Thursday, 27 August 2015

Pilgrim's Progress

Norfolk is a wonderful county for cycling as it still possesses enough small lanes and by-ways to keep one away from the dreaded main roads and rat-runs where many drivers of German saloon cars appear to view cyclists as prey. It can be a bit challenging working out routes that avoid the dangerous roads and dual carriageways (or motorways as we Norfolk folk refer to them) but it does lead to some serendipitous discoveries of charming rural hamlets.

One thing I do keep discovering, though, is the wonderful rich treasure of Norfolk's Churches and I've decided to make a habit of taking pictures of them on my rural cycle rambles to show the variety of these often 1000 year old buildings that are tucked away, often in the middle of nowhere. There are over 800 Churches in Norfolk and I'm indebted to the incredible resource of and the assiduous work of Simon Knott for the ability to simply spot any Church and look up a well written history.

Here's my first three from a recent trip to Watton:

St Botolph, Stow Bedon:

Stow Bedon is not so much a village as two very small hamlets a mile or so apart, and cycling between them I came across this little gem. Its isolation was presumably less obvious when Stow Bedon was more densely populated but it stands proud on a gentle rolling hill. Some parts date back to the 14th Century but during World War 2 a German bomber returning from the Midlands dropped spare bombs alongside and it lay in ruins. Simon Knott points out that its surprising post-war renovation may have been prompted by the loss of 4 medieval Churches to the adjacent Stanford Battle Area. 

All Saints Rocklands

Rocklands is another of those odd groups of villages in the area and spread over several square miles. About half a mile from the nearest habitation, atop a hill and with an air of strange isolation is All Saints Church. It looks well tended and offers a sharp contrast to some of the other Rockland churches which are in ruins.

Holy Cross, Caston

Caston is a much more cohesive village than those surrounding, and boasts a school and the Red Lion Pub. The Church of the Holy Cross is visible from a mile or so away and stands on the village green but right next to a fully operational cattle farm on the other side. The road goes past the unusual West entrance door in ogee-arch shape.


Sir Bruin said...

Nice pics, sir. BTW, I know someone else who views cyclists as fair game.

Z said...

I was so thrilled, years ago, to see a message from Simon in the village church's comment book. I went on his website and left a message - okay, fan mail. I thanked him profusely.

I've done the church cycle ride a couple of times on the 2nd Saturday in September. Once round Norwich churches and once in the Rackheath area. Only 4 months before my hip finally packed in and was replaced, 19.5 miles was the very limit of my endurance.

Mike and Ann said...

Your are right Rog. In Norfolk and Suffolk we are spoiled for superb Churches. And I can think of three in Essex that are all incredibly early, and each in its own way, quite unique. We are very privileged to live in East Anglia.

Anonymous said...

lovely photos - I wish there were safe places around here to ride a bike!

Nota Bene said...

Lovely churches, lovely pictures, lovely idea. Around us, country lanes are the favourite haunts of mechanical monsters wanting to eat cyclists

Pat said...

The first one is my favourite - a picture book church.