History of St Ethelbert's

Larling Interior 1The west tower is in the 15th century 'Perpendicular' style. In 1473, Peter Benne, of Thetford left £1 "ad fabrica nova campanilis (i.e., the new tower) in ecclia de Lerling", and there are further bequests in the wills of Stephen Galle (Hargham, 1485) and Thomas Smale, a rector of Larling (1494).Like the rest of the building (and most Norfolk churches) it is built of flint, with stone used only for dressings.

The west buttresses have some flush work decoration, including the insignia of the Virgin Mary. It is possible that the tower was not completed to the original designs as the buttresses end somewhat abruptly and the tower has a plain parapet instead of the normal battlements. The staircase turret on the north side leads to the belfry.

Larling Interior 2The vestry on the north side of the nave was built by the mother and sister of the then Rector, the Rev'd J.B. Atkinson, in 1889, as is recorded in a window. The cost was £150. The windows on the north side of the nave are 15th century insertions into an earlier wall. The chancel windows mainly have the 'Y' tracery characteristic of about 1300.

 

Exterior

 Larling Church in FieldThe west tower is in the 15th century 'Perpendicular' style. In 1473, Peter Benne, of Thetford left £1 "ad fabrica nova campanilis (i.e., the new tower) in ecclia de Lerling", and there are further bequests in the wills of Stephen Galle (Hargham, 1485) and Thomas Smale, a rector of Larling (1494). Like the rest of the building (and most Norfolk churches) it is built of flint, with stone used only for dressings. The west buttresses have some flush work decoration, including the insignia of the Virgin Mary. It is possible that the tower was not completed to the original designs as the buttresses end somewhat abruptly and the tower has a plain parapet instead of the normal battlements. The staircase turret on the north side leads to the belfry. The tower was restored in 1889 at a cost of £230. There areo three bells in the tower, with the following inscriptions:

 

» Treble: + Sancta. Maria. Ora. Pro. Nobis. (cast in Bury in the 15th century).
» Second: John Draper trade me 1617.
» Tenor: + Dana Repende Pia Rego Magelena Maria. (Cast in Norwich by Richard Brasyer - probably the younger Brasyer - who died m 1513.)

 The vestry on the north side of the nave was built by the mother and sister of the then Rector, the Rev'd J.B. Atkinson, in 1889, as is recorded in a window. The cost was £150.

 The windows on the north side of the nave are 15th century insertions into an earlier wall. The chancel windows mainly have the 'Y' tracery characteristic of about 1300, like the Priest's doorway on the south side, which has a simple chamfering in the stonework.

 The south porch was built in the 14th century and has a slightly uncommon type of window tracery: there is a simple decorative string-course running round it.

 The south aisle was rebuilt in 1898 (by the Rev'd and Mrs. Atkinson, as the inscription on the iron gates records). It shelters a magnificent Norman doorway, which is one of the finest in East Anglia. This has two orders of shrifts, and carved capitals and arch. Note the mass dial on the left, used to establish the times of Sunday High Mass (usually held at 9.00am, in mediaeval England) and other services. The door was obviously moved back when the church was built.

Interior

 Larling Interior 3Aisle and nave. The niche to the right of the door, just inside, is for a holy water stoup, so that people entering the church follow the custom of making the Sign of the Cross, as a reminder of the need for purification. The church was restored in 1867 (when it lost its thatched roofs) and in 1895, but it retains a large number of interesting features. The square font bowl is a simple 12th century Norman example. In the Middle ages there was am altar at the end of the aisle, roughly where the organ (which cost £100 in 1896) now stands. The altar was probably dedicated in honour of the Virgin Mary.

 The piscina (for washing the chalice) has 14th century carved heads. Beside it are the triple sedilia for three clergy, usually with small divisions between each seat. The small pedestal in the east wall would have supported once a statue of a saint, most likely Our Lady. The curious stairway at the and of the aisle lead to the roodloft above the screen. It enabled the sexton to change and light the candles which burned before the great crucifix known as the Rood. (There is a similar example at Guestwick.) The pews (1895), pulpit, tiled floors and roofs are all Victorian. None of the memorials are particularly noteworthy. They include a brass tablet on the north wall to the two Larling men killed in the Great War and the two tablets flanking the tower arch, to George John Cerjeant (1801) and William Woodley (1807), obviously by the same mason. The north doorway of the nave appears to date from about 1300, but was inserted into an earlier arch. Some mediaeval stained glass survives in the tower window - a collection of fragments.

Chancel

 The east window of the chancel has Victorian stained glass (1901), depicting Christ on the cross, flanked by Our Lady and St. John the Evangelist. It commemorates the Rev'd. John Balfour and Mrs. Jeesie Atkinson. There are two other memorials, to the Rev'd E. Eyre (1863 -"more than 26 years minister") and the Rev'd A. E, Prue, Rector 1905-24.

 The mediaeval altar stone was discovered in 1867 and was restored to its proper use. It is one of the largest stone altars in a parish church, measuring 8' by 3' 3", and has five rather elaborate consecration crosses (symbolizing the five wounds of Christ). The chancel sedilia are formed out of tile sill of a window. Next to the sedilia is an early 14th century double piscina. The reason for the use of two separate drains in a double piscina is that it enabled the priest to was his hands (at the offertory) and the chalice (after Communion) separately. The pillar forming the dividing shaft is a re-used 12th century piece. The stenciled decoration of the walls is typically Victorian but the coloured bosses at the east end of the chancel roof are a worthy attempt to provide a 'canopy of honour' to the high altar (mediaeval church roofs often had a painted canopy above an altar.


 

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