Travelling from A to B is always an opportunity to see things along the way that you wouldn’t necessarily visit and on the road to North Norfolk we stopped at one or two small places in addition to Wymondham Abbey.
Forncett St Peter
The first stop was in Forncett St Peter which has a tenuous connection with William Wordsworth,1 although we didn’t know it before visiting. The church is a Grade I listed building and it is set in a vast graveyard, surrounded by trees, and very quiet. The Saxon round tower is huge and in very good order. As always, the website to consult is that of Simon Knott.2
Inside the Church of St Peter
The church is quite plain inside but the bench ends are extraordinary. There are beautifully carved little figures, all different, and it would be easy to spend quite a lot of time here with a camera and tripod. Another project! According to Simon Knott these are not Mediaeval, but a Victorian realisation of Mediaeval carvings.
The small town of Hingham looked interesting so we stopped to see if the church was just as interesting as that of Forncett St Peter. It was, and the Church of St Andrew held a huge surprise – a connection with America. Apparently the town was fanatically Puritan in the 1600s and a large number of its leading citizens emigrated to America where they established Hingham in Masschusetts.3 Amongst these new settlers were the ancestors of Bill Gates, the Presidents Bush, and Nicholas Gilman, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence. Also Samuel Lincoln whose decendant Abraham Lincoln is commemorated in the church.
The Church of St Andrew the Apostle in Hingham
This enormous church dates from the mid-1300s when it was built by Remegius de Hethersett. Clearly Hingham was a very prosperous market town at the time. The stained glass windows are astonishing and include stained glass from Germany at the East end, the best of its kind in Norfolk. And there is an Angel Roof.
But perhaps the most extraordinary sight is the enormous red stone tomb of Thomas, Lord Morley, dating from the 1400s. The 5th Baron Morley (1393-1435) was the lord of several manors in Norfolk and a high-ranking and highly-regarded soldier and subject of the king. He married Isobel de la Pole, a daughter of the 2nd Duke of Suffolk.
And so on through Dereham on the road to North Norfolk to finally arrive in Reepham after a wonderful day.