All Saints Church

The Grade 1 listed, thatched church of All Saints dates from late Saxon or early Norman times.  It stands north of Edingthorpe village on a low hill, surrounded by trees. Its construction is of flint and brick with freestone dressing. The earliest parts of the church are the north and west walls of the nave, which are probably late Saxon or early Norman in date. The west tower is 12th or 13th century, topped with an unusual 14th century octagonal belfry. The chancel and most of the remainder of the church is 14th century with later alterations. The nave roof is thatched, while the chancel is pantiled.

On entering the church through the medieval south door there is a 14th century decorated octagonal font and hanging behind it, the remains of the 12th century north door, which was replaced in 2000.

Of particular note are the paintings on the north wall dating from the 14th century. They show St. Christopher carrying the Christ Child on his left arm and his flowering staff in his right. Fish are swimming around his legs to indicate that he is wading through water.  The Christ Child sports a halo and an orb of the world, and is giving a gesture of blessing. Further on is the remains of a tree with scenes on its branches depicting the Seven Works of Mercy, and a niche with a red and black floral surround, which presumably held a statue at some time. There may be yet more paintings under the plaster.

The rood screen, which separates the body of the church from the chancel, also dates to the 14th century, and is one of the earliest surviving in Norfolk.  The six panels show figures of saints, largely painted in red and green, and on top are arches with black and white spiral decorations with two tracery wheels in the centre. On the north side of the screen are St Bartholomew with his flencing knife, St Andrew with his saltire cross and St Peter with his keys. On the south side are St Paul with his sword, St John with his book and martyr’s palm and St James with his staff and scallop shell.

In the chancel is a striking modern sculpture of the Virgin Mary fronted by the Christ Child with outstretched arms. This was made by pupils at North Walsham High School.

The church has remained largely unchanged, a fact noted with approval by the Great War poet Siegfried Sassoon, who spent childhood holidays in Edingthorpe, and visited again in the 1930s. Behind the church there is a splendid view towards Knapton, Paston and the Bacton Gas terminal. The peaceful churchyard is full of snowdrops and wild daffodils in spring.

A very evocative account of a visit to Edingthorpe Church can be found on the Norfolk Churches website here.

The Lych Gate – a Commonwealth War Memorial

The lych gate is very special, being classed as a Commonwealth War Grave. It commemorates Lance Corporal Bernard John Muriel who died in the Great War. He was the son of Harvey Muriel, the Rector of Edingthorpe from 1903-1922. The Rev. Harvey Muriel died in 1924 and is buried in the churchyard.

His son Lance Corporal Muriel had a truly terrible war, serving from 1904 with the 1st battalion (9th foot) Royal Norfolk Regiment. He went to France in August 1914 and took part in the retreat from Mons, the battles of Le Cateau, Marne and Aisne, and the first battle of Ypres. After being invalided home, he rejoined his regiment and in April 1915 was gassed at Hill 60, south of Ypres. On his recovery he was transferred to the 1st battalion Essex Regiment, and was drowned in August 1915 when his transport ship HMT Royal Edward was sunk by an enemy submarine on its way to Gallipoli. 

Others lost in WW1 are commemorated on the reverse side of the gate, together with the latin inscription ‘Qui ante diem periit sed miles pro patria’. Translated, this means ‘who died in a far off land before his time, but for his country’. It comes from the poem ‘Clifton Chapel’ by Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938).

There are also commemoration boards in the church chancel, for those lost in both world wars. A remembrance service is held at the gate each November.

Remembering those lost in WW1

Guardsman John William Childs was born in Edingthorpe on 15 April 1893. His father was Samuel Childs and they lived in The Street. John worked as a farm labourer, and on 31 July 1915 he married Lucy Bullen at St. Matthews Church, Thorpe Hamlet, Norwich. He served in the 2nd Bn., Coldstream Guards (Service no: 14949) and died on 28 September 1916. He is buried in Portsmouth (Milton) Cemetery, 1.6.65.

