Framingham Earl – St. Andrew’s Church

Although located near to Poringland, the church of Framingham Earl feels remote and peaceful.

The locked thirteenth century porch, hiding the view of the Norman doorway within.

The round church tower, probably dating from the early Norman period.

I’ve read what a few historians have made of this and I’m not sure that I’m any the wiser as their assessments vary. Ignoring those later windows, this does look old, both in terms of the wall and what looks like a Saxon window on the left. Unfortunately, my architectural knowledge isn’t good enough to be able to add much else here, but I like to think that those who say this part of the church is Saxon are correct.

There is definitely something magical with knowing this structure is over 1,000 years old, although at least it’s known that there has been a religious building on this site for at least that period. And investigations completed in 1984 do suggest that there was likely a Saxon apse at the end of the chancel, although that was unfortunately taken down long ago.

An historian writing in the Eastern Daily Press back in 1876 said that he suspected there was once a Saxon apse because the wall was much more modern at the end of the church. His hunch was entirely correct, but he also noted that he was present when these circular Saxon windows were examined. He found evidence of an old grove where a wooden frame would have been, which protected against birds or weather at a time when there might not have been any glass to do that job.

On the other side of the chancel, I think that’s another Saxon window. I note that George Plunkett also thinks it’s Saxon and I’m pleased at that, as he seems to very rarely be wrong.

One of the church’s two mass dials.

This one doesn’t make sense to me, it’s a mass dial but it’s upside down. Unless I’ve misunderstood its purpose, this is likely the result of the Victorian restorers.

The grave of one of the most respected writers of the late twentieth century, Winfried Georg Sebald (1944-2001) who was killed in a car crash and is buried here as he lived nearby.

The churchyard.

And, on a personal note. I didn’t meander around many of the graves here, as they were mostly too modern to have much historic interest to me. I did note one particularly nice gravestone that I went to look at, before realising that it was someone in the same school year as me who died young. I didn’t know that he was from this part of Norfolk, but his gravestone and its message is beautiful. I can think of very few modern gravestones which have intrigued me, so for it to transpire to be someone I knew made it quite poignant. God bless his soul.