St Andrew's Church Appeal
St Andrew's Church Appeal has been set up to help raise funds towards the restoration of the Church Tower and rethatching the roof.
Below is a brief history of the church and the reason that this appeal is being launched. St Andrew's became a Grade 11 listed building in September 1962, and in November 2022 was placed on the Churches at Risk Register.
St Andrew's History
St. Andrew’s is built on the site of an older church which is recorded in the Doomsday Book. Unfortunately the origional church was not named, but it dates the church as being built before 1086 when the Doomsday book was commissioned by William the Conqueror.
The entry shown below is from the Doomsday Book and shows that Stokesby was one of the larger settlements in the Flegg Area. Stokesby was given to William of Ecouis along with other areas by William1, in gratitude for his help with the invasion in 1066.
The present Church is believed to have been built some time after 1086. The tower is from the Early English period (1200-75) and the first Rector to be recorded was Thomas de Ormesby in 1283.
There are over 600 churches in Norfolk and it is said to be the largest number of churches in any county. There are approximately 53 thatched churches, Stokesby being one of them.
If you look up into the roof of the church from the inside, the thatch can be seen, this is unusual as thatched roofs are normally boarded out on the inside and the actual thatch cannot be seen. This may be a unique feature to this church.
The rear pews have the original ‘poppy heads’ on the 15th Century bench ends. A woman in a head dress kneels at a prie-dieu to say her prayers - if you look closely, you will see that her rosary is draped across the desk. There is a rugged cockatrice, a comical dragon, a very noble greyhound. and a lion with a shield with cross (believed to be the arms of the Berney family).
St Andrew’s has some of the finest brasses in Norfolk. The earliest shown here depicts Sir Edmund de Clere in a cumbrous helmet with raised visor and is dated 1488. His wife Elizabeth is with him in an elegant horned head dress.
A number of these brasses are displayed on the wall opposite the main entrance.
The interior of Stokesby’s medieval Church was originally decorated with extensive murals and these were discovered during alterations in 1858. Unfortunately workmen had already covered most of the wall in new plaster before anyone could stop them.
However a watercolour sketch was made of a section that had not been replastered, Below is a copy of the painting, reproduced here by kind permission of Norwich Castle Museum.
The mural represents “The Warnings of Gossips” and shows two animated women seated together with a figure to their left, who might possibly be praying and a demon on their right. The figures are female and daily mass was probably the only time in the day when womenfolk of the parish could meet.
It also appears that there were benches to sit on, whilst not uncommon in this part of the country at the time, it is still an early date.
St Andrew's Church Appeal.
The Church Tower is a prominent feature of the church and can be seen for many miles. The tower houses a bell with the engraving Edw.Tooke made me 1679. Sadly this bell has not been rung for many years.
As you approach the tower all seems well, but looks can be deceiving. Internally large gaps have appeared over the last few years between the tower and the main building. This has prompted a structural engineer's report which has highlighted the need for the tower to be placed out of bounds for use and the area outside being cordoned off. Scaffolding has been erected inside the tower to prevent the tower from collapsing. The work needed to repair the tower and make it safe has been quoted as being £500,000 pounds.
This is a massive amount of money and will require more than the monthly coffee mornings to raise the amount. Various grants are in the process of being applied for to carry out this work.
The two pictures above were taken from inside the vestry where the tower joins the main church building. These cracks are now so deep that daylight can be seen if you look into them. On the advice of a structural engineer the inside of the tower is now supported with scaffolding to prevent any further movement from the building, and the area outside has been cordoned off.
Externally the damage is not so obvious to the naked eye. These three pictures show some of the external damage, highlighted in the report, where the internal cracks have now reached the outer layer of the church. The middle picture shows where the flint is coming away from the surface near the ground, exposing the lime mortar, which is being damaged by water.
St Andrew's church is a historic building which we must not let fall into disrepair. A small group are actively seeking ways of raising funds to compliment the applications for various grants. Below is a guide as to how the fundraising is proceeding. There will soon be a QR code through which people can donate via their smart phone.
In the meantime if you would like to make a donation you can use the Gift Aid envelopes in the church and post them in the wall safe by the main doors.
St Andrew's Restoration Fund
Each red segment of the thermometer represents £1000 pounds raised.
As each additional £1000 is raised so the segment above will change to red.
The current amount raised is