Go back to normal view


St Andrew's Church, Quidenham - the building

St Andrew, Quidenham

Quidenham: beautiful and friendly

 Click on images to see them enlarged.
castle-like mighty tower flushwork on the buttresses


    St Andrew, Quidenham

We meet in St Andrew’s on the 3rd Sunday of the month at 11am, joined by the congregation of Eccles, where we worship on the 4th Sunday of the month at 11am. (We all join in at Wilby on the 2nd Sunday in a month at 9.30am, and vary between Eccles at Quidenham on the 1st Sunday of the month at 8.30am. It doesn't take too long to get used to :-). Future events are to be found in the calendar pages or on the 'What's New' column on the Home page here :-)

St. Andrew's is situated in one of the smallest villages of the six in the Quidenham Group. We have a population of approximately 100 and a small but faithful congregation of about 12 who worship here on at least one Sunday per month. This enables us to meet and worship with our friends in the neighbouring villages of Eccles and Wilby on the remaining Sundays.  Quidenham is home to the Carmelite Monastery with some 20 nuns and a Children’s Hospice, which provides respite care for children with life threatening illnesses.  In addition, there is the Quidenham Village Society, an enthusiastic group of people who care for the heritage and history of the village and provide for the social needs of villagers.  St Andrew’s is a Saxon round tower church. The Lady Chapel has a commemorative window to US airmen of the 96th Bombardment Group, who were stationed nearby at Snetterton Heath and suffered many casualties during World War II. An impressive collection of artefacts are housed in a museum close to the village in New Eccles Hall School. We also have an improved and updated children’s corner.  We are a cheerful and active PCC, always happy to consider new ways of reaching the community.  


The Church Building

St Andrew's Saxon tower has been augmented in a most elaborate fashion, a tall early Perpendicular bell stage topped off with the drama of a spire. It goes to make the church appear larger than it actually is, particularly if you approach from the south and see the 19th century aisle on this side.

The buttresses on this aisle are worth looking at, because they have flushwork monograms set into them. It is easy to assume that they are Victorian conceits, but I wondered if Mortlock might be right in suggesting that they are genuine medieval features resused from elsewhere. I wondered even if they were perhaps from the base course of a square tower at another church.

There is an aisle, but there is no clerestory, and consequently St Andrew is rather dark inside. However, it is not gloomy, because the windows are filled with richly coloured glass of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Those at the east and west ends of the aisle are lighter, creating a space which is less dark than the nave. Around the walls, memorials, as well as several of the windows, remember members of the Keppel family of Quidenham Hall. The war memorial window in the aisle is particularly striking, depicting a WWII airman looking up at a vision of Christ. It made me think of the WB Yeats poem An Irish Airman Foresees His Death.

The window depicting The Rasing of Lazarus is very fine, rendered in a cartoon style. There is also a good modern window depicting The Summons of Christ. Overseeing all this colour is an austere carved Stuart royal arms above the tower arch.

Perhaps the most moving survival in this beautiful church is a recent one. This is the memorial to Albert Keppel, who died in July 1917 while gallantly leading his company to the attack on an enemy stronghold in Belgium. He was just nineteen years old. The memorial features a gilt mosaic of St George, and above hangs the helmet that he was wearing at the time. By the summer of 1917, the First World War had become a disgusting affair, an industrial process. The fields of Flanders were no longer host to romantic charges into rifle fire, but to tanks, land mines, flame-throwers and poisonous gas. Young Albert must have been just sixteen when the War broke out - indeed, it would have been quite possible for him to still be alive today if he hadn't taken part.

I felt my eyes prick with tears as I thought about how it must have felt for his parents to have lost him in this way. When I was nineteen, my father was just the same age that I am now, so I can imagine what it would have been like for him. No doubt Albert Keppel's mum and dad felt pride that he had died for his country, but then I thought of the long years of grief that remained ahead for them.

I thought about my own son, now thirteen, and what my own grief and anger would be like. You can't think back to the mindset of the First World War, of course; the event, and the times that surrounded it, are beyond imagining. A week or so before I visited Quidenham, I stood with my son within the great Memorial to the Missing of the Somme at Thiepval in France, and we had looked up at the 75,000 names of those who had no known grave in those gentle, rolling fields of southern Picardy. We found the name of a relative, the cousin of my grandfather. We found half a dozen people who shared our surname. To be honest, I found the whole thing numbing, too enormous for grief. It isn't the large numbers that tear the heart, it is the individuals, and they are almost without number.


Simon Knott, September 2006

chanvel arch banner looking west banner north doorway
looking east Albert Keppel Albert Keppel's helmet royal arms
the Raising of Lazarus (detail) Resurrection Resurrection  
the Raising of Lazarus three Marys at the tomb roll of honour

Reproduced by kind permission of Simon Knott whose work this is.

Find more of Norfolk's churches at the Norfolk Churches site