Monday, 14 September 2009

Blakeney, Norfolk


Blakeney, Norfolk, originally uploaded by Vitrearum.

Blakeney church stands high above it's village, which was once a major port on the north Norfolk coast. The church is for the most part a fifteenth century building, with a broad clerestoried nave paid for by the wealthy mercantile class who benefitted from the port trade. The chancel, is a couple of centuries earlier than the rest of the building and is a lovely example of Early English architecture. The east window consists of seven lancets set under a single hoodmould, one step in architectural development before tracery came on the scene. Attached to the north side of the chancel is an interesting and unique feature, a slender bell turret, that rises almost as high as the west tower. Is it a sanctus bellcote? Very probably, but apparently it also doubled up as a lighthouse to guide ships into the harbour and the upper parts of the bell-openings are glazed rather than louvred.

Blakeney, Norfolk

Internally the church is rather interesting too. There is a fine chancel screen and rood group above. The nave is covered with a glorious fifteenth roof with angel hammerbeams.

Blakeney, Norfolk

Blakeney, Norfolk

Internally the chancel is vaulted and the east end has an 'English altar' set before an altar screen that divides an eastern sacristy from the sanctuary.

Blakeney, Norfolk

The quire stalls incorporate medieval benchends and misericords.

Blakeney, Norfolk

Blakeney, Norfolk

5 comments:

Davis d'Ambly said...

What a very lovely church. Good Rood, Fine screen and loft, very nice English altar and while I'm not a fan of nave altars, this has been done with great care.

Allan Barton said...

It is a glorious church, it was rather too well taken care of for my taste. I prefer the mild decay of South Creake! The nave altar is reason. The frontal matches the high altar, which is a great deal of consolation.

Lapinbizarre said...

How rare are east end sacristies? I'm familiar with the one at Tideswell, but that's the only one I can think of offhand. I think they're a fairly elegant solution to what can be quite a problem - were they perhaps more common in the later middle ages? - though this one seems, maybe I'm wrong, to cut across the line of view of lower section of the unusual east window.

Anonymous said...

Ugh! A beautiful church, with a beautiful high altar NOT IN USE. The altar and what takes place on it was the focal point in Christian liturgies for centuries, and an important part of that focus was "orientation". Priest and people faced the altar TOGETHER, in the same direction, most often "east". The priest wasn't just a "presider" at a gathering around an altar or holy table, he functioned AS a PRIEST, standing not BETWEEN the people and Christ on the altar, but as a mediator and intercessor, turning from one to the other. The chancel screen served the same purpose as does an iconostasis in an Orthodox Church. It symbolised the inherent mystery of the Mass, brings to mind the Holy of Holies in Temple in Jerusalem, and physically separates THE sacred space from more general sacred space in the context of the liturgy. That Anglicans and Catholics now treat handsome and glorious high altars and rood screens as "pretty backdrops" is absurd, though the tide is slowly changing. Younger generations don't want "touchy-feely trendy", they crave the spiritual and a sense of continuity.

Allan Barton said...

Anonymous, I agree with all you've said, on on this blog you are very much preaching to the converted. As a University Chaplain one of the first things I did was remove a freestanding altar from the university chapel in order to begin to use the eastward facing high altar once again. Once the theological justification is properly explained young people prefer the long tradition of the church. The comments above yours were not justifying the nave altar at all, but that we have seen much worse. At least the freestanding altar at Blythburgh is decently vested and thus has some semblance of dignity to it.