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Introduction and Index This volume is in four parts: -

Part One, page 8 A General Description, is a revised version of a general Guide to the Church originally written in 2001 by Peter Horsefield to support the fundraising effort needed to carry out major repairs on the Tower, which was cracked from top to bottom in two places. These repairs were successfully completed. Part One will be sufficient reading for all but those with a special interest in the details of this wonderful church.

Part Two, page 19 The Chancel, was written by Anne Horsefield in response to the English Heritage demand for a researched and documented History of the Chancel as a precondition for the awarding of a Grant to repair the Chancel Roof. The Report was accepted and the Grant was awarded. The repairs were completed in 2010. Sadly Anne did not live long enough to see this work carried out. This is a much more scholarly work than Part One. A copy is lodged in the Norfolk County Archive and it can be downloaded from the Trunch website.

Part Three, page 73 The Font Canopy, was written by Peter Horsefield as a development and completion of extensive research initiated by Anne Horsefield into the obscure or even forgotten symbolism of the many carvings on the Font Canopy. Although the content is supported by research, the various interpretations in the literature can be different or even contradictory. The real meaning can only be speculated upon in these modern times. This is original work and has no parallel elsewhere.

Part Four, page 89 The Organ, was written by musical polymath and organ enthusiast John Mason. John is one of the principal organisers of the Trunch Church Concerts that take place throughout the year. Funds from these concerts contributed significantly to the cost of the new and much needed toilet facilities in the Church.

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References The Story of Trunch – Rev J F Goodrich A Trunch Miscellany – Rev M Westney(1978) and Rev J Guyton (1985) The History of an East Anglian Soke – Christabel M Hoare Guide to Norfolk Churches – Mortlock and Roberts Norfolk Churches – H Munro Cautley The Buildings of England, (Norwich and North East) – Nikolaus Pevsner and Bill Wilson England’s 1000 Best Churches – Simon Jenkins Signs and Symbols in Christian Art – George Ferguson Mythical Beasts – John Cherry Bestiary – Richard Barber Wooden Images – Juanita Wood Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols – J. C. Cooper Norfolk Rood Screens – Paul Hurst and Jeremy Haselock Birds of the Western Palearctic, (Non Passerines) – Snow and Perrins Trunch Parish Records Norfolk County Archive

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Warning – this is a Guidebook! In preparing a guide such as this it is obvious that the place to begin is to become familiar with previous work on the subject. The reader will surely be aware of the experience of believing newspaper articles or television programmes until the subject is one that you know about – then mistakes are often noticed. The best guide is to use the Mk1 Eyeball. Sadly, this reveals that even the most prestigious authors can be affected. Here are some examples for St Botolph’s: 1) Nikolaus Pevsner On the aisles: “The aisle windows have purely Perp[endicular] windows flanking a middle window still with reminiscences of the Dec[orated].” This is only true on the South side; the North windows are the other way round. The disposition of the windows is much more interesting than this, as is dealt with later on Page 10. On the Font Canopy: “The upper stage has eight big, somewhat heavy, tripartite hanging vaulted canopies.” The whole structure is based on the hexagonal font. All features are either six in number (as in this case) or subdivisions or multiples of six. There is no “eight” of anything. The Font Canopy is the subject of Section 2 of this monograph. On the hammerbeam roof: “ …the roof was new in 1486”. This might be true but there seems to be no record of this in any of the archives.

2) H Munro Cautley On the Nave “The nave is thatched” This is not true; there is an etching of the church (see later) dated 1816 in which the roof is shown leaded. Rev. Goodrich records that when the nave roof was releaded there were letters cast into the old lead being removed. These included Nave South side 1751; Nave North side 1723 and North Aisle 1719. “Painting of S. Christopher on N. wall” This is not true; there is no painting.

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3) Mortlock & Roberts On the Font Canopy: “..richly carved …[including a pig wearing a bishop’s mitre]” This figure is referred to several times in various books but it does not exist. What there is instead is an ape (or a monkey) with a crosier. 4) Simon Jenkins On the Font “The bowl…is octagonal..” This is simply not true; it is very obviously hexagonal. Sadly, this same basic error is in the “Walkaround Guide” – which you will find on sale in the Church. On the Font Canopy “The composition is more decorative than artistic, and great fun”. Whatever this strange sentence actually means it seems unlikely that life had room for much fun in 1500AD, beset as people were by the plague, wars and social unrest. Religion was the escape and refuge from this dreadful world and was the gateway to the next. Please refer to Part 3 below for more on this topic.

The point in writing the above is not to belittle the hard work of these authors, all of whom deal with a great many churches, not just Trunch, but these examples do illustrate that even those of high repute can be wrong. They might not be alone! *****************************************

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Trunch Village The name “Trunch” is older than written records. The derivation is possibly from a Celtic word meaning “a wood on a promontory”, which the topography would support. This would suggest a Romano-Celtic origin. The village economy has always been based on agriculture and the population has never been large. The current level is double that in 1939. In mediaeval times Norfolk was the richest county in England, its wealth derived from wool. Many great churches were built in Norfolk in the 14th and 15th centuries, including that of Trunch. Some of the farmhouses and buildings of the village are also very old. The village population is currently around 800, of whom almost sixty percent are of pensionable age. A postwar house-building expansion took place to the south and west of the older settlement, so Trunch today is a juxtaposition of ancient and modern, with the older buildings being the farmhouses and manorial buildings plus a cluster of smaller domestic properties around the church. The layout of the village is unusual and interesting in that the farmhouses and farmyards are for the most part together cheek by jowl, whereas their fields are spread in a patchwork across the surrounding country. In the house building boom of the fifties and sixties, many old cottages were demolished, which seems like vandalism today, but the people who lived in them describe them unromantically as cramped, cold, damp and primitive, some with a tin bath by the fire and an outdoor closet. Today, many of the remaining picturesque cottages in the centre of the village are modernised second homes, standing empty much of the year. Sadly, the characterful and ancient “Crown” public house next to the church was destroyed by fire in the nineteen fifties. It was replaced by a contemporary building, where happily the welcome is just as warm and the company is just as good, even if the surroundings are not so picturesque.

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The problems of owning a Parish Church The county of Norfolk has some of the finest mediaeval churches in England and St Botolph’s Church Trunch is held by experts to be one of the best. The church is a Grade 1 Listed Building. This is the highest category; fewer than 3000 churches are Listed Grade 1 in the country. The ownership of and the duty of care for the well being of a Parish Church are the responsibility of the Parish. As with so many of these beautiful mediaeval buildings the Trunch church needs constant maintenance, preservation and restoration requiring the expenditure of large sums of money that are way beyond the capability of the villagers to raise without considerable external help. Any proposed work, even if it is urgent or vital must be planned in conjunction with and be approved by building conservation authorities such as English Heritage; the Diocesan Advisory Committee; the Council for the Care of Churches, the Victorian Society and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. Obtaining agreement and approval from all these bodies can take an unconscionable time. All work must then be supervised by an architect from a list approved by the Diocese and cannot be carried out without formal approval by way of a Faculty. The standards required are of the highest and building works are inevitably costly. Despite the fact that the Diocese has such detailed control these costs fall on the Parish, not the Diocese. It is not difficult to envisage a fairer, more timely and less costly way of looking after our building heritage. The objectives of this guide are to:   

Make people aware of the beauty and history of the church. Encourage people to visit the village and the church. Request help to meet the costs of upkeep of this beautiful and ancient building, which Trunch parish is unfairly expected to bear as local custodians of a national treasure.

We request that anyone who after visiting our church is inspired to make a donation to our Appeal please write a cheque made out to: -

St Botolph’s Church Restoration Appeal And send it to: 8 Primrose Close, Trunch North Walsham Norfolk NR28 0QH England (NB This special bank account belongs to the Parochial Church Council. Funds cannot be used for any purpose other than restoration of the church and can only be released by authorisation of two signatories.) *****************************

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St Botolph’s Church St Botolph’s is featured in many reference books on church architecture. As in most ancient buildings there are traces of architectural features spanning a long historical period, showing that earlier structures were incorporated, that the construction took a long time and that there have been modifications and repairs over the centuries. The church is in the Perpendicular style, 1377-1485, but many features are of the Decorated style, 1272-1377. In the Domesday Book of 1086 there is reference to a church “in Tronchet” with ten acres. This predates the present structure and was probably Anglo-Saxon. There is also a written record of a felon named Walter Helisent seeking sanctuary in Trunch in 1268. Today’s structure is of flint walls with dressed stone at the corners, but incorporating some brown carrstone, probably remnants of the Saxon church. The plan of the existing structure is a chancel, nave and clerestory with aisles to the north and south. There are two porches to the south and at the western end there is a 95-foot tower with diagonal buttresses.

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Church Features The Nave and clerestory The outstanding feature of the nave is the very fine hammer beam roof. This is said to have been rebuilt in 1380. If true, this would seem to be much earlier than any other in Norfolk and earlier than the first properly dated example, that of Westminster Hall, documented as 1394. The roof was repaired and releaded in 1897, with further repairs in 1939. Today it is in fairly good condition.

New fixed pews for 250 people were installed in 1863, together with a new pulpit and reading desk. A contemporary notice still mounted below the tower identifies numbered pews as being for the use of the poor of the parish.

