"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

Thursday, 26 October 2017

NORFOLK - Day 2: Friday 20th October - NWT Cley Marshes and St Andrew's, Little Snoring

It was raining early on Friday morning so we decided against the seal trip to Blakeney Point and returned to plan B which was to visit the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Reserve at Cley Marshes which was only a few miles away.

Cley Marshes was bought by the founder of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Sydney Long, in 1926 and it was the first Wildlife Trust reserve in the country and began the movement which led to the eventual formation of 42 Wildlife Trusts.

In the Middle Ages Cley marshes were covered by the sea at high tide and boats were able to travel along channels into the harbour near Cley church. "The Eye" an area of higher ground was then an island surrounded by marshland. In 1649 banks were constructed to protect the village from flooding by the sea and to provide more land for animal grazing.

Habitats on the present day reserve include saltwater and freshwater marshes, grazing land, scrape pools, a coastal shingle ridge and reed beds - sections of the latter are cut in winter to create reed beds of varying ages to attract a wide variety of bird species. The cut reeds are sold and used as a material for thatching.

It is a superb reserve for birds with such "goodies" as Bitterns, Avocets, Bearded Tits,
Pink-footed Geese etc., and mammal species such as Water Voles and Otters.

As the rain had now stopped we headed off first for the hides that overlooked Whitwell and Simmond's Scrapes and Pat's Pool.

The windmill in nearby Cley.

Avocet, Dawke's and Teal Hides - all thatched.

View from one of the hides

Pink-footed Goose (a "life" tick for me)

Timothy silhouetted - enjoying his birdwatching but still exceedingly miffed that he was minus a coat, hat and mittens!

We retraced our steps and walked to Bishop's Hide that overlooked Pat's Pool and Carter's scrape . Highlight of the walk was a Stonechat sighting - no photo I am afraid the camera focused on the background and left the bird a blur!!!

At this stage it looked as if it was brightening up as the clouds cleared and the sun came out but it was not to last.

View from Bishop's Hide


The real highlight from visiting this reserve was a sighting of not one but two Marsh Harriers. We watched them interacting with each other and hunting for about ten minutes. The last time I saw this species was many years ago at Leighton Moss.

Speck in the centre of the photo below is a Marsh Harrier - to be honest I couldn't be bothered using the zoom and trying to get a photo - I was happy just to watch them.

We had planned to walk along the East Bank to the shingle ridge and beach but it was starting to rain as we came out of the hide so we returned to the visitor centre for tea and cake.

The visitor centre is superb with a cafe with views over the reserve, a gift shop, exhibition area and education centre. It is eco-friendly with a green sedum roof, green technology including a wind turbine, ground source heat pumps, solar water heating and a rainwater harvesting system.

Ruth Galloway books by Elly Griffiths on sale in the shop :) Driving around this coast brings the books to life especially when seeing the salt marshes and when we drove past Briarfields (we nearly stayed overnight there) which is mentioned in the "The Woman in Blue" which I have just finished reading.

Rather than following the coast road after leaving Cley we cut across country to King's Lynn before making our way home. I managed to persuade B to stop off at the village of Little Snoring (I kid you not - what a great name for a village!) so I could visit another round tower church.

According to the church guide book EK Wall's "English Place Names" says that the names of Great and Little Snoring originate from the first wave of Saxon invaders in ~450 AD. They were settlements of Snear's people (Snear was a Saxon invader who had the nicknames of "Swift", "Bright" or "Alert"). Little Snoring is located in the ancient "Hundred" of Gallow.

The church of St Andrew with a detached round tower dates from the Saxon period with a llth century nave and was built where the ground rose and is separated from the village by a stream. The church is dedicated to St Andrew who was an Apostle and brother of St Peter. Many East Anglian churches are dedicated to St. Andrew.

The round tower at this church was built before the Norman Conquest. Many of these towers are close to the sea or an estuary suggesting that they may have been look-out towers for invaders or used as a place of refuge. The windows are usually very small suggesting a defensive function. The tower here has small slit windows with trefoil heads and just one working bell inscribed "Pack and Chapman of London fecit 1770". The present conical tiled roof probably dates from around 1800.

The South Doorway consists of 3 arches - the innermost is a Norman round arch, surrounding this Pevsner suggests that the stone of what was once a broad round arch was re-assembled to crate a narrow, sharply pointed arch. The arch continues with Early English (c1250) capitals decorated with foliage. Apologies for poor quality of photos - it was around 3.30 p.m. dull and gloomy with very low light.

The font is "Norman" and has a round bowl decorated with foliage.

The piscina (where chalices were washed) in the Chancel dates to ~1250.

The windows range in age from Norman to Tudor - once they probably contained stained glass which was smashed after the Reformation.

This window is dated to c.1330 - "Decorated" or "reticulated"

This window is dated to c1250 - "Early English"

These windows located on the side of the Chancel are dated to the reign of Elizabeth I = c1580

I didn't like to spend too much time in the church as B was sat in the car (this time without a paper to read!!) and so managed to miss a rare coat of arms of James II and a plaque with records of members of the RAF who used the church when flying from Little Snoring airfield in World War 2.

