Blickling, Norfolk – St Andrew

Blickling Hall is one of my favourite National Trust properties – website. The parish church of St Andrew is on the right of this top photo, right at the entrance of the Hall – grid reference TG 178285. There is a sign outside it, and another lovely welcome as you enter – but it is rather hidden from the main NT entrance, courtyard and café (and the biggest second-hand bookshop in the country). The first task is to sit down with the Property Team and see if there can be some better signposting – a greater percentage of visitors need to be encouraged to walk up to, and enter, the church. A mention of the church on the NT website wouldn’t go amiss either. (Please don’t think I am the expert on publicity – I need to remember to tweet the church telling them I’ve blogged them).

Inside the church is a nice leaflet “An architectural delight in a beautiful rural parish”, and they have a good website. There was also a leaflet for the Norfolk Scrapbox – website – a way of recycling art material, a charity called Art Alive in Churches – website – which looks worth an explore, a Diocese of Norwich initiative called Inspired Classrooms – website – have I got time to look at all these websites? There’s an Escape Game, called The Queenmaker run in the church by a company – website. There is a superbly produced leaflet for The 12 Towers Festival through the summer – the twelve towers presumably being the Aylsham Team Ministry – website. It is wonderful to find a Festival leaflet which lists acts of worship as normal parts of the Festival, which has church events, community events, everything in together. I wish I lived nearer. Two things are missing from the church – (1) the booklet listing all the Norfolk churches, (2) a simple map and trail suggesting other nearby churches worth visiting. Use the tourist hot spots like Blickling to inform the tourists where they can visit.

Let’s start with the font – and, again, what excellent, simple cards to help explain what it is. The guidebook links the font with the CE website, something I’ve never thought of doing; what a brilliant idea. The font dates to the C15, with later colouring – I love the cuddly lions. (“I’m a very friendly lion called Parsley”). It’s a C20 cover, in memory of Alice Graves who died in 1936, with a striking pelican finial.

At the east end of the South Aisle is the largest of several brasses in the church. Sir Nicolas Dagworth, died 1401, built the first house at Blickling Manor. He was a soldier, diplomat and important aid to Edward III. I like the military curtains over the north door.

Looking along the church from the font, it is a building dating back to the C13, but with a lot of Victorian work. William Butterfield (1814-1900) and George Edmund Street (1824-81) both had a hand in it – the porch (which you can look at as we leave) was added by Street in 1876, but  he kept the C13 south doorway with its single order of colonnettes flanking the door and supporting a fine pointed arch. The most eye-catching piece of Victoriana in church is the memorial to William Kerr, 8th Marquess of Lothian (1832-70). The memorial dates to 1878 and is by George Frederic Watts. An identical version of the tomb, but without the angels, is in Jedburgh Abbey in Scotland, where the Marquess is buried.

There is a notice apologising for the mess, as the church is home to a colony of bats. The guidebook states that “Blackling Parish Church is privileged to be the home to a colony of bats.” The church runs Bat nights (come and discover the poo), and I salute them for coping with what seems to be such good humour – Ponteland has bats, and I wasn’t always good humoured while wiping down the altar before an 8 am celebration on a Sunday morning. My fear is how much their poo (and everything else) is damaging the monument (and everything else).

As a bearded priest, I am impressed with the quality of Blicking beards!

This memorial in Chancel is to Elizabeth Gurdon, died 1582 – she died of a cold while visiting Sir Edward Clere.  Sir Edward (1536-1606) is buried in the tomb-chest – he inherited the Blickling Estate from his great uncle, Sir James Boleyn in 1561, was knighted by Elizabeth I in 1580, but squandered his fortune and died a bankrupt. He now supports the Prayer Tree!

I didn’t make a note of these different tombs and memorials – but I do think the carving on the War Memorial is especially fine. (I can’t find out who carved it).

A couple of nice stained glass windows, and the Lady Chapel altar is very useful for Prayer requests – that is what we’re open for! I lit a candle. Thank you, good people of Blickling, for welcoming us.

I went outside and admired the flint work, before going back to see if my wife had finished exploring the National Trust’s biggest second-hand bookshop (no, she hadn’t).

Eventually I dragged her away and we explored the garden.

 

 

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