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The clerestory is most interesting, as it has several significant but puzzling features. From outside the church it can be seen that the apex of the roof intrudes into the lower half of the east window in the tower, so the apex must at one time have been lower than it is now.

Also externally, the clerestory windows are quite unlike any of the others in that the arches are flattened and incorporate bricks. This is typically Elizabethan in style, so these windows would seem to be much later than the rest of the church. Internally it can be seen that if the roof apex were much lower than at present it would intrude into the tower arch. There are several possible sequences of building of the clerestory and the changes to the then-existing structure. There are no written records to be found of when this took place or what went on. It seems probable that the clerestory and the hammer-beam roof are contemporaneous but there are no records of the building of either. Highs in the windows of the North side of the Clerestory there are a few scraps of mediaeval stained glass, the only remaining examples in the building.

They depict angels playing various musical instruments. They are quite difficult to see without binoculars.

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The Font and Canopy This stunning structure is described and interpreted in considerable detail in Section 3 of this Guide. What follows here is a brief description of the more obvious visible features.

The limestone font itself is c.1350; the stem, with inset of faced flints, is probably later. These are enclosed within the fantastically carved Canopy, from about 1500AD (possibly contemporary with the rood screen). Although damaged in the middle of the seventeenth century (again as the rood screen) it remains a wonderful and mysterious object. There are only four such canopies in England, the others being at St Peter Mancroft, Norwich (c. 1450); St Mary’s, Luton (c. 1340) and Durham Cathedral (1662). The heavy and complex canopy intricately carved in oak still shows clear signs of its original splendour despite the missing and disfigured pieces. Six carved oak columns support the canopy; each column has five sides. These thirty panels plus their spandrels are finely carved with a great variety of plants, birds, animals and people; most if not all of them are probably symbolic, as described in Section 3. Conservation work was carried out in 1996.

The North Aisle The North windows are a transition between the Decorated and Perpendicular styles. The North Door, next to the modern vestry, is of the Decorated style. The aisle roof is of oak and was restored in 1897. The splendid little chamber organ is by William Gray and dates from 1808. It was rebuilt by local organ builders Williamson and Hyatt in 1957. (Their workshop, now defunct, was handily placed in Front Street, less than 100 yards from the church. The site is now a private house). A detailed history of the organ is in Part 4 of this document. The Aisle windows are interesting. There are three side windows per aisle. They are of two kinds. On the south side the two outer windows are the same; the middle one is different. On the North side the two outer windows are the same as that in the middle of the South side and vice-versa. 12


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The windows at the east and west ends of the aisles also cross-match. The window at the East end of the south Aisle is the same as that at the west end of the North aisle, and vice versa.

The South Aisle The South Aisle windows are a similar mixture of the two architectural styles. The roof is of pine rather than the oak seen elsewhere in the building. The eastern end, now the Lady Chapel, appears to have been an enclosed chapel at some stage. The West end of the aisle now has the newly built toilet facilities.

The Tower This is Decorated style, late 13th/early 14th century. It is not accessible to the public. A cramped and worn circular stone staircase inside the Southwest corner wall leads to the ringing gallery, silence chamber, bell chamber and roof. The ringing chamber is supported by ancient wooden arches, the visible one of which is painted with red roses and (now) brown foliage. Architecturally, there are some signs in the tower that an earlier Decorated style (1272-1377) nave was replaced by the present larger Perpendicular period (1377-1485) structure. At tower roof level are four grotesque gargoyles with lead spouts intact, but these no longer function for rainwater discharge, which is nowadays taken to the north west corner, as can be seen from the ferns growing in the north tower wall below it.

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The Bells The belfry has spaces for four bells but only three bells are present. One bell was scrapped in the 1863 after it became cracked. This bell is recorded as having been made by Thomas Delenne in 1440. The other three are dated 1707,1710 and 1719; the dates are cast into the bells. The bells do not swing. They are “hung dead� and the bell ropes pull the clappers, not the bell. Two of the bells are in their mediaeval oak bell frames, which are no longer capable of supporting their weight. Steel joists now support the belfry floor and these two bells are supported on chocks so that their weight passes directly to these joists. The third mediaeval frame is empty. The fourth frame was rebuilt in oak and this bell can still be rung; though it seldom is. Ringing a fixed bell requires skill; if the clapper is inadvertently held for too long against a ringing bell the bell is quite likely to crack, which is possibly what happened to the missing one. Restoration of the bells to a ringing condition is extremely unlikely, as it would be very costly and at the end of it there would still be only four bells.

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The Porches There are two porches on the south side of the church. The South Chancel Porch is Perpendicular in style enclosing a priest’s door of the Decorated period. From the roof of this porch there is a buttress supporting the chancel wall, which is a rare feature though not quite unique.

The South Porch at the main door is of later construction than the main building – probably 15th century. There are three scratch dials (or Mass Clocks) on its walls. Before the advent of affordable clocks the times of the Masses were determined in this way. Two are external and are badly eroded but still discernible. The one east of the door is now inside the porch so is now in shadow on most days. Obviously it was not like that when in use so clearly the scratch dial predates the building of the porch.

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The Chancel What follows here is a brief description of the more obvious features of the Chancel. For those interested, Part 2 covers a much more comprehensive treatment of the Chancel, including an authoritative researched history. The Chancel is partly early Decorated style, from the early 14th century. It is separated from the nave by a rood screen dating from 1502. There are six 14th Century returned stalls backing onto this rood screen, with splendid misericord seats and carved arm rests.

In the north wall of the chancel there is a “hagioscope”; a hole in the wall by which the altar could be seen from outside. Also known a “squint”, this might have been used by anchorites watching the priest at his duties, but an alternative explanation is that it was for use by lepers, who were not allowed to mix with the congregation. A blocked-up doorway leading to a once-existing 12ft square external room may be evidence of an anchorhold. Neither of these explanations is definitive and they are possibly both wrong. There are traces of a staircase to a rood loft near the pulpit steps.

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In the floor of the chancel, beneath the carpet near the altar, there is a slab to the memory of Horatia Nelson, daughter of Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton, who died in 1881. She was the wife of Revd. Philip Ward, son of a long time Curate of Trunch, Revd. Marmaduke Ward. She is not buried in Trunch, however.

The chancel has a porch to the south, said to have been used by the monks of Bromholme Abbey, (nearby at Bacton) who used the chancel as a chapel. It is clear that the chancel has been improved, modified, repaired (and neglected) at various times during its existence and traces of all of these cause much speculation and discussion amongst visitors. In the seventeenth century the chancel was used as a schoolroom. The choir stalls are carved with schoolboy drawings and have been cut about to incorporate inkwells.

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The Rood Screen A more detailed description of the Rood Screen can be read in Part 2. John Gogyll, or Gogle, by his will of 12th May 1496 and subsequent to his death in 1498, was the donor, or at least the principal amongst others, of this screen, which was completed in 1502. The present relic is a shadow of what must have been a wonderfully decorated original. Damage to the screen was deliberately inflicted during the various religious upheavals, principally in 1643 by the actions of William Dowsing and the iconoclasts, who were commissioned by the House of Commons to destroy everything “superstitious� in East Anglia.

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An account of the history and special features of the Chancel including interventions and repairs. PREAMBLE In 2006 St Botolph’s was inspected in accordance with the Inspection of Churches Measure, 1995. It was discovered that there were major problems with the Chancel roof. The estimated cost of repairs was completely beyond the ability of the village to raise. The only recourse was to obtain grants from external agencies, especially English Heritage. The English Heritage procedures required the compilation of a research-based account of the history and maintenance record of the relevant part of a building. Restoration Committee member Anne Horsefield undertook to do the necessary research and to write the account. This was done and happily the grant application was successful. This account is a suitably amended version of the submission made to English Heritage.

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INTRODUCTION Blomefield’s History of Norfolk, Vol. VIII, 1800 gives the following description of St. Botolph’s Church, Trunch – “Church is dedicated to St.Botolph, and is a regular pile, with a nave, 2 aisles, and a chancel covered with lead and has a tower with 4 bells.” One hundred years later in 1900, Bryant, in his Norfolk Churches Vol. 5, The Hundred of North Erpingham, writes – “The church which stands nearly in the centre of the village is dedicated to St. Botolph and is a handsome edifice of flint with stone dressings in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles of architecture and one of the best in the neighbourhood.” Christobel M. Hoare affirms in her valuable book, The History of an East Anglian Soke, 1918 – “ Of all the Soke Churches none can really compare to St. Botolph’s of Trunch.” The Rev. Percival. J. Goodrich in his The Story of Trunch published in 1939 says – “We can readily endorse her view [C.M.Hoare] as we pass round the magnificent building and, more especially, note its grand interior. The church remains in its pristine beauty.” Cautley, H.Munro; Norfolk Churches, 1949. In the section ‘Notes on Norfolk Churches’, Cautley gives St. Botolph’s four stars (****) and says “This is one of the most interesting churches in the county.” More recently (2002), Simon Jenkins in his book England’s Thousand Best Churches, included St. Botolph’s, Trunch in his chapter on Norfolk Churches. 20


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Notes on additional Sources of Information In addition to the above listed books, the following references were consulted – -

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Fiske. R. C. A History of Trunch, 1974 Mortlock & Roberts The Popular Guide to Norfolk Churches; No. 1, North-East Norfolk, 1981 Rose. M. & Harvey. K. The Misericords of Norwich Cathedral 1994 The description of St. Botolph’s written after the 1987 survey done to confirm the Grade I Listed building status. The information leaflet TRUNCH ST BOTOLPH produced for Church Tours and written by ’Lyn Stillgoe in 2007. Trunch Miscellany – A Walk Around Guide [to St. Botolph’s] First edition by Rev.M.Westney 1978, second edition by Rev.J.Guyton 1985. Various original documents in packages (referenced as PD242/…etc..) were examined at the County Archive in Norwich. These will be referred to in the relevant text. The Minutes of St. Botolph’s Trunch PCC (1953 t0 2007) provided accurate dates and information.

