambles, but what happened to the birds? I think you would be hard pressed to put names to any of them! I guess that the dedicatee (Horatio Bolton) was a Man of Norfolk named after the most famous Man of Norfolk from Burnham - Horatio Nelson. (When I tried to check this I was wrong, Bolton was born in Suffolk, he had married a girl from Burnham).

Interesting also the stained glass. Rose en Soleil, the emblem of Edward IV. The bottom rose on the diamond and another partial to the left. But what are the other bigger two white flowers on circular pieces of glass. Not roses because they have pointed petals and also because there are 4 rings of petals giving 20 petals in all. I can't ever recollect seeing this before. Then there are the radiating rays of the sun all round the flower. I am afraid I have no idea what this would be.

Lovely posting and reminds me of many happy trips to North Norfolk.


Pam said...

Those Bearded Tits!! Aren't they the most elusive things! I would love to visit Titchwell, it looks like you had a good couple of days :)

Ragged Robin said...

John Scurr - Thank you so much for your lovely and very interesting comment - you have set me thinking again about that window!! :) I remember you posting about walking along the Norfolk coast sometime back - they were such wonderful posts :)

It is well worth popping in the church when you return to Norfolk. In fact, Norfolk seems blessed with the most wonderful churches many are open too - a bonus. I got a very useful booklet last year from the Norfolk Tourist Office (Norwich office). They sent it me in the post and it was free called "Exploring Norfolk Churches 2016". I'll add a link to the Norwich Diocese Church of England website that shows this year's version. https://shop.dioceseofnorwich.org/products/open-churches-booklet
or you could email the tourist office.

I have added two more cropped photos of the window at the very bottom of my post - the first shows more detail of the top of the window. Sorry photo quality is dire but the light was truly awful. Below I'll add word for word what the two guides said about the window

From the Church Guide " the W window of the N aisle has a really perfect little emblem of the Holy Trinity showing God the Father holding Jesus his Son on the cross with a dove for the Holy Spirit flying down to us. The word "Geld" at the bottom tells us that a local Guild was a donor of some of this glass. A merchant's mark at the apex signifies another donor. All this is 15th century glass".

From the Reverend Wood's information sheet. "The North Aisle, West Window - This window contains perhaps the most important pieces of medieval glass to be found in the building. The roundel of the Trinity is mid 15th century and is similar to one found in Thurton church. The queen carrying arrows is of slightly later date and is most probably St Ursula. At the top of the window you can see a merchant's mark. One angel has a splendid feathered hat and there are at least six more perhaps engaged in musical activity. Below these there is a quarter of a face, perhaps of God the Father, with a typical "Norwich School of Glazier's" nose. Other 15th century pieces include crossed arms, heraldic roses, music and an inscription, "Gelda" indicating the patronage of a local Guild in this church. Nearer to the base is a green roundel of 14th century glass and others showing flowers and an "IHS" symbol of the name of Jesus".

Sadly this does not anwswer your fascinating question as to what the flowers or sun rays are!

On the parable of the sower window the Rev does not comment but the church guide says" The nave SE window of 1873 illustrates the parable of the sower".

Thanks again for setting me thinking :) - the church is well worth a visit - the font is amazing!

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thanks so much :) I am sure you would love Titchwell even if the Bearded Tits are so elusive!!! :) Perhaps we should have gone up to the Lake District instead and called in on Leighton Moss!! So pleased you finally caught up with the species - it has given me hope!! :)

Rosie said...

How wonderful to have a few days in Norfolk. Lovely photos of the curlew and black tailed godwit, also lovely photos of the church both inside and out. The windows are amazing as is the font, I've never seen anything like that before:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thank you - it was good to get away even for a short break before autumn and then winter set in! I could spend weeks visiting Norfolk churches - the font was just superb as was the medieval stained glass and I loved the round tower on the church :)

amanda peters said...

Apart from the gloomy weather it all looks rather nice and I too would enjoy a visit.
Titchwell looks a great place for birds, Photos of the Black-tailed Godwit are very good.
Not sure I have seen a church with a round tower, very interesting as is the Font, and the tiled floor with the child's coffin. Beautiful windows.
A great start to your few days in Norfolk.
Amanda xx

John Scurr said...

Thanks for the clearer photo of the upper part of the window. I now realise just how many of the diamond shaped Roses en Soleil there were in the window. That must have been an amazing window that they all came from. So sad that so many of the Norfolk windows were destroyed during Cromwell's times.

I have found a good website on Norfolk Glass which has an entry for Burnham Deepdale. It lets you see some of the windows in more close up by clicking on the information button at the bottom of each mini picture. And some of them have a further zoom in facility beyond that. Unfortunately it has no more information than what you have gleaned from the information sheet.


The Church's web-site says that "Our Medieval Glass is now back in place having been fully restored over the last 6 months." So maybe when I walked past in May I would have been unlucky and the windows may not have been there. Definitely worth another visit to Norfolk for this and other churches. Funny when I was last going there regularly it was nearly always just to look at the birds.


Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters Thanks so much Amanda - you would love it there for wildlife and churches :) What struck me the first time we went was just how many birds there were - everywhere you look. Saltmarshes so atmospheric too. I think you only get round tower churches in East Anglia - it is thanks to Twitter that I first learned about them.

John Scurr - Thanks so much for your further comment. As you say those churches must have been unbelievably magnificent before Cromwell's times. So sad that so much destroyed due to Reformation and Cromwell.

Thank you too for the website link on Norfolk glass - I can see I shall be spending some time there!

That is interesting about the medieval glass only recently being restored - I was lucky!!

Definitely worth visiting Norfolk churches - many have medieval graffiti too. Unfortunately my husband does not like churches at all so my time visiting them was somewhat limited! But I did pop in the one at Little Snoring - will do the second post in a few days. I wanted to go to Norfolk too initially for the birds and wildlife but as my interest in churches has grown over the last few years so I realised that Norfolk had other attractions :) Do hope you can visit some there soon.

Bovey Belle said...

What a wonderful post. You certainly had a lovely weekend (envious!) Norfolk is one of the few counties I have not visited (yet). What a fabulous beach (we are lucky in Carms, and have fabulous sandy beaches here too, and hardly anyone on them).

The church is so interesting, especially for its round tower, FABULOUS font, and the lovely stained glass. That really is something to see. I'm trying to plan my husband's birthday day out, but sadly Norfolk is a tad too far!

Ragged Robin said...

Bovey Belle - Thank you so much. I have only been once before to celebrate a special birthday. Sadly the weather was atrocious and put the kids off for life!!! But I love it there - so many birds and reserves plus churches galore and most seem open :) I love the beaches you show on your blog.

The church was wonderful - felt a bit guilty leaving OH sat in car but it was the only way I was going to visit some of the churches!! Yes Norfolk would be a tad too far for you. Titchwell is 2 hours 50 minutes from here without a break! Hope you can get there one day.

Pete Duxon said...

pleased you enjoyed your trip! Lots of amazing churches in Norfolk. you'll have to go again

Pete Duxon said...

does Timothy Bear need a twitter account........ ;)

Ragged Robin said...

Pete Duxon - Thanks Pete and thanks again for your help - much appreciated :) Just mentioned going again to OH - he seems open to the idea although I am not quite sure how many churches he would let me visit!!!

Still pondering about Timothy Bear and Twitter!! :)