The North Norfolk village with the fascinating history
The Church from the heath c.1820
Three Churches on one site?
From an Archaeological report on Salthouse church by Edwin J. Rose of Norfolk Landscape
Archaeology November 2000.
After thorough consideration, Edwin Rose favoured the idea that there was not
one earlier church on this site, but two.
He said that if the ridge along the north wall of the church (covering a buried wall footing) does mark the edge of
an earlier church, then either that church was wider than the present one or else there are three periods here:
a church to the north, replaced by a church on the present site (of which only the tower remains), reconstructed
to form the present building.
He pointed out another factor to be taken into account—the doorway from the north
aisle into the sacristy (shown left):
‘This door is round-headed and very crude,
it very much gives the impression of a fragment of a Norman church incorporated into the present building. But if this is
the case then the foundations to the north must presumably be pre-Norman; it is very difficult to work out any plan of an
earlier church on the present site that would satisfactorily incorporate this doorway. It is something of a mystery.’ The comparatively large stone-rimmed, blocked-up hole in the south wall of the
church’s thirteenth-century tower is another mystery; early churchwardens have referred
to it as a walled-up Hermit’s window (through which, perhaps, very early parishioners wanting prayers might have
shown their respects, or offered food, to the holy man inside), but Mr Rose didn’t think much of this fanciful idea.
‘The opening in the tower base cannot be an anchorite’s walled-up cell’ he explained. ‘Such cells
were always positioned with a view of the high altar so that the occupant could watch the Elevation of the Host.’
Could it have been a window through which bread was handed out to the poor by the Overseers? This is one more of the
mysteries of this church’s construction waiting to be solved.
© Val Fiddian 2005
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