An au­tumn walk with Peter James of Nor­folk Ram­blers

EDP Norfolk - - INSIDE -

Ram­ble around Hempnall and Saxlingham Nethergate


The start is op­po­site the school. With the school on your right, fol­low the road to the war me­mo­rial. Bear left into Fairstead Lane, then turn right on to Py­mars Lane. Fol­low the track through the farm­yard and at the end of the build­ings on your left take the track to the left.

At the cor­ner, turn right and fol­low the path through to the T-junc­tion. If do­ing the short walk turn right, fol­low to the road, turn right again then take the path on the right. At the fence turn right where you re-join the main walk at para­graph four.

For the other walk turn right, then left; at the end of the field turn left, fol­low the path to the gap. Turn right then left be­tween the hedges, fol­low through to the track to the horse sanc­tu­ary. Turn right on Wash Lane then right. At the marker post on the right go on to the meadow; at the woods bear left. Off to the right is an en­trance into the woods where you will find the re­mains of Saxlingham Thorpe Church. Pass through the ru­ins, fol­low the path through the woods, turn right then, at the fin­ger­post, turn left. Fol­low the path to the school on to the road. If do­ing the medium walk turn right, then cross the road at the cor­ner, turn left on to Hall Lane. At the Boudica Way fin­ger­post turn right, fol­low to the road, turn left at the phone box, turn right, fol­low the track to the gates then fol­low the path be­tween the fence and hedge to the bridge where you join main walk at para­graph four.

For the main walk cross the road; pass­ing the vil­lage sign en­ter the church­yard. Fol­low the path to the left of the church. At the bot­tom go through the gate, fol­low the path. Be­fore the stile turn right, fol­low­ing this path to the road. Turn left then right. Just be­fore the wind tur­bine take the path on the right, fol­low it over the bridge then go through the gate.

Fol­low­ing the fence, at the end turn right on to the road, then left. Fol­low the track to the end. At the woods, turn right, pass through the kiss­ing gate. Fol­low the path; pass­ing the first path off to the left. At the se­cond path cross the bridge on your left. Fol­low the path to the end, then take the cross-field path left to the cor­ner of the hedge. Turn right, cross the bridge and fol­low to the se­cond bridge. Fol­low the path with a hedge on your left; at the end of the field take the long cross-field path. Head to­wards the pole in the field then go straight on to a gap to an en­closed path. Fol­low, bear­ing left then right to the road. Turn right at the end of the road and you are back on the road you have parked on.

(A) Ru­ins of St Mary’s Church, Saxlingham Thorpe

he church that once stood here prob­a­bly orig­i­nated in the late Saxon pe­riod as shown by the de­sign of the nave and the two Saxo-Nor­man phases vis­i­ble in the chan­cel. Other fea­tures, like the tower and but­tresses, date to around 1500.

Re­pairs to the build­ing stopped in 1684 and by 1687 the build­ing was ru­ined with ma­te­ri­als be­ing used to re­pair St Mary’s Church in Saxlingham Nethergate.

The church prob­a­bly fell out of use as vil­lagers mi­grated away from Saxlingham Thorpe to other more hos­pitable lo­ca­tions in the val­ley.

(B) St Mary’s Church, Saxlingham Nethergate

his church is set in a beau­ti­ful po­si­tion, nes­tled be­tween the Old Rec­tory and Old Hall. It traces its ear­li­est ori­gins to the late Saxon pe­riod but much of the ar­chi­tec­ture, in­clud­ing the grand tower with brick and flint bat­tle­ments, dates to the 14th and 15th cen­turies.

The ex­te­rior was heav­ily re­stored in 1867 and the clock and sun­dial have been re­paired more re­cently. In­side there is a fine col­lec­tion of stained glass win­dows, with those in the south chan­cel be­ing the ear­li­est ex­am­ples to be found in any Nor­folk church. Vis­i­tors should also take note of the im­pres­sive 18th cen­tury me­mo­rial to John Baron and the chunky stone font dec­o­rated with roses and rather smug-look­ing lions!

Saxlingham Nethergate church

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