The authors Rev. P.J. Goodrich and R. C. Fiske were historians who sourced original medieval documents for their books. The information thus obtained has been used in this report.

Methodology for this account of the Chancel After an overview of the history of the chancel, the exterior features will be described, along with the windows and their restorations. The interior features and their restorations will be discussed in the order that they are met with on walking towards and into the chancel. Documented repairs made in 1862 will be quoted and then finally, the details of the installation of utilities will be given.

Overview of the history of the Chancel Fiske suggests that the chancel is the oldest part of the church – late C14. The Priests’ Door is of the Decorated style – 1272 to 1377. The windows and South Chancel Porch are in the Perpendicular style 1377 to 1485. The Domesday Book (1086) records a church being at Trunch with 10 acres. This would have been built by the Anglo-Saxons and was probably of wood as only the churches belonging to the administrative bishopric were built in stone. It has been suggested that the scattered pieces of dark brown carstone in the walls indicate the reuse of Saxon stone as this hard sandstone can be found locally. In my opinion, as these stones are not dressed, the prior presence of a wooden church is indicated. The church was part of the Rural Deanery of Repps and there is list of the names of Deans from 1304 to 1339. The list of Rectors of Trunch begins at 1294. Trunch was obviously an important church in the area so a grand new edifice was planned and built. The market for the Soke of Gimingham was held at Trunch, again showing the village’s importance to the local community. 21


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At the time, the area was prosperous due to the trade in wool, weaving and woven fabrics. Wealthy merchants and landowners became patrons of churches and guild chapels as a show of influence, power and their faith. As the Rev. Goodrich states “…….. Its [St. Botolph’s] ancient features are still a cause for admiration and remark by those who, to-day, gaze on this gift to posterity – this gift to all – by our forefathers.” Medieval builders often planned a new church by making a square of a certain size and then using this as a template for the rest of the building. The chancel was usually two squares and the nave a multiple of the square. The chancel at Trunch measures 34 feet 6 inches long and 18 feet 3 inches wide, which is a rectangle of almost two squares. Working from a plan, the foundations could be laid down. The chancel must have taken several summers to complete as not more than 10 feet of masonry could be raised with unconsolidated lime mortar. One feels that plans for the church were made and perhaps kept at a patron’s manor during the winters. As the years went by, architectural styles evolved from Decorated to Perpendicular. At St. Botolph’s within the chancel there are the choir and sanctuary. Attached to the chancel on the south side is the South Chancel Porch – the Priests’ Porch. Probably there was a room/chapel on the north side. See Plan of Chancel. On looking at the walls one can see different phases of work – for example there are more half-ball gallets low down in the walls than higher up. The progress and quality of the build was almost certainly affected by the loss of skilled masons in the Black Death in 1349 and succeeding years.

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PLAN OF THE CHANCEL

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EXTERIOR FEATURES OF THE CHANCEL The East Wall

The height to the base of the parapet is about 25 feet with a further estimated 5 feet to the gable top. The eastern corners are supported by diagonal stepped buttresses. The gable cross, of a crocketted Celtic/Irish style, was restored and reinstated in 1989. Two downpipes from the parapet gutters are fixed at the sides of the wall. These discharge into a channel which was built around the church in 1899. (PD242/35) The wall houses the magnificent Perpendicular, 3-light transomed east window. It is glazed with Clouded Variegated Cathedral glass. (PD242/44). In 1896 the architect Edward S. Prior noted in a report to SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) that the East window had been recently reglazed in Cathedral Plate. (PD242/34). In 1920 repairs to a mullion were done. The invoice (PD242/39) from Arthur. W. Hallis is in the County Archive. At a full inspection of the church in the late 1950’s it was noted that a mullion in the east window needed attention. (PD242/44). 24


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During 1985 it was evident that the window was in need of repairs. The PCC Minutes of 12th May 1987 recorded that there was difficulty in finding a glazier to deal with such a large window. The PCC Minutes of 3rd September 1987 detail the repairs listed by the architect. Eventually, the whole window was removed in November 1988 and restoration begun. In June 1989 the restored window was reinstated. (Church Log Book).

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The South Wall

This wall has two early perpendicular 3-light windows separated by a stepped buttress springing from the apex of a gabled porch leading to the priests’ door. (Details of the porch to follow below.) The windows are not identical – the westernmost has quatrefoil designs in the tracery. The easternmost window – WS01 – was restored during the years 1994 to 1999 along with work on the nave and north chancel windows. These restorations were funded by English Heritage. The westernmost - WS02 – was mistakenly omitted from this project but was later, in 1999, restored and paid for by the PCC. See below the photographs of the ‘before and after’ restoration work on WS02.

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Before restoration

After restoration

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The South Chancel Porch

The integration of a buttress with a porch is very unusual. (Others occur at Warham St. Mary and Grundisburgh.) Bryant in his Norfolk Churches 1900, quotes the architect Brandon as saying “…. this arrangement was probably had recourse to after the construction of the priests’ doorway which is Decorated, to resist an apprehended spreading of the walls in that spot, and is a remarkable instance of the simple yet elegant manner in which the ancient architects surmounted any difficulty of the kind.” The wall is still sound after 600 years! The Perpendicular porch front has been built with great style and care. The lowest course is of knapped flints with some garretting – flint flakes inserted between the main stones. Either side of the doorway some good quality flushwork can be seen. The arch over the door is decorative with alternating dressed voussoirs of ashlar and flints. Inside the porch there are built-in stone benches and the walls and ceiling are plastered and whitewashed. The roof is lead covered. The Decorated arch over the priests’ door has a series of fine mouldings. The lead covering to the roof was repaired in 1988 – 1989. There have also been repairs to the west and east walls.

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The North Wall exterior This wall has evidence of many changes to the chancel. Unfortunately the area is dominated by the partially subterranean boiler house constructed in 1908 (PD242/38) and the modern fuel oil storage tank. The two 3-light Perpendicular windows match those on the south side. (Note that both westernmost windows have their lower sections unglazed. Possible reasons for this will be discussed when describing the interior of the chancel.) Between the windows there is clear evidence of a doorway, now blocked with flint work to match the wall. The vertical jambs are an assortment of ashlar stones and the pediment over the doorway is of badly decaying soft ashlar. This must have been an entrance to a room/chantry chapel. When the boiler room was being excavated, the builders removed some flint foundations made for a room about twelve feet square. (PD242/38). Strangely one cannot easily see where this room was ‘attached’ to the chancel. Was it ever built?

Also difficult to ascertain is where the hagioscope opening was in the outer masonry. It must have been designed to open into the room/chapel. Under the easternmost window there is an area of wall that has a fair number of bricks amongst the flint gallets. Could this area have been altered to make the Easter Sepulchre in the late C15 when bricks were becoming available? In the corner junction of the chancel and the north aisle, there are the foundations of the rood stair tower. This appears to have been circular and made using small rounded flint stones. Again it is difficult to see how it connected to the existing walls. Near the 29


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corner there are ‘modern’ bricks used to repair the ‘scar’. The entrance to the stairway was through the east wall of the north aisle, beside the present pulpit. The upper exit must have been on the nave side of the chancel arch but there are no clues to its position.

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The Roof and Parapets The leaded roof has 18 sections. At some time in the early C19 the rafter ends rotted causing the lead to be unsupported and to crack. The result was water entering the wall from above causing the plaster on the chancel walls to disintegrate. This was solved around 1830 by removing the decayed ends of the rafters and the building of a ‘gutter trough’ of lead-lined brick walls, seen as the parapets from below.

The architect, Edward S. Prior in 1896 wrote in a report to SPAB that “The chancel would seem to have had a new roof some 60 years ago and is furnished with brick parapets.” (PD242/34). Over time this gutter grew leaks and the chancel plaster was damaged. 31


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In 2004 part of the south parapet was taken down to allow an examination to take place to find the source of the leaks. A few repairs were done and the parapet replaced. More details of this in PART II. In the County Archive, envelope (PD242/34) contains directions on how to repair a lead roof. (The nave roof was in need of attention at the time, 1896).

