Southrepps – St. James’s Church

Southrepps is a small village in the north of Norfolk, which we visited when marshalling the LDWA 100 and we’ve also used it as a checkpoint during events. However, although the church remains today a large structure, it was once a much more substantial building with side aisles and there was clearly some wealth here in the past.

The Grade I listed church dates from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, although it was constructed on the same site as an earlier building. The four-stage tower, which is grand and rather beautiful, dates from the middle of the fifteenth century. There are scallop shells in the stone, as the church is dedicated to St. James of Compostella.

The font, which is from the fourteenth century (and has recently been restored), and the base of the tower. There are six bells in the tower, with one dating to fifteenth century, four of them dating to 1641 and the other one is more recent, from 1988.

The side aisles were removed in 1791 although the arcading is still visible on the side of the nave. I assume that the structural situation and lack of finances at the time meant that the removal of the aisles was inevitable, but I wonder if the congregation of the time were somewhat saddened at the situation. There wouldn’t have been much of a congregation by the end of the eighteenth century and funding a church of that size would have been of some considerable burden to the locals. The impressive roof is a more recent addition, having been reconstructed at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The medieval screen with its oak panels, which I assume were painted over following the Reformation as there isn’t much imagery remaining.

The church’s grand chancel, much restored in the nineteenth century.

It’s fair to say that the window arrangement in the chancel allows a considerable amount of light into the church.

What I assume is a piscina in the wall of the chancel, perhaps original to here or perhaps from the end of one of the removed aisles.

There isn’t much left from the medieval chancel, as nineteenth century modernisations swept most of that away, but these sections remain.

Unfortunately, it seems that the stone here is still crumbling (but on the bright side, the church was granted some restoration funds a few weeks ago), but I like the touches of medieval history that remain here.

This is a rather beautiful church and an effort is made to keep it open which is really lovely. The tall tower, one of the highest in the county, is a reminder of the wealth which once existed in Southrepps, despite the impact that the Black Death had in the area.