Ancient buildings are in a league of their own
Five beautiful Broadland places of worship
Have you noticed the majestic way churches can dominate the Norfolk landscape? Their lofty towers, visible for miles, can feel as much a part of Broads as hearing the boom of a bittern or a getting a glimpse of a swallowtail butterfly.
The five churches on these pages are just a short walk from broads and rivers and, at two of them, you can virtually moor up outside.
You might be forgiven for clinging to your car – we are all in need at times – but set your sights on one or two churches rather than all five in one go and you can slacken the pace. Make it a slow-motion day by pottering in a day-boat, tramping across the fields in the fresh air, or cycling down twisty lanes lined with reeds waving in the breeze.
Let your mind wander back through the centuries as you discover the sheer glory of our Broads’ churches, fashioned and furnished by the devoted labours of past generations. You’ll come across ancient wall paintings, dazzling stained glass, exquisite carving and the lavishly decorated chancel screens for which Norfolk is justly famous.
It’s remarkable that we are able to wander freely into buildings of this stature to wonder at their contents and reflect on so many centuries of devotion, prayer and worship.
Churches continue to be loved and treasured by the volunteers who care for them and the communities they serve. So, sunburnt and happy, don’t forget a donation to pop in the wall safe as a thank you for an unforgettable day out.
In the round: The ancient Norman tower of St Nicholas Potter Heigham was given an octagonal extension in the 14th century.
Power and the glory: The magnificent roof and chancel arch at St Nicholas, Potter Heigham
High point: Belaugh St Peter stands proudly on a bluff above the River Bure
Animal magic: Exquisite carvings of animals feature on the bench ends at Irstead St Michael
Famous screen: Rector of St Helen’s, the Rev Canon Nick Garrard, shows the east side of the Ranworth screen
Girl power: The elaborate 15th century font at Ludham St Catherine features an unusual female woodwose. Loosely translated as ‘wildmen’ it’s not surprising few woodwose are female
Heroic: St Michael himself battles with a serpent in this modern sculpture in the porch niche at Irstead church
Up in arms: The tympanum in St Catherine’s, Ludham shows the arms of Elizabeth I on the east side and has a tale to tell
Saints alive: The 15th century screen at Ludham St Catherine, one of Norfolk’s best