The Black Death of 1349 halved the population and resulted in a gradual rebuilding of the houses on new sites, so the old church, St Mary’s was left seperate from its village. The nineteenth century saw a rise again in population and it was the Revd. James Mould who finally closed the old church and built a new church on a new site in 1881. The neighbouring village of Croxton was already depopulated and the church of St John the Baptist was closed at the same time.
A London architect, William Bassett-Smith designed the church we see, and the building contractor was Messrs Cornish & Gaymer of North walsham. Fittings from both old churches were reused.
The four windows facing the road on the north side each have a different tracery design. In style they compare with the late Decorated Period of the 14th century. There is a conventional porch on the north side and a bell turret made to take the 1828 bell from St Mary’s Church. It is a large bell which is swung by a wire passing through the apex of the nave roof.
The walls are striking in appearance with whiteknapped flints and cut stone dressings on the corners. The chancel has a string course around it just below the window level. Before entering the porch you will notice the iron boot scraper thoughfully provided for the muddy boots of those who walked across the fields to church. The walls are lined on the inside with a quality red brick relieved by a course of Ancaster stone at four feet.
The altar table and communion rail are nicely carved with various foliage and fruits included in the corners. They were first installed in St Mary’s church and moved here. It seems that improvements were still being made to the old church until the new one was built.
The east window has another lovely tracery design. Its glazing bears the date 1892. The central figure is Christ ascending into the heaven with the two Marys and SS Peter, James and John gazing upwards. Note Christ’s wounds on his hands and feet and His attitude of giving and blessing. The hand of God the Father also gives a blessing. To the left we see Jesus outsade the tomb saying ‘Touch me not’ and the women bringing spices to the tomb. On the right we see the other disciples come to the open tomb and Moses and Elijah.
The altar reredos was the memorial for the Revd James Mould, BD, who was Rector from 1868 to 1886. He was the courageous man who closed two churches to build one new one, and we can only guess at the difficulties. The reredos has stone arches with marble columns between. The Crucifixion scene is central, flanked by the Nativity and Baptism of Jesus. To the left we see S Matthew displaying the first oage of his gospel, and then S Mark. To the right there are SS Luke and John, and below are their emblems.
The pews in the south aisle came from St John’s Church, Croxton. They have 19th century poppy heads drilled to take pricket lights (candle holders). These items further demonstrate that people were still giving substantially to the old churches before they were closed.
The nave looking towards the font and west window. The west window has two lancets and a quatrefoil within a circle above. The font welcomes you into the church. The font has a bowl, made for this church, to stand on the four ancient stems which held the old font in Croxton Church. The fifth and central stem contains the drain for the font. The old font had lasted from the 13th century, Early English Period, and we may presume that it was cracked by the water freezing in it.