Bradfield: St Giles, Bradfield
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St. Giles is now a "Chapel of Ease" in the Parish of Trunch with Swafield and Bradfield.
Our small congregation has adapted to change, as I expect all churches have done over the centuries. Our organist’s arthritis means we now sing unaccompanied “a cappella”, so most of our hymns are old favourites with familiar tunes! We frequently have Morning Prayer led by the Church Warden; this is the usual service with the exception of the sermon, which is replaced with a suitable poem or reading. You will be very welcome to join us; it may be a service you will remember for some time!
Service dates for 2017
Mar 5th 10:45 Morning Prayer led by the Church Warden (approx. 45 minutes long).
Mar 12th 10:45 Morning Prayer led by a Lay Reader.
Mar 19th 10:45 at St. Botolphs Trunch; Holy Communion.
Mar 26th 10:45 at Trunch Methodist Chapel; a Mothering Sunday service.
Apr 2nd 10:45 Morning Prayer led by the Church Warden (approx. 45 minutes long).
Our visitors (holiday makers, walkers and cyclists using the Paston Way or our Quiet Lanes, "church collectors" or those who just arrive by happy chance) are very welcome.
This pretty little church is open at all times and welcomes all who wish to come and pray, contemplate or just sit in the quiet of the country side.
The handsome three stage perpendicular tower was beautifully built with some chequered patterns of lime stone and flint but strangely has no parapet. St. Giles has had some restructuring and rebuilding work done over the years but still retains its medieval character. There were once aisles which were demolished around 1785 and windows inserted into the filled-in arcades, as the church was too large. Then in 1860 the Victorians refurbished the interior (see the cutting below for a contemporary account).
Then in 2003 the chancel roof was stripped and re-slated at a cost of £48,000. The VAT reclaimed (£6,058) almost paid for the latest major repair in 2012 to the silence chamber floor, which was itself in danger of immanent collapse. The cause was the rubbish brought in by pigeons and jackdaws; the remedy was to upgrade the wire mesh covering the sound openings.
Now in 2017, the tower roof is in danger of imminent collapse. A grant application is being made, with a possibility of builders starting work in two years’ time. Meanwhile the tower, from the ground up, is out of bounds.
Many of the changes are there for you to “read” in your imagination. An earlier floor is nine inches below the wood one. The aisles were how much bigger? And was the church much darker? With no electric lighting, the lamps you see are each rated at 200 candle power. Look up at the painting above the arch. It may not be a masterpiece but is probably typical for a small rural (poorer) church, which employed an itinerant journeyman to paint it.
Thank you for reading this far. Incidentally, if I have made any errors, please let me know. Also if there is an addition you feel would be useful, I would appreciate an email. Thanks.
(MK Feb. 2017)
St. Giles is a rural church, very rural, on a single track road. Please take great care when you visit us as we share the lanes with walkers, cyclists, horse riders and wild life. Also some rather large farm equipment uses the lanes!
Lastly a press cutting from the Norfolk Chronicle and Norwich Gazette dated 21st July 1860.
Bradfield (North Walsham).
The church here, which has lately undergone considerable repair and restoration, was re-opened on Wednesday last in the afternoon. Evening prayer was read by the Rev. H. P. Leakey, rector, assisted by the Rev. Geo. King and the Rev. J. Dolphin. The sermon was preached by the Ven. Archdeacon Bouverie. … The church at Bradfield was originally a building considerable beauty, of which traces remain in the chancel with its elegant pinnacles at the east end. Its architectural effect is, however, greatly diminished by the destruction of the aisles, which act of Vandalism was perpetrated at the close of the last century. The beautiful capitals and arches of the nave are yet visible from within. The fabric is now thoroughly repaired, and the fittings renewed, nearly entirely with solid oak. The monstrous pews with which the church was formerly encumbered are now replaced with open benches of good design and execution. And a handsome pulpit, prayer desk, and altar rails have been fixed. The work was executed under the direction of Mr. R. Kitton, architect of this city, by Mr. R. Cornish, of North Walsham, whose share in the work is most creditable. The cost of these improvements amounts to more than £500, which has been in part defrayed by a grant of £75 from the Incorporated Church Building Society, and by the subscriptions of the landowners and inhabitants of the parish. At the service on Wednesday a collection of £24 was made, but a deficit yet remains, which it is hoped will soon be supplied.
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The current editor is: Mike King