St Mary's Church, West Somerton, May 2013
It all started with angels
A short distance off the Horsey to Winterton road is West Somerton’s St Mary’s Church. Described as “ancient and atmospheric” this small church is special from the very moment you see it.
Twenty History Group members and guests visited in May and were personally conducted by churchwardens Pauline and Simon, who had received the English Heritage Angel Award 2012 for the best rescue or repair of a historic place of worship, following a twenty year programme of reconstruction and restoration.
We gathered that it all started with the angels. They form the most prominent part of the rare medieval wall paintings found under layers of Puritan whitewash. Walls sagged apart, rain seeped in, lichen grew on the bat droppings, and slowly the paintings were being destroyed. After extensive work to walls, roof and tower all this has been fixed and the paintings are safe for a while. Now they need to be conserved - so the fund-raising process continues.
We were also conducted round the Somerton Hall site, passing the tomb of the Norfolk Giant, and learning about the medieval leper colony. Daylight faded and the chill breeze crept round our collars. It was easy to imagine ourselves back to when the church was first built, looking out over the windswept marsh.