It was a lovely break although I wish we could have stopped longer. I could spend months exploring Norfolk with all it's wildlife reserves, beautiful churches and picturesque towns and villages.

All photos taken with the Canon Bridge SX50

Reference : Information leaflet on NWT Cley Marshes

Guide Book to the Church of St Andrew Little Snoring by Ann and John Gurney

Thanks again to Pete from The Quacks of Life


Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Beautiful. Saw my first golden plovers in Norfolk, at Burnham on Sea (???) in a sort of marshy eco system behind a beach

Midmarsh John said...

Fascinated by the round tower. Can't say I have ever seen one, not on a church anyway.

BTW. My copy of Hidden Hisories finally arrive earlier this week. Had a quick look at every page. Plenty to have a go at and the way it is laid out makes it easy to find information.

Ragged Robin said...

Simon Douglas Thompson Thanks Simon - Norfolk is an amazing place for birds :)

Midmarsh John - Thank you - I think the Round Towers on churches are mainly found in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Glad to hear your Hidden Histories has arrived - I do hope you enjoy it as much as I did - as you say there is so much in there and it will make a superb reference book :)

Rosie said...

It's always good to have a plan B and NWT's Cley Marches looks like a good one. I like the thatched hides, after all the walking you would need the tea and cake and it does look delicious. Great to see the Elly Griffiths novels all together. I always have to smile at the names of Great and Little Snoring, the church looks fascinating with its round tower and flint walls, another unusual font too! It's great that all these churches seem to be open for visitors:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thank you so much. To be honest to get a boat at 9.30 (and you have to be there half an hour early to get tickets) would have been a bit of a rush with having breakfast and checking out (this is from my point of view rather than OH's as I am a night owl and not a morning lark!!).

It was good to see the shop promoting books set locally :) and it was so good, as you say, to find so many churches open each and every day - unlike round here!!!!

amanda peters said...

Shame it had to rain, but you still managed to see some lovely things, I like how they have thatched the hides, as they blend in really well. Still have to see a pink foot, we have had flocks of them flying over but have missed them all. Marsh Harriers what a great bird to watch...CAKE...

Another stunning church, loving the round towers. The Normans sure knew how to decorate a font. There never seems enough time to look round these churches, I always miss something.

You have taken some lovely photos.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks Amanda - at least it wasn't as wet and cold as when we last visited :) I liked the hides too - I am assuming they used reeds from the reedbeds for the thatch? Hope you catch up with pink foot soon. Marsh Harriers were a real treat - living where we do not a bird I see often!!

The churches in that county are amazing - so many old ones. I always miss things too even when I am on my own and have a little more time!!

Deborah RusticPumpkin said...

I think you earned your cake! Mind, shame on you for taking Timothy out so badly under dressed! Tsk Tsk Tsk
Have the recent storms left any major impact? I don't know if you've seen, but over 2/3 of the new born seal pups on Skomer died, and over 90 on Ramsey islands respectively. Heartbreaking news.

Ragged Robin said...

Deborah RusticPumpkin - Thank you :) I need either to knit Timothy some more clothes or buy some!I don't think Build a Bear still do a small range - will have to check!

I've just had a look at NT North Norfolk Twitter feed and can't see any news of problems with Blakeney seal pups - could only see that the first appeared on 23rd October. So sad about those on Skomer and Ramsey :(

Pete Duxon said...

I'm pleased you enjoyed it. Little Snoring is a great name eh :) I'd love to know why the tower is separate!

Ragged Robin said...

Pete Duxon - Thanks so much Pete especially for the suggestion! OH nearly drove off in disgust as it took us ages to find out how to get to church - could see it in distance but kept going round in circles!!! There is something in the church guide about tower being separate. Guide is upstairs back in storage box but I will find it and add another comment later.

Ragged Robin said...

Doh! Guide was down here after all with the other church guides! Can't find a lot on why tower is separate apart from this "Little Snoring and Bramfield,near Southwold in Suffolk, are the only churches in England with detached round towers, both are some 7 to 8 miles from the sea, and both are dedicated to St. Andrew. The eastern side of the tower clearly shows that an ancient church was attached to it..........It has been a puzzle over the years as to why the present church is detached from the tower" - so it appears no-one knows the reason! Although there is a lot more stuff about it from the end of the guide which covers nearly a page so I won't type it all out. But it does say there is another puzzle with the church in that it appears to date from c1100 and c1250. It would appear that the answer to the two puzzles could be that there was originally a small Saxon church attached to the tower (signs of a roofline on eastern side). In c1100 the Saxon church was too small and it was found more convenient to build a new Norman church (or the Saxon church burnt down). When Saxon church was demolished tower was spared and new church was built slightly higher where the ground did not rise so steeply. Then in c1250 more alterations to church took place to make it bigger.

Sorry that probably sounds confusing as I have left loads out so not really sure if your question is answered?? or even if the answer is known for definite. Fascinating places these churches :)

Pam said...

Lovely post, I always hear such good things about Cley, i'd love to visit :)

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thank you - it is superb and I really hope you can visit :) Whole of that North Norfolk coast is good for birds.