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INTERIOR FEATURES OF THE CHANCEL The Chancel Arch

This arch forms an imposing entrance to the chancel. It is described as being a double chamfered arch with responds terminating in polygonal capitals. When viewed from the nave its form is further enhanced by the attachment of the hammer-beam roof of the nave, which was constructed in 1486 following a bequest. Just to the right of the arch apex there is the remains of a pulley fitting that was used to hang and manage the rope of the rowell light which illuminated the rood. High within the arch above the rood screen there would have been the rood loft, accessed by the rood stair to the left of the arch on the nave side. In the reigns of Henry VIII and the minority king Edward VI it was decreed that all roods and their lofts were to be destroyed and the ‘treasures’ of every church should be listed and confiscated. (Goodrich, 1939 quotes the original indenture of 1552 and lists the treasures taken.) The carved frieze of uninhabited vine scroll, now fixed to the top of the screen, is the only remaining substantial part of the loft. The loft 33


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spanned both sides of the screen as can be seen from the bases of fan vaulting still attached to the screen. It must have been a fine loft to behold. Every Church is subject to the Inspection of Churches Measure, 1955 In the Inspection in the late 1950’s (PD242/44), the inspecting architect noted …… “Crack in North Arch. Crack has moved since being pointed up. The Chancel Arch cracks are considered serious because the arch itself has sagged and there is an open joint about 6 inches above the springing. This point may be dangerous and should be repaired.” There is now no trace of this crack/joint repair so the arch must have stabilized.

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The Rood Screen Although its loft has gone, the rood screen is still an imposing structure. It is dated 1502 and was made following a bequest written in the will of John Gogle. The screen has three bays right and left of the arched opening. Each bay in the dado has two saints and they are surmounted by crocketted ogeed arches. Sadly many crockets are missing but much of the complex polychrome decoration still has rich colours. The base of the screen is richly carved with a trail of battlemented crestings standing on a sill of continuous quatrefoils.

North side

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South side Most of the faces of the saints have been defaced – a record of the visits of the King’s Commissioners around 1560 and/or William Dowsing’s men in 1643- 44. Rev. Goodrich quotes the Earl of Manchester’s order to destroy “everything superstitious in East Anglia.” From North to South the Saints are: St Thomas, with spear St Philip, with loaves St James the Less, with fuller’s club and book St Matthew, with an axe St James Major, with shell St Peter, with keys and book St Paul, with sword St Andrew, with cross saltire St John, with chalice and palm St Jude, with boat St Simon, with fish St Bartholomew, with flaying knife and book It will be noted that each Saintly image is below its own ogee arch. However, closer inspection shows that these arches are now incomplete. Each arch has a surface which is unpainted and unfinished. 36


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These areas have dowel holes in them, which suggests that something had originally been attached. This same situation is to be found at Aylsham St Michael and elsewhere. Close inspection shows that the dado panels are in pairs. The vertical borders if each image are called “mullions�. The mullions are different on each side of the dado panels. One side is fixed and has either a hole or a rebate whilst the other side is removable and can be used to trap the insert. This enabled a carved decorated moulding to be slotted in to the otherwise flat panel. All but one of these survives at Cawston St Agnes. Many of them elsewhere are missing or broken, either because they were fragile or because of wanton destruction.

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The Choir Returned Stalls There are six returned stalls with misericords abutting the rood screen. They are of late C14 or early C15 age. The style of the supporters on the misericords is not unlike those seen in Norwich cathedral.

The six stalls could have been ordered from the cathedral workshop by two patrons of the new church as two misericords on the south side have high quality carvings of two handsome gentlemen.

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These are so distinctive that surely they must have been portraits. It might be possible to date these carvings by the style of the hats and facial hair.

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The central south misericord has a “lion mask� – possibly a symbol of power. Perhaps the most senior clergyman sat here.

The three stalls on the north side have misericords of angels holding shields. The eight elbow rests are carved with a range of angels and demons. By the C19 the wood work of the returned stalls and choir stalls had become badly damaged. All were repaired in 1881.

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The Choir Stalls On each side, the choir stalls are raised up on platform faced by stone work with quatrefoil (south side) and hexafoil (north side) openings in it. Each structure is in fact a sounding box and its effect is to amplify the songs and chants and responses of the liturgy. (The sound of modern choirs singing in the choir is greatly enhanced by the chancel acoustic and sounding boxes.)

South side

North side

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Most of the furniture and fittings of the choir stalls are medieval. (The repairs as noted above are Victorian.) Four of the six desk sections are original and their graffitti records an interesting history. For a while, 1646 to 1750, the choir was used as a schoolroom. Ink wells were cut into the desks. The children carved their initials, dates, ‘houses’, a church, flags and “Three Men’s Morris” squares.

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“Three Men’s Morris” square on wooden desk Several “Three Men’s Morris” squares are also carved into the stonework in the window ledge. These carvings are also found in the cloisters of several Cathedrals including Norwich, so it is possible that monks carved them at St. Botolph’s.

Before the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the patronage of St. Botolph’s and Bromholm Priory was to Castle Acre Priory. It has been suggested that monks from Bromholm Priory would come to the church for services and to collect their temporalities. This ancient game is explained in Appendix 1 to this account. As noted before, the lower sections of the windows are not glazed but finished in stone. In turn, the lower half of this narrow wall is buttressed to halfway across the window ledge. A possible reason for this is that the masons thought that the original 43


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window openings as built were too big in relation to the high chancel walls and could cause instability. Perhaps this corroborates with the need to construct the South Chancel Porch buttress as mentioned in the appropriate section.

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The Priests’ Doorway The inner door is made of deal planks, painted a sad grey. Above the doorway there is a shallow 2-centred arch and above that the open pediment follows the shape of the arch.

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Wall piscina Just east of the Priest’s door is a simple wall piscina. It is suggested that this has been moved from its original position – either the Lady Chapel in the south aisle or perhaps from the north chapel when that was demolished. Another suggestion is that it indicates that the easternmost part of the chancel was completed some time after the westernmost. Masses were possibly held in this smaller area with a temporary altar and piscina.

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Blocked North Doorway The outline of this doorway is clearly seen on the north wall. (Possibly there is another fine Decorated arch behind the plaster.)

The doorway led to a room that could have had the following uses: (a) As the chantry chapel for the Guild of St. Botolph (b) As a vestry (c) As an Anchorite Cell - but these were quite rare.

Hagioscope

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The hagioscope or “squint is” clearly angled to allow worshippers in the side chapel to see the priest at the altar. It is unlikely that it is a “lepers’ squint” as lepers would not be allowed into the village, let alone getting close to the church to watch a mass.

The Sanctuary The Easter Sepulchre

It is thought that the stepped, dropped window sill below the north window was used to receive the wooden Easter Sepulchre used to house the Crucifix and Host while they were watched over from Good Friday until Easter Sunday.

The Altar Rail This is a modern rail, C19, made of Oak.

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The Sedilia The Sedilia is a simple dropped sill in the south wall.

On both sides there are stone pillars, the one to the east forming part of the angle piscina and aumbry.

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The Angle Piscina and Aumbry This is a delightful feature as can be seen in the photographs below.

The piscina bowl is of a clever design of pointed and petal shaped drainage channels. The aumbry above has a hinged brass door. It is not now used to store the sacred vessels. The PCC Minutes of 22nd November 1977 record that the door hinges had been repaired.

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The Reredos The colourful reredos boards in the arches of the stone reredos at the base of the east window are a modern addition to the sanctuary. In 1925 a Faculty (PD242/32) was issued for the fixing of mahogany boards to the stone reredos - the boards to be painted to match the style of the rood screen and a citation to be placed above them. The result is very pleasing.

The row of stone shields are carved with the following, reading from the north – -

St. Catherine’s Wheel (St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge, was patron of the living of St. Botolph’s at one time) The Arms of the Garrard family ‘I H S’ symbol (the first 3 letters of the Greek for Jesus) The Trinity symbol The Arms of the Norwich Diocese (3 mitres) St. George’s cross

NB: The identities of the shields are taken from the Church Tours Guide. The observation about St.Catherine’s Wheel is the author’s.

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The Carved Wainscot This wainscot is rarely seen in normal times as it becomes obscured by the altar table. It is a series of beautifully carved panels, each one having symbolic foliage in the centre. The two outer panels bear a citation while the six central ones carry a referenced verse from the bible.

North outer panel

North inner panel

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South inner panel

South outer panel

The wainscot was a gift from the Reverend W.F. Kimm and his family and was installed in 1906. (PD242/35).

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The Tiled Floor The sanctuary floor is Victorian. The tiles were laid in 1902 (PD242/36). The wooden platform was installed in 1913, along with the lengthened Georgian altar table.

The Roof and Ceiling Edward S. Prior in 1896 wrote in a report to SPAB that … “The chancel ceiling has been given plaster panels between the old principals which have been smoothed over and painted in (?)graining. The result is lean and disagreeable but generally sound and I have advised the Rector that it should not be meddled with.” (PD242/34).

The roof and ceiling were restored in 1907 under the direction of Reverend Kimm. At the 2006 Quinquennial Inspection it was noted that some of the plaster panels are showing cracks and are crumbling and are in danger of falling down. This damage has been caused by the ingress of water through the lead roof. Hence the need for ‘meddling’ and restoration work. The chancel was put out of use until repairs were carried out (see later).

