South Creake in Norfolk is a very small village today and we really only saw the church, but it has ‘history’, and there are many interesting buildings in the area. Sadly I only found this out after our visit, and this is the problem when one doesn’t linger, or travels too quickly, you miss all sorts of interesting things! There is an iron-age fort on Bloodgate Hill – what an odd name – and a small Saxon Church at Waterden, in the middle of a field, quite isolated.
A little bit of history
William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066 and seems to have taken control of the entire country by placing his supporters and followers in strategic posts, or making them wealthy through ownership of land. South Creake was no exception. The history on the internet is somewhat confusing but it seems William gave the Manor of South Creake to William de Beaufoe1 accompanied William as his Chaplain. He also became the Bishop of Thetford in 1086, shortly after the seat was moved to Thetford from North Elmham, and held the post until his death in 1091 when he was succeeded by Herbert de Losinga. William de Beaufou was a very wealthy man through his thirty(!) Manors as well as the income from forty other towns, mainly in Norfolk and Suffolk.
One of his descendants, Ralph de Beaufou, gave St Mary’s Church and its income to Castle Acre Priory in 1181. We visited the Priory during our week and a post will follow! The Priory rebuilt the Church in the 14C and again in 1450.
St Mary’s Church in South Creake
Like the church at North Creake, just up the road, the Church of St Mary in South Creake is huge. It is 15C but replaced an earlier church on the site and as you step inside there is a wonderful odour of incense, something which I love.
Rood and Screen
The Rood of 19C is by Sir Arthur Blomfield (1829-99) who was an architect and Vice President of RIBA. It was originally made for the Church of St Mary in Colchester, Essex. Here in South Creake in Norfolk it stands high above the rood screen of the 15C from which the paint and paintings have disappeared.
Statues in the church
There are several statues in the church and together with the scent of incense remind you this is ‘high church’, or as someone put it to us, ‘bells and smells’. The wonderfully dramatic symbols which were swept away by the Reformation. There is also a Mediaeval Seven-Sacrament Font which somehow escaped my camera. And the church has a tradition of fresh flower arrangements.
The Angel Roof
Wonderfully coloured angels fly beneath the 15C roof which was restored in mid-20C.
I agree with Simon Knott,3 St Mary in South Creake in Norfolk is a magical church.