Church open dawn till dusk
A warm and peaceful welcomes you to Irstead Church which is open daily during daylight hours, and which was awarded "Highly Commended" in the Diocese of Norwich, Most Welcoming Church Awards 2016 . St Michael's is a Broadland church of character and great charm situated in the hamlet of Irstead,150m from public moorings on the River Ant just below Barton Broad on the Norfolk Broads.
St Michael's is basically a 14th century church (probably a reconstruction on the site of a 12th century church) with a 15th century South Aisle, so there has been 600 years of worship and prayer here. The walls are built of flint with stone and brick dressings. The nave and chancel are thatched with local reed and sedge capping with a traditional decoration of split hazel.
Above the South porch is a modern sculpture of St Michael fighting the serpent (dragon like), then entrance to the church is by a very old oak door with a decorative ironwork plate which date from about 1290. Arabic numerals can be seen on the inside of the door which may represent the carpenter's numbering. Norman fragments on the inside of the north (now blocked up) and south doorways can also be seen.
During the last few years Irstead PCC has been exploring the history of St Michael's, the village of Irstead and its people. A booklet entitled "Irstead Life and Times" about the life of Alan Cox, now 88 years, born and brought up in Irstead, is on sale in the church and to whom we owe much of the information collated for our archives. Regular exhibitions about Irstead are held in the church during Open Churches Week in August (see above)..
To mark the Centenary of the First World War we have become part of Neatishead, Irstead and Barton Turf Community Heritage Group and their two year project entitled "Living through World War 1 in three Norfolk Broadland Villages - Neatishead, Irstead and Barton Turf" undertook meticulous research to establish all those from the villages who served their country during WW1 and who are now remembered on a new memorial plaque at the New Victory Hall dedicated in November 2015. Please visit the project's dedicated website to find our more information about the project and the men researched.
Those men who fell in both WW1 and WW2 are remembered on memorials in each of the three parish churches and in Neatishead Baptist Church and during November information about each of those men remembered will be on display in the churches.
We are interested in all historical information (photos, memories, documents) relating to life in Irstead, to borrow or copy, in order that we may then use the information in displays or keep in our archives, so please use the email contact on this page to get in touch.
Neatishead Primary School (in the next village) have written a guide to our church especially for children and their families - see our photo album on this website. Do come along, follow the trail and take the booklet home to remind you of your visit.
St Michael's is part of the local Dragon Trail which includes St Benedict's Church at Horning, St Catherine's Church at Ludham and St Benet's Abbey. Pick up a leaflet in the church or click on the link right of the page.
The NIB, our Parish Magazine, available to download, see under "News". Find out about local events in Irstead, Neatishead and Barton Turf and the other villages in our Benefice.
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