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The Roof Beam Bosses Six bosses are attached to the bases of the shorter principals. Using binoculars, one can study them and see the symbolic carvings on the angels’ shields. On the north side there are palm fronds, the Face of Jesus while on trial and the Sacred Heart. This series represents the events of Holy Week.

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On the south side, the shields show a hammer, three nails and a pair of pincers. These represent the Crucifixion and Deposition of Christ.

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Plaster damage to Sanctuary Walls As mentioned above in connection with the roof, water ingress caused damage to the plaster which began to flake off the south wall in 1996. The 1996 Quinquennial reported that …. “urgent work needed to be done to the south side of the chancel wall.” By December 1996 a local builder had carried out repairs to stabilize the wall but further plastering was required following the roof repairs of 2010.

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The Memorials The Thextons The Reverend Goodrich provides information about the relationship of this family with Trunch. The Thextons were from Yorkshire and Launcelot was Rector to St. Botolph’s from 1576 to 1588. He was succeeded by his son Robert and then by a further two ‘Roberts’. Members of the family held office in Trunch for 150 years. (Rev. Charles Parkin, writing in Blomefield, 1808, Vol.VIII, gives more details of the rectorships of the Thextons.)

Launcelot Thexton This wall monument on the north wall above the blocked doorway is the oldest memorial in the church. Again binoculars are needed to appreciate its design and text.

To quote from the Grade I listing survey – “North wall of chancel with wall monument to Launcelot Thexton 1588. Ashlar. Pediment carried on pair of strapwork pilasters. Between pilasters a 58


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rounded recess carved with a cloak, shield and helmet above brass inscription panel. Apron below in form of opposing strapwork scrolls.” The monument is quite badly eroded and it is difficult to see that the ‘shield’ is in fact the Thexton Coat of Arms and above the helmet there is a horse’s head arising from a castellated crown – again part of the Thextons’ heraldry. (Fiske, 1974). The monument does in fact tell one much about the Reverend Launcelot Thexton. He was a scholar of Theology and the small plate in the pediment is thought to have the name ‘Jehovah’ written in an ancient Samaritan script. Further searches on the internet reveal much about his life and ministry in troubled Tudor times. He is buried in the chancel.

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Thexton Tablet On the south wall above the priests’ door there is an unusual tablet. It is to the memory of Robert Thexton, son of Launcelot, and his wife Ann.

The initials R T and A T are in the corners of the square. Within the square is a circle that encloses symbols of the Passion of Christ. The author’s suggestion is that the arrangement is in the form of the Chi-Rho (X P I) which is itself the symbol for Christ.

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The Memorial plaque for George Ward (north wall) This young seaman died at sea but is commemorated in St. Botolph’s because earlier generations of the Ward Family held office here and some are buried in the nave.

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The Ward Family Memorial Ledger Stone In the centre of the choir floor (beneath the carpet) is a large black marble ledger stone in memory of members of the Ward Family.

After her death in Kent, a small matching ledger stone was added to the memory of Horatia Nelson who was married to Phillip Ward. It is interesting to imagine Lord Nelson in St. Botolph’s as he may have attended services here.

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The Wall Tablet for Reverend W. F. Kimm (south wall)

As already noted the Reverend W. F. Kimm, Rector from 1882 to 1910, did much restoration on the chancel roof and gave the church the beautiful wooden Wainscoting symbolic carvings for posterity. It is fitting that he has a wall tablet on the south wall to commemorate his life. Notice that Rev. Kimm was a fellow of St Catherine’s College, Cambridge. St Catherine’s Wheel is one of the reredos bosses.

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The Wall Tablet for John and Mary Daw (south wall) To the east of the priests’ door is a wall tablet to John and Mary Daw.

They were from Cornwall but, in later life, lived and died at Trunch Rectory. Their remains are interred in the chancel presumably under initialled tiles close to the sanctuary step.

Gravestone, possibly to Robert Cantell Set into the floor is a large rather crude gravestone (possibly of Purbeck Marble) with an indentation that once may have held a brass memorial plaque. In Blomefield, 1808, there is recorded an inscription on a gravestone to Robert Cantell who died in 1480. (He had been rector since 1438.) In Bryant’s Norfolk Churches, 1900, there is no mention of this inscription so I assume it was on a brass that has been removed so the stone could relate to Robert Cantell.

Richard Mytton Buried in the chancel is Richard Mytton who by his will of 31st January, 1504, directs his body to be buried in the chancel at Trunch before the image of St.Botolph. The statue has gone and the grave is unmarked. Richard Mytton was rector from 1481 to 1504 and “…gave the chancel roof”, (Goodrich, 1939). The roof at its base bore the inscription in Latin asking that ‘….prayers would be said for the soul of Richard Mytton who gave the chancel roof.’ (Was this was the first restoration of the chancel roof?)

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Repair to the Fabric of the Chancel in 1862 The archive envelope PD242/33 contains documents relating to repairs to the roof and other structures. June 1862 Specification for the restoration of the church. - use Bastard Stucco when plastering - Chancel – repair lead covering to keep out the wet and repair the roof timbers and boarding and stain all new timbers to match the old. March 1863 Receipt to Robinson Cornish. For work done at Trunch Chancel Plastering walls, cleaning stonework, colouring ceiling and woodwork and repair of Lead to Roof Repairing stonework of Piscina

£23 – 10 – 00 £1 – 5 – 10 £24 – 15 – 10

Installation of Utilities The central heating was installed in 1908. (PD242/38.) It must have been a convecting system from a coke-fired boiler. Now there is an oil-fired boiler with a pumped system. (Note that the original specification for the heating did not include the chancel radiators.) Electricity was wired into the church in 1939. The chancel has two pairs of spotlights mounted high on the walls and illuminating the east wall and altar. PCC Minutes of 1st May 1991 record that the church electrics had been updated and two sockets had been installed in the chancel. The electrical system for the whole church was renewed in 2009 following safety concerns.

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Restoration of the Chancel Roof The Original Chancel Roof. We are fortunate to have this etching of St. Botolph’s made around 1815.

It may be seen that the leaded chancel roof reaches beyond the wall. (Note there is no guttering anywhere, so the rainwater must have cascaded around the church.) It is recorded in his will that Rev. Richard Mytton gave the chancel roof in 1504.

The Construction of the Parapet Gutters. By the early 1800’s the lead over the rafter ends had thinned and cracked allowing water onto the timbers. These rotted, the lead was unsupported and water could enter the walls, eventually causing plaster damage in the chancel. Unwilling to do a full restoration of the rafters, the authorities opted to shorten the timbers and build lead-lined brick gutters to support the shortened rafters and to form a trough to catch the water. To make a gradient to carry water to two new cast iron downpipes mounted on the East wall, the trough base was made in a series of three steps by planks under the lead lining. The brick parapets are almost certainly made of ‘Norfolk Reds’ probably made at the brick kilns in Trunch. Stone copings cap the outer walls. This was all in place by 1900 as seen in the illustration in Bryant’s Norfolk Churches. 66


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The date of the works therefore must be between 1815 and 1900. A further clue comes from Edward S. Prior’s report to SPAB in 1897. (PD242/34). To quote – “The chancel would seem to have had a new roof some 60 years ago and is furnished with brick parapets. The gutters behind them often choke and I would propose additional outlets with projecting lead chutes to throw off storm water.” Guttering, downpipes, soakaways and a channel around the church were installed in 1899. (Goodrich 1939.) The water from the chancel roof was, in fact, being channelled in pipes underground and through the churchyard wall to the yard of the neighbouring slaughterhouse – The Shambles. Free cleaning water when it rained! (The present occupants have blocked the hole in the wall and now water discharges into a 2 metre deep French drain.)

Observations from carrying out the Inspection of Churches Measure, 1955. 2001 Quinquennial Inspection Priority A: Chancel roof gutters, parapets and downpipes need attention.

October 11th 2003 North gutter was cleared and inspected by church architect and English Heritage architect. They decided to postpone gutter repairs as the cracks in the tower were causing concern.

PCC Minutes of 28th August 2003. The PCC voted to go ahead with the investigative work to the south side chancel gutter. In January 2004, the Trunch PCC paid for an investigation of the problems. The eastern third of the south parapet was dismantled. This was necessary because the gutter trough is too narrow for men to walk and work in. Some minor faults were found and repaired. Surprisingly the whole structure was dry!

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2006 Quinquennial Inspection Both gutters cleaned and inspected. There were clearly ongoing problems with both gutters. The following points were recognised and action was subsequently taken following the successful application for an English Heritage Grant for which this Report was an essential prerequisite.

1. They are very high (25 feet plus) and thus difficult to access. Cleaning was/is rarely done. 2. The gradient in the trough is not steep enough to make self-clearing possible. 3. Debris collects. 4. The lead deteriorates under the debris and cracks. 5. The lead thins and cracks at the plank steps. 6. Water enters the wooden planks which rot and collapse so adding to debris and water collection. 7. Water enters the wall and eventually seeps into chancel wall plaster causing it to disintegrate. 8. The Norfolk Red bricks are showing signs of weathering and repointing of the parapet is necessary. 68


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Reinstatement of the Roof. The situation described above was clearly unacceptable. This monograph was demanded by English Heritage for them to make a grant for this work. In this it was successful, though the author did not survive to see this success. When the grant was made the roof rebuild could commence: The parapets were taken down. The lead was removed from the gutter trough and the roof. The tops of the chancel walls were made suitable to support the rafters and the new cast iron guttering. The unsound timber was removed and new rafters were fitted or good timber scarphed onto the old rafters as appropriate. The whole chancel roof was re-leaded. The new down-pipes discharge water into two new soakaways well away from the chancel walls. The chancel roof is now back in its original state and we hope it will last for several hundred years more. Re-consecration of the Chancel roof, conducted by the Bishop of Norwich, took place on October 31st 2010.