Private Reginald Kenneth Harvey, the son of Jonathan and Emily Jane Harvey, was born in Saxlingham in 1896, but lived with his parents and four siblings in Clay Lane, Edingthorpe Green. Formerly a farm labourer, he was in the Labour Corps (service no: 495113), a British Army unit formed in 1917 for manual and skilled labour on the Western Front and Salonika during the First World War. He died on 6 March 1919, aged 23, and is buried in the south-east part of Edingthorpe All Saint’s churchyard.

Private Walter Percy Pye was born in Aylsham on 16 November 1893. In 1911 he was living ‘near Blacksmith’s Yard’ in Edingthorpe, with his mother Elizabeth and stepfather James Boulter. He was in the 2nd. Bn., Royal Fusiliers (service no: G/81350) and died on 25 March 1918, aged 19. His is remembered in the Arras Memorial, France, Bay 3.

Gunner (Frederick) Robert Scott was born in Edingthorpe on 8 March 1894 and baptised in North Walsham in April. His parents were Walter and Emma Scott. Walter was a cowman and Robert worked as a farm labourer before enlisting in Norwich. They lived at Heath Cottages, Edingthorpe. Robert was a member of the 67th Siege Bty., Royal Garrison Artillery (serial no:5001), and died on 6 November 1916, aged 22. He is remembered in the Thistle Dump Cemetery, High Wood, Longueval, France, E8.

Private (William) George Spinks was born in Bacton in 1895, and baptised at St. Andrew’s Church, Bacton on 5 May 1895. In the 1901 and 1911 census he was living near Hill Farm, Edingthorpe Green, with his parents George and Anne, and four siblings. He worked as a farm labourer and his father was a teamman. He was a member of the 8th Bn., Norfolk Regiment (service no: 15714), and died on 1 July 1916, aged 21. He is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 1C and 1D).

Second Lieutenant Frederick Robert Watts was born about 1891 and lived Bacton Wood Mill Farm, Edingthorpe, with his parents Walter and Sarah Watts and four siblings. Walter was a farmer and dairyman and Frederick a farm worker. He joined the 12th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Bn., Norfolk Regiment and died on 29 August 1918, aged 20, possibly at the Second Battle of the Somme. He is remembered with honour at the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium, panel 1.

Remembering those lost in WW2

Sergeant John Clem Hedge lived at Stone Corner, Edingthorpe Green with his parents Ernest and Eva Hedge. He was a Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (service no: 1552095) and died on 15 May 1943, aged 20. He is commemorated in Edingthorpe Church, but his parents also established the war memorial set in the wall at The Green.

Private John Neal was a member of the 5th Bn, Royal Norfolk Regiment (service no: 5772634) who died on 27 September 1943,aged 37. He is commemorated at Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, Burma, B3 Z13. This cemetery records those who were taken prisoner by the Japanese and who died while working on the Burma ‘Death Railway’.

Flight Lieutenant (Reginald) Beverley Oliver was born in Dedham, Essex in about 1893. He was the son of the Revd. Samuel Oliver, and married to Elsie Kendall Oliver. He was based at Fighter Command, Gravesend, Kent (service no: 87934), but had also served in WW1. He died on 31 March 1942, aged 49 and is buried in the churchyard of St Andrews, Bacton (A33). He is also commemorated in Edingthorpe Church and at the war memorial at Edingthorpe Green, as his parents were living in Edingthorpe.

Private Cecil Herbert Scott was a lance-corporal in the 1st Btn, Royal Norfolk (Infantry) Regiment (service no: 5775884). He was born on 2 November 1919. In 1939 he was living at Wood Cottages, Witton Heath, aged 19 and working as a fruit canner in North Walsham. He married Winifred Florence Wilson in 1943 in Edmonton, London, and had a son, Robin. Cecil died on 27 June, 1944, at the end of WW2, during the Battle for Normandy, which began with D-day on 6 June. He is commemorated at La Delivrande War Cemetery at Douvres, III F 1A, and on the War Memorial at Edingthorpe Green.