Friday 9 October 2015, and a couple of Norfolk churches. We are on the Sandringham estate, in west Norfolk, near the Wash. Shernborne has a lovely village sign. St Peter’s church Shernborne is in the middle of the hamlet, at TF714624. There is a page about the village here – surprisingly, it isn’t on the Norfolk Church site – and the Diocesan website doesn’t have a tourism page (surely that’s missing a huge opportunity). The main church of the Benefice at Dersingham has a website, but there has been no attempt to make it a Benefice website.
There have been various Saxon finds in the parish, and there was probably a very early church here. The current building was rebuilt in 1898, being paid for by the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. His generosity is remembered. There is also a photo of him outside the church with Princess Victoria of Wales, Miss Charlotte Knollys, George, Duke of York, Prince Alexander of Teck, Victoria Mary Duchess of York, Hon Seymour Fortesque, Alexandra Princess of Wales, Albert Edward Prince of Wales.
A ledger slab on the north wall of the chancel has a fine brass of Thomas Shernborne and his wife Joanna. He is depicted armed, but bare-headed, with his sword suspended and slanting across the front of his fauld and legs. She wears a mantle and gown with a horned headdress. He became Chamberlain to Margaret of Anjou, Henry VI’s queen, and she was the queen’s Lady in Waiting. The family farmed here for about six centuries ending in Cromwell’s time.
I like this window – including Paul making his tents.
There is a lovely chair that apparently came from Holyrood. (I later learned that they have two, and Anmer have another two. Anmer have had theirs’ restored – could they not have worked together?). It is obvious that they do very little as a benefice – which is something that has got to be dealt with. The average congregation is four, and they didn’t even hit double-figures for harvest. Is this one for the Churches Conservation Trust?
The main reason for thinking Churches Conservation Trust is the font. Feast your eyes on this. It is described as “the finest Norman font in the country”, and none of us would argue. There are four by the same craftsman – the other three are at Sculthorpe, South Wootton and Toftrees. I don’t need to describe it – just look! At the time of the Conquest, Edwyn had been the Lord of Shernborne until he was ejected. The manor was given partly to William de Albini, the Conqueror’s butler, and partly to Berner, captain of the Conquerors archers. Edwyn pleaded that he had not opposed the Conqueror and was allowed to retain 300 acres. How did it survive the last nine hundred years, and what will the next nine hundred see in the life of this church?