CONCLUSION To read this account is to have been a ‘time traveller’, starting in the late C14 and ending in the early C21 – just over 600 years! During that time, the chancel of St. Botolph’s in Trunch has witnessed so much; changes in architecture styles and building skills: the enhancement of the church in pre-reformation times only to have so many of its treasures ‘removed and destroyed’ when the reformation came: numbers of worshippers decreasing: secular use of the church increasing. The ‘official’ religion went from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism then back to the Roman Church only to be followed by the protestant Anglican Church. Even this ministry was interrupted by a spell of Non-Conformism under the puritanical Commonwealth. The Victorians began the repair and restoration of the church in the early C19. New furnishings were installed in the chancel to enhance the sanctuary. Repairs to the roof did stop the leaks for a while but the construction of the parapet gutters generated many problems. Past generations have cared for the church and now it is up to the C21 generations to make St. Botolph’s sound for the future, hopefully for many hundreds of years. One final quote, taken from the Secretary’s Report to the Annual General Meeting of the PCC on the 14th April 1988. 69


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“One the main items for discussion at these meetings was the maintenance of the fabric of St. Botolph’s. Its chief beauty lies in its age and architecture but therein lies its weakness.” ________________________ This account of the Chancel history was compiled* by Anne Horsefield B.Sc. (Hons) PGCE. Anne was Secretary of St Botolph’s Church Restoration Committee from 2001 to 2007. After a seven-year battle with cancer, Anne died on New Years Day 2010. (*With technical production assistance by Peter Horsefield B.Sc.(Eng) ACGI, Chairman of the Restoration Committee from 2001 to 2006).

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Appendix 1 – Three Men’s Morris. There are several examples of this matrix incised on horizontal surfaces in the Chancel: -

This is the field of play for Three Men’s Morris. Three Men’s Morris is an ancient game that is thought to be a direct ancestor of Noughts and Crosses; it is known by many other names, including Nine Holes, and is related to the later and more complex Six Men’s Morris and Nine Men’s Morris. The game involves two sets of four pieces (one set for each player), each set having its own colour. Players take it in turns to place pieces on intersection points, and the first person to place three along a line wins the game. There are two versions of the game. The simpler one does not have the diagonal lines on the matrix. The earliest known board for Three Men’s Morris was found on the roof of the temple in Kurna, Egypt, dating back almost three and a half thousand years. Its earliest known appearance in literature is in Ovid’s Ars Amatoria. The Chinese are believed to have played it under the name Luk tsut K’i during the time of Confucius (c. 500 BC). Boards for Three Men’s Morris dating back to the thirteenth century can be found carved into the cloister seats at the cathedrals at Canterbury, Gloucester, Norwich, and Salisbury, and at Westminster Abbey.

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Appendix 2 – Key dates in Church History

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The Font Canopy of St Botolph’s Church Trunch Font canopies are rare. There are four in Britain. The oldest is probably that in St Mary’s Church Luton. This is a relatively large and simply decorated stone structure inside which one can easily walk around; quite different from ours and much bigger. It is arguably more like a small Baptistery than a font canopy. The others are at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich, which is largely a gloomy C19 restoration, and in Durham Cathedral; this one dates from around 1670. The date of construction of the Trunch canopy is not recorded but it is thought likely to be contemporaneous with the Rood screen, which is known to be of 1502. The Trunch canopy is therefore possibly the oldest of the three English wooden structures. Without question it is the most interesting. In his book “England’s Thousand Best Churches” Simon Jenkins somewhat bizarrely describes the Trunch canopy as “…..more decorative than artistic, and great fun”. In fact there is little evidence of levity in ecclesiastical art and architecture; so rare is it that the Smiling Angels of the Cathedral of Reims are as famous as they are beautiful.

Despite the lack of written records we may perhaps speculate that there is much more to it than Simon Jenkins would have us believe. Please note that what follows is speculation piled on conjecture. There are no records of when the structure was built and what, if anything, it means. To set the scene; the canopy covers the font. A font is the gateway by which a Christian soul enters the long and arduous path to resurrection and eternal life through faith. Taken as a whole, the Trunch Font Canopy can be interpreted as an extraordinarily beautiful and quite sensational statement of the power of the Church in linking Heaven and Earth, thereby bringing certain immortality to those being baptised at the font. From the photograph of the canopy it can be seen that the canopy can be looked at as three sections. The upper section seems to represent heaven, in the sense that it is the highest part. The whole of this part was gilded, so would have been seen as solid gold. Then come the eighteen “bowing ogees” which are golden and blue. 74


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The fact that these features are castellated (as would have been the mansions of the rich on earth) suggests that they mimic buildings of some special kind.

The fact that in Trunch they are supported by golden fan vaulting below blue panels – blue being the colour of Heaven – possibly means that they are in Heaven. Perhaps it is not too fanciful to think that they could represent the “many mansions” of the House of God. Below the “Mansions” there are the six large coloured panels. The panel on the East side, facing the altar, shows clearly the remnants of a crucifixion scene.

There are dowel holes in the panel, suggesting that it carried not a painting but a carved scene. The depictions on the other five panels are no longer discernible and can only be guessed at. The panels would have been damaged at the Reformation, but 75


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in the case of painted images usually they were only “defaced” by scratching the faces out. The fact that there is nothing left on these panels perhaps indicates that what was there was moulded in bas-relief as clearly the Crucifixion was, so they were smashed off. There is considerable remnant polychromy. Closer examination of this area reveals that there are other pieces missing – the trace being dowel pegs on each of the angles.

It has been suggested that these used to carry “prickets”, modelled like flying buttresses, which would have carried candles, possibly several at each point. These would have illuminated the vision of heaven in a most wonderful manner, especially since at that at that time almost all the population would have lived in very modest houses. The underside of the canopy is also intriguing, if easily missed. The two main features are the carved fan vaulting and the complex pendant.

The tracery of this vaulting contains multiple images of the fleur de lys. This has two symbolic references, one to the Virgin (strongly repeated elsewhere) and one to the Trinity. On the whole canopy there are multiple repeated features of carvings of all kinds having three elements – all related to the Trinity. Below the vaulted ceiling the pendant structure seems to gather together all the awesome power of the images of Heaven; the Crucifixion; (and no doubt of Saints and Martyrs on the other panels) to show the strength and importance of the Church and thus to focus these mighty forces down upon the Font and therefore to the human object of the Baptism ceremony.

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All this upper section was highly colourful, but what lies below was white. There is no trace of polychromy below that of the ceiling of the canopy. Possibly the explanation is that at that time there was a fashion for carved alabaster in church statuary. Alternatively, an interpretation might be that this part of the structure is redolent with symbols of earthly things, which are pale and wan compared with the glories of the hereafter. Far from being “great fun” the Trunch Font Canopy is a serious business – and so are the carvings on the columns which have intrigued many observers. At the time it was made most people could neither read nor write so much of the spreading of understanding of the world was by the oral tradition including the use of recognised symbols, the language of which is now mostly forgotten and seldom written about. “Pictures are used in churches in order that those ignorant of letters may by merely looking at the walls read there what they are unable to read in books” Pope Gregory the Great in a letter c600AD. Symbols are ".…a universal non-verbal language which everybody understood, a language of symbols which has…. been lost. This symbolism is now hidden, not because it cannot be seen but because we cannot understand it". Melvyn Matthews (Recently Chancellor of Wells Cathedral). Many symbols were drawn from either real or imaginary animals; their real or imaginary attributes being seen as exemplars given by God for the guidance of man. Why else would dangerous and exotic wild animals have been created? What was God’s purpose in so doing? What were they FOR? What we now call Natural History was a great puzzle for people who would know their own locality far more intimately than we do but would have relied on travellers’ tales to learn about more about the people, animals and plants of distant lands. The tales were drawn together in the Bestiaries and folklore. These became the compendiary of symbolic references, some of which are from very ancient times. These symbolic references can be found in most churches and in many other ancient buildings. There are very many features on the Trunch Font Canopy that can be recognised as symbolic; relatively few of them are discussed here. In guidebooks these images have been “interpreted” by earnest authors who have looked at them through modern eyes but evidently there is more to it than that.

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The Canopy has six columns. The bridge pieces joining the columns have spandrels at their corners. The guidebooks will tell you that in the spandrels of one of the panels facing the South Door there is a dog chasing a rabbit.

