CofE Norwich Diocese The Briningham Benefice

St Andrew's Church, Brinton



The above picture is a Google Maps virtual tour. You can move around the church, using the mouse, and also go through the door into the churchyard. Click here to see a larger version of this virtual tour, together with some photographs.

St Andrew's church Brinton St Andrew's church Brinton the village green

Welcome to a much loved village church, probably dating from 1360. St Andrew's Church, Brinton, lies very much at the centre of the village, which in architectural terms has not changed much since the Georgian period. As one of the smallest churches in the locality, it has a seating capacity of 120. Services are held regularly and alternate between Holy Communion and Evensong. We hope this guide will interest you in both the history of the church, items of specific interest and the efforts made over the centuries to keep it open and in good order for future generations. Most recent improvements have been the renewal of the electric system and the very generous gift of the excellent heating by the Rev. Frank Ward in memory of his wife Frances.

The nave is an early example of a double framed, archbraced roof. In 1965 the nave and transept roofs were repaired at a cost of nearly £5000. The angels were painted to show the arms of St. Andrew, Christ the King, Norwich Diocese and Astley, Patron of the living. The two in the Sanctuary are Marquis of Lothian, to mark the union with Hunworth and Stody and Walsingham Rural District Council to recall the formation of the Brinton Group. The march of change has seen the formation of the Briningham Benefice, while rural district councils have been amalgamated with the North Norfolk District Council.

The altar was refurbished in 1954 and is dressed with yew candlesticks and a cross carved by Lady Bullard. There is now no chancel. It may have been removed (possibly because it burnt down) before the re-roofing of 1544. In 1529 the Rev. John Skye: "Wills to be St Andrew - pew end carving buried in the church and gives to the edifying of a new roof 20 Marks when the parishioners shall begin it". To the right of the altar is the pillar piscine, whose carved top was recovered from one of the buttresses but was originally part of the chancel. The pews may also have been carved at the same time as the re-roofing, as 1544 is marked on the end of the back pew.

Inside the cupboard to the left of the altar are the Rood stairs. Every church in the 15th century had its own Rood screen with loft above and group of figures. Their destruction in the early years of Elizabeth's reign was so general that few remain. A screen can be visited at Upper Sheringham and at Bale there is still the pulley for the Rowell light which hung in front of the Rood.

Outside the church and round to the north, in the gable of the transept, can be seen the early English statue of St. Andrew, uncovered in 1871. For how long was it hidden? - Possibly 300 years. What is known is that in 1538, Henry VIII enjoined that: "Such images as had been abused to superstition be taken down". Again in 1547, just after the accession of Edward VI, Orders in Council were issued: "That all images whatsoever should be taken out of churches". It is presumed that both the vandalism of the figures carved on the pew ends and loss of mediaeval glass occurred at this time. This is also when the texts "Fruitful and Profitable Sentences" may have been painted above the font, although they may be the result of a canon law passed in 1604 ordering biblical texts to replace paintings of saints. These texts were subsequently obscured by a flimsy gallery which was removed in 1869 when the organ was moved to its current position.

At the base of the tower is a fireplace - this was originally used by travelling pilgrims when sheltering overnight and was still used in 1894 to warm the church as well as the furnace beneath the grating. The single bell, recast in 1617 by John Brand, was rehung in 1957 when the tower was re-roofed and new ladders bought for regular inspection for the grand total of £500.

Window

There is no ancient glass in Brinton church. The most recent window is on the south side, where the story of St. Andrew is illustrated by Paul Quail at the top while the installation of clear glass by Peter Campling replaces the yellow Victorian glass. This was kindly donated by the Dowson family in memory of their parents who lived at the Thatched House for many years. The East window has a representation of the Epiphany and is dated 1895. The glass of the Brereton window on the south side of the sanctuary was removed from the Temple Grove school chapel in 1907. It was designed and made by A. L. Moore who gives his name on the glass. The aisle has a copy of Schoeffer's 'Christ the Healer' by A. Moore dated 1892. In the transept, behind the organ, is the Annunciation, flanked by the four matriarchs in St. Matthew's Genealogy. They are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. Above them is depicted St. Ann teaching the Blessed Virgin to read. West of the church door is a Sanctus window in the four languages of English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. The winged man with the scroll in English depicts St. Matthew, the ox with the scroll in Greek depicts St. Mark, the lion with the scroll in Hebrew depicts St. Luke and the eagle with the scroll in Latin depicts St. John. The tracery of the tower window depicts the baptism of Our Lord. For more about our stained glass, please click here.

Window

The original font has been incorporated into the wall by the main door and replaced with a much larger version. The original main door key has been put on display - replaced with a key that can be duplicated! Outside the vestry door hangs the bell from H.M.S. Brinton, a 'ton' class minehunter named after this village and now decommissioned. It was the last wooden-hulled ship serving in the British Navy (apart from H.M.S. Victory!). The porch has a small scratch dial to the left of the door that pre-dates the building of the porch itself.

Externally, the oldest wall of the church is to the east of the porch, but this has been re-faced, buttressed and made higher at various times over the last 900 years. The church probably dates from 1360 which means it was built after the Black Death, 1349-50. There is evidence of Saxon walls found during the restoration.

The walls of the church have a surface of 'flints with galletting'. These are small broken flints set in mortar between normal flints. The tower was built early in the Perpendicular period (around 1400) and possibly replaced an earlier round tower. At the base of the tower, there is a course of square panels of black knapped flint alternating with plastered squares.

The graveyard is enclosed by a flint and brick wall thought to date from 1805. There are several graves, tombs, floor slabs and memorials to members of the Brereton family who were prominent landowners and merchants, based at the Hall from 1660 almost continuously until 1920. In fact, the Bevington organ now in the church came from Brinton Hall, possibly gifted to the church by the Brereton family.

There is a bench situated on the south side of the church for the benefit of anyone who wishes to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet of a country churchyard.

For more information about St Andrew's Church, Brinton see:
www.norfolkchurches.co.uk
www.norfolkstainedglass.co.uk