About St Nicholas Church, SwafieldThe fastest bit of road within the Trunch group runs past Swafield Church. People travelling from Southrepps or Trunch to North Walsham drive past it -usually at speed. If you are one of the speedy drivers, one day, slow down, pull into the convenient car park and take a look at this lovely old church.
The heavy iron gates are a didnified entrance to the churchyard, which is sparkling with flowers in the Spring.
The church that we now see, with its thatched roof, was built in the 14th century, with some 'modernization' in the next century. The roof-line of an earlier building can be seen above the arch thatleads into the tower. This belongs to the earlier period. The stone door-step leading into the porch is reused coffin lid, not unlike those at the back of Knapton church. In the right hand corner there is a large bowl for water, which would have been blessed by the priest and used by the people to bless themselves every time they went into the church.
As you enter, look up and admire the unusual carvings of flowers and faces which decorate the apex of the impressive roof.Itis possible that these carvings were a part of the earlier roof - or they may have been reused from another church. They must have formed part of a screen or cornice and have tantalizingly broken edges. Because they are high up and difficult to see, there are photographs in a frame on the north wall. On the same wall, there is a beautiful carving of Jesus Christ on the Cross. A description of the history of this is displayed below but it is hard to imagine how it could have survived underground - much less in the North Sea - with so much of its detail and paint intact.The figure is of the style which is usually placed above the pulpit, with the head of Jesus in a position which shows that he had not yet died.
When the church was first in use, it would have been divided into 2'rooms' by a screen surmounted by a high and narrow walk way. The entrance to this can be seen behind the organ and also on the outside of the church. Only the base of this screen has survived but it is well-worth careful attention. It contains well-preserved paintings of 8 Saints. If you enjoy a challenge, you can try to identify them by the symbolic objects that they are carrying.
Like so many of the Medieval churches of Norfolk, this one may appear at first sight to be simple and ordinary but there are always fascinating features to be discovered and admired.