Indeed, it is true that one spandrel has a dog and its counterpart has a rabbit. However, if you look at you will see on the left only a dog’s head with its tongue hanging out and on the other side you will see the head of the “rabbit – but the “rabbit” is facing the dog, not running away. So, what might it mean? Perhaps we may speculate from known symbols. Firstly, in medieval imagery, if a potentially fierce animal (or even a demon) is shown with its tongue hanging out the convention was that it is not a threat because it cannot bite. Secondly, and very significantly for the whole concept, the images are on a font canopy, which is perhaps a clue to what it might really mean. In medieval and earlier times the dog was a strong symbol of faith. Equally the rabbit/hare (which is what it might possibly be) is a very ancient symbol of spring, which is the time of rebirth – now fossilised as the Easter Bunny. So those two images to the medieval mind would have a clear message – if you have faith you will be reborn. On the inner face of the pillar to the Southwest there is a squirrel holding a nut

A pretty enough image but why is it there? To one who can read the message, as they could in those days, it is quite clear. It is another allegory. To reach the kernel of the nut and so to live, the squirrel must do the hard work of chewing through the nutshell. Similarly, in order to achieve eternal life and be in Heaven with God, a soul must work hard to understand and follow the scriptures and maintain the faith.

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Lower on this same pillar is a bird, described through modern eyes as one eating grapes You will see that the bird is hanging upside-down below a bunch of grapes, which in the real world would be most peculiar.

Not so in the parallel world of imagery. In this world of imagination grapes are the source of wine and wine is symbolic of blood. A bird is not just a bird; symbolically it is a winged soul. So in this little vignette we have a symbolic winged soul not eating, but drinking symbolic blood, which is why it is upside-down. The parallel with the Eucharist is obvious. The vine, because of its fluid shape, was frequently used by artists to simply fill empty space in art and architecture. In this context it might indeed have no meaning. This seems to be the case on several of the other columns, which seem not to carry meaningful symbols.

Possibly also this reveals the work of more than one hand; the complex features being the work of the master craftsman, the simpler repetitive parts those of an apprentice or improver.

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The important column to the South of the East face of the canopy is covered with carvings of lilies.

The pure white lily has long been closely associated with the Virgin Mary. In early paintings of the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel is pictured extending to the Virgin Mary a branch of pure white lilies, announcing that she is to be the mother of the Christ Child. In other paintings, saints are pictured bringing vases full of white lilies to Mary and the infant Jesus. Early writers and artists made the lily the emblem of the Annunciation: the pure white petals signifying her spotless body and the golden anthers her soul glowing with heavenly light. On the lower panels of the companion North pillar on the East face there are more birds, this time smaller and one of them is the right way up.

They are perched on a grapevine and eating the fruit. Here we seem to have two symbols intertwined – sparrows and the vine. The bible proclaims the generosity of God by writing that "... even the lowly sparrow was invited to make her home in the Lord's temple" (Psalm 84:3) The vine represents Jesus and is a symbol that dates back 80


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to the first century. It shows the relationship of God and His people as related in John 15:5. The vineyard represents the church being cared for by God (Isaiah 5:7). This might be a symbolic of the comforting message that even the lowliest peasant is valued by God and is invited to make a home in the Lord’s Temple of the Church. At several locations the columns are capped by the spotted heads of fierce-looking animals. It is not obvious what these creatures are. They can’t be dogs, which are not generally spotted. Perhaps, given the context, they are “Pards”. The pard is a mythical beast mentioned in the Bestiaries, which are pre-mediaeval books of Natural History, with tales and homilies about beasts both real and imagined. There is a problem here in that the Pard has at least two different interpretations. It is agreed that the Pard is the fastest and most beautiful of big cats but there the similarity ends. In the first description the animal eats only herbs. It takes its fill, then goes to sleep; the sleep lasting three days. Upon wakening, from its mouth comes such a sweet and intoxicating odour that the other animals can’t resist following it everywhere. This looks like an appropriate post-Resurrection myth. In the alternative scenario the beast is not nearly so nice. The Pard is a mottled beast and very swift, thirsty for blood. The mystic Pard signifies either the devil, full of a diversity of vices or the sinner, spotted with crimes and a variety of wrongdoing. The Pard can be the Antichrist; spotted with many kinds of evil, in the Apocalypse: “And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard” – Revelations 13:2. All this was averted by the coming of Christ. In the two spandrels joining the two eastern columns there are rather puzzling features. At the South end there is the head of a man who seems to be a monk.

On its own this has no significance, so perhaps all these spandrel figures are meant to be seen in pairs, in which case we need to look at the Northern one. This is of a bird with a long beak, eating grapes. The bird is quite clearly

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extravagantly crested. There are several long-billed birds that are significant symbols, so maybe it is possible to decipher this message, too. In turn we might consider: The heron. The heron is a marsh bird that lives on fish, frogs and the like; it is not a vegetarian. The heron would have been very familiar to the woodcarver who would have known this and would have not made such a silly mistake, so it can’t be a heron. The stork. The stork is a symbol of prudence and vigilance, piety and chastity. It was associated with the Annunciation because as the arrival of the stork announced the arrival of spring and the new life, so the Annunciation to Mary presaged the arrival of Christ. There are no Crested Storks. Storks have the same lifestyle as herons. Their diet is exclusively animal. The crane. The crane is a symbol of vigilance, happiness, justice, diligence, purity, loyalty, piety, filial gratitude, beauty, good life and works and good order in monastic life. Cranes are killers of snakes and so, in Christian symbolism, the enemies of Satan. So, maybe we have a monk figure and a bird, which symbolises good order in monastic life. Is that the link? There are exotic and beautifully Crested Cranes, but now only in Africa.

Of course in mediaeval times the climate of Britain was much warmer than today, so perhaps they were to be seen in Europe. The woodcarvers were not necessarily English of course. Cranes eat vegetation of all kinds, presumably including grapes. On this basis it seems that the best candidate is the crane. However, if we don’t take too much notice of the long bill there is another crested bird with significant symbolic meaning; the peacock. The peacock is a symbol of immortality because of the myth that a peacock's flesh does not decay after death. Immortality is one of the themes of the Canopy, but otherwise there seems to be little relevance. So perhaps more work on the meaning of these two spandrels is required. On the upper internal face of the Northwest column there is a complex carving in which a dragon is attacking a hairy man who has a club which he is thrusting into the dragon’s mouth. This is not easy to see, so an artificially coloured picture is shown here for clarity. 82


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This is NOT a suggestion that it was ever coloured; there is no sign of remnant polychromy at this point.

This carving brings together two very powerful symbols. The dragon is symbolic of the Devil. The dragon as the enemy of God is vividly portrayed in Revelations 12:7-9, which describes a war in heaven in which the devil was cast out into the earth, where his war on God continues. The image is of a devouring monster that angrily destroys its victims. It is of course very widespread in use and universally understood. Less widely known is the other figure – the Woodwose.

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The Woodwose (the man of the woods). The problem here is not that there is a shortage of information; quite the opposite is true. This figure is ancient and geographically widespread and in so being it has become symbolic of many things – some of which are mutually exclusive. The Woodwose is to be seen very prominently on top of the Tower of the church at Winterton

….. in the niche over the South Porch at Potter Heigham

…..two on the Font itself at Ludham

In all these cases the figure appears to be both watchful and protective, so possibly we may discount the more fearsome end of the spectrum of the possible significance of the “Wild Man”. In early mediaeval times there was still significant wildwood, (or at least the folk memory of it) in which there were wolves, wild boar, bears (and gamekeepers!). People were not allowed to travel freely and these woods must have been threatening. It seems possible that the Woodwose was invoked to protect people against these threats and by extension the symbol became protection of the church and it’s people from the Devil. 84


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There is a further dragon to be found on the left hand of the northern spandrels, this time just its head [picture]. It is opposed on the other side by a human face, which seems to be that of a Green Man.

This might be interpreted as a warning of the threat of the Devil to the hope of rebirth and eternal life.

The remaining spandrels on the West side of the canopy are a puzzle. These are flowers, but of what variety?

There is scope for further work to identify and explain the various floral carvings, many of which are very stylised and difficult to identify properly. There are very many plants associated with symbolic meaning.

High on the north face of the Southwest column there is the head of a bird.

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It has a hooked beak and prominent neck feathers. It is surrounded by what might be leaves. The beak and feathers look like those of an eagle. The eagle is a powerful symbol. The eagle may generally be interpreted as a symbol of the Resurrection. This is based upon the early belief that the eagle, unlike other birds, periodically renewed its plumage and its youth by flying near the sun and then plunging into the water. This interpretation is further borne out by Psalm 103: 5, "... thy youth is renewed like the eagle's." The eagle is also used to represent the new life begun at the baptismal font and the Christian soul Strengthened by grace. "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their Strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. . ." (Isaiah 40: 31). There is a possible alternative meaning. You will see that the bird’s head is surrounded by what appear to be leaves, which might be simply decoration. Suppose, though, that these might be not leaves but flames, in which case this is not an eagle, but a phoenix. The phoenix indicates the hope of resurrection. Job 29:18, says ‘I shall die in my nest and I shall multiply my days like the phoenix.’ Job is recalling the ancient legend of the firebird, wherein the phoenix dies in fire and rises to new life from the ashes of death. Job is comparing himself to a bird that dies in the nest—only to rise again at a future time just like the phoenix bird. The phoenix is therefore a symbol of future resurrection to new life. -

Very appropriate for a baptism, one might think.

Finally and unmissably, several guidebooks claim that there is a pig wearing a Mitre but this is not to be found anywhere but we do have this creature: -

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It is not wearing a Mitre, but it is holding a Crosier. The crosier is the symbol of authority of an Archbishop, a Bishop or an Abbot. The crook of the crosier is deliberately set facing outward, which is the sign of one looking for souls to gather in. But what is the animal? It has fingers and humanoid feet, so it is clearly not a pig. The head does not look human. However, there are two possible alternative animals common in symbolic scenes; the monkey and the ape. This creature has no tail, so is probably intended to be an ape rather than a monkey. The left arm and hand have not been carved for some reason. The animal is wearing something round its neck that is hard to distinguish but it might be a monk’s cowl; in which case it may indicate an Abbot rather than a Bishop. Whether it is meant to be a monkey or an ape hardly matters, since both are regarded as pretty bad. They could be the Devil, looking to catch your soul with his crook. Alternatively it might be that the intention was In Christian symbolism the ape is seen as a caricature of the human and as an emblem for the vices of vanity, greed, and lechery. They also stand for uninhibited, filthy humans, a metaphor probably derived from the early Christian text Physiologus, where the ape is portrayed as wicked but also as prone to imitation. - In which case the target might well be the hierarchy of an alternative and despised Christian authority.

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The effect of the structure on the congregation must have been simply stunning; the golden crown of Heaven; the eighteen bowing castellated ogee arched housings and the six panels, all lit by multiple candles in their prickets. This extraordinary magnificence was supported by the columns and their spandrels, a glowing white edifice in the otherwise colourfully painted building. What we can be sure of is that this whole edifice would have represented a truly awe-inspiring statement of the power of the Church as the link between Heaven and Earth.

An awesome artefact indeed, in the original and powerful meaning of the word.

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THE ORGAN The organ is of double historical significance, as suggested by the two plaques in carries:

1808 William Gray London

Rebuilt 1957 Williamson & Hyatt Trunch

A national treasure: William Gray chamber organ 1808 The first plaque testifies to the organ's national importance as one of very few extant, fully working chamber organs from a dynasty of Georgian organ builders that might be described as the fathers of the Victorian organ. The Gray dynasty began when Robert Gray (d. 1796) set up his organ building business in London in the 1770s. He soon engaged his son, William Gray (d. 1821), in the business. Organs built by father and son Gray are still in use at the Freemason's Hall in Covent Garden and at Burleigh House, near Stamford. The only other chamber organs traceable by William alone are at the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh and South Kilworth Church in Leicestershire. A pamphlet from 1979, from the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh is annexed to this document. It confirms the perceived quality of William Gray's instruments. Gray's organ builders had premises in Pratt Street, Camden, close to the Regent Canal, enabling them to fully exploit the canal system to transport across the country. Records also indicate an address on the Euston Road. Accounts indicate that they were a highly successful firm. The instrument in Trunch is understood to have been brought to St Botolph's Church from Marston Green, Birmingham, in 1949. 90


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Previously it had been at a church in Yardley, Birmingham. At this time it probably had a one octave G-g pedal board. Its likely original setting, as suggested by the Queen's Hall document annexed below, was in the drawing room of a stately home. Sadly, this cannot be traced. When William's son, John (d. 1849), took the family business into partnership with another London company established by Frederick Davidson, manufacture moved its focus from chamber organs for largely aristocratic domestic use to the grander design of church and cathedral organs, a market which benefited from the zeal to revitalise churches in Victoria's England. Gray & Davidson organs were the first great organ of the Victorian era (Buckingham Palace Ballroom has, for example, one of their instruments), and as such were forerunners to the magnificent Henry Willis organs (e.g. Ely Cathedral) of the high Victorian period. There is a direct link here, as Willis had learned his trade as an apprentice with Gray & Davidson.

A Local Treasure: Re-build by Williamson & Hyatt, Trunch, 1957 One of the most significant post-war organ builders in East Anglia was the company of Williamson & Hyatt of Trunch, who had their workshop in the building directly opposite the south porch of St Botolph's. They established themselves in Trunch in the mid-1950s and stayed until the late 1960s, when, as a result of contractual difficulties they had building large organs for St Edmund's Church, Southwold, and St. Mary's, Little Walsingham, they were forced to merge with the Thaxted company Cedric Arnold. They moved to Essex to form the company Arnold, Williamson & Hyatt. The workshop in Trunch became a builder's store and office and then converted to a residential dwelling in 2010. At some stage they also had a workshop in North Walsham. Williamson and Hyatt were charged by the Trunch PCC to unite the Wm. Gray organ with a full-sized pedal-board which had been donated to the church. Their 1957 rebuild used much of the original instrument, only two of the 112 lead pipes do not bear the markings of Wm. Gray. The 16' bourdon had only 12 pipes for the lowest octave. Above this, the keys activated the deepest pipes of the stopped flute. The pedal action was pneumatic and over time became sluggish and erratic. The stopped flute was provided with a strongly accentuated chiff which was much in vogue in the 1960s, making it the perfect organ for playing pieces, such as Yon's Toccata also very popular at the time. The voicing of the diapason with the principal and fifteenth produces a very clear tone, which perfectly suits the church's matchless acoustic. The resulting instrument is remarkably flexible for its size, able to lead the singing for a large congregation as well as give access beyond its Georgian origins to some of the great organ works of Bach and masters of the C20th. Williamson and Hyatt saw this instrument as one of their most important organ restorations: in a letter to the Rev. Braham dated 25th February 1958 they express their concern to provide the best instrument possible for the finite resources of the Church in times of austerity.... "It would hardly be good for our reputation otherwise", they say. The complete letter is annexed at the end of this document. The organ was to have been placed on the platform in the tower, but this idea apparently met with the disapproval of the organist at the time, Mrs Jackson. David Dunnett, current cathedral organist in Norwich, described the instruments as 'a beautiful instrument,... a very versatile organ and its small specification lends itself to music of all eras'. 91


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Organ Restoration: By Bower & Company 2011 In 2008, the bicentennial year of the Wm. Gray organ, it was clear that the organ would benefit from a general overhaul and, where possible to address some of the skilled compromises that Williamson and Hyatt had made in 1957. After fund-raising through generous grants from the John Jarrold Trust, the Leche Trust (formerly The Georgian Society), the Barbara Whatmore Trust, the On-Organ Fund, Trunch Village Society, Trunch Parish Council, St Botolph's PCC, several significant private donations and other fund-raising, such as from proceeds from the regular concerts held in the church, work by Bower and Company of Weston Longville, Norwich, commenced in 2011, These works included a thorough general overhaul to ensure all mechanical actions work consistently; re-making the wind control to make sure that the pressure of air to the pipes is more reliable and consistent; adding 18 extra salvaged pipes to enable the bourdon to be played entirely independently of the ranks of pipes of the manuals; remaking the worm-infested pedalboard; changing the action of the pedals to facilitate better responsiveness; 'softening' the chiffon the stopped flute to be more in keeping with the original Wm. Gray design; narrowing 'pallet openings' to the soundboard to give more controllable touch; restoring the casework which had suffered minor damage over the years and had faded from the warm original tones of the Spanish mahogany original, would benefit from restoration. Richard Bower is a Norfolk-based organ builder, who, like Williamson & Hyatt, combines the restoration of local and historic organs with building new organs. His many commissions have included Brasenose College, Oxford, and Gibraltar Cathedral; more can be seen at www.bowerorgans.co.uk. Richard has clear recollections of the quality of the 1957 re-build of the organ and has endeavoured to restore it more to the 1957 ideal than to the 1808 ideal, hence maintaining the organ's ability to be effectively used in the space of a large church.

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Annex 1: The Williamson & Hyatt workshop A 'past times' picture investigation by the Eastern Daily Press (2009) gives us an idea of the work they undertook in Trunch. This shows Martin Williamson and assistant John Bailey regulating an electronic action. Martin Williamson died in 2010, a year before the restoration works of the St Botolph's instrument were being undertaken. Alex Hyatt had such a high reputation for his voicing skills that he was employed later by the company Hammond for the growing range of electric home and theatre organs.

Founder is found A saga involving the identity of two organ builders has finally been resolved by the founder of the business at Trunch in north Norfolk, writes his son Benjamin Williamson. Martin Williamson, who lived at Hill House, Southrepps, is on the left of the photograph taken in May 1952 with his assistant. Unfortunately, he cannot recall his name but it is not Cedric Hyatt, who joined the business slightly later. Mr Williamson, who started building organs on his own, used to cycle or drive each day to the workshop in Trunch. Incidentally, his father, the late GA Williamson, was classics master at Norwich School for 40 years. The organ business, which later merged with another well-known business in Thaxted, Essex, became known as Cedric, Arnold, Williamson and Hyatt. In the early days, Mr Williamson was in charge of the designs, layouts and the mechanical working of the instruments while Mr Hyatt did the pipework, voicing and tuning of the organs. Mr Williamson's son, who lives in Surbiton, Surrey, said that his father was now rather frail but was amused to see his photograph taken more than half a century ago in the EDP on several occasions in recent weeks. 93


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St Botolph's Church Trunch - Guidebook  
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