Heritage 17 All Saints Church

No 17                         All Saints Church

Visitors to the village of Shotesham have been welcomed for the centuries by the sight of All Saints standing proudly at the top of Church Hill.  They said that long ago, folk could boat to Norwich, down the mile long common, to the River Tas, when our beck was broader and deeper.  All this may have been before the Saxon King Ethelred II ; rebuilt about 1200 AD before the nNormans came. by Sir Robert de Vaux and finally about 1550 AD after being partly destroyed by Henry III.

The present church, older in origin than the proud Cathedral of Norwich, exists today, having withstood fire and sword down the ages, including a solitary V-2 rocket during World War Two.  Built of flint in the perpendicular style, All Saints consists of chancel, nave, south porch and an embattled western tower containing five bells.  The nave has perpendicular windows- quite apart from a surprising open spiral staircase.  The chancel windows are circa 1300 AD.  There are tablets to the Neech, Bransby and Cooper families.


Font octagonal, with four lions against stem, four lions an d demi-figures of angels against the bowl.  The angels have shields with the emblem of Trinity and the instruments of Passion and three crowns and chalices.

Emblems on the font The Trinity, the Holy Sacrament, the Passion, the Arms of Ely to which diocese Shotesham originally belonged.

Banner staff locker, for keeping the processional banners, in the tower.

12th century tiles inside the chancel door.

Illuminated list of Parish priests and patrons, by Doreen Hedges of Shotesham

Saxon Holy Water stoup by the north door.

Pulpit of circa 1895-9.

Reredos of 1899 by Milburn of York.

Recess over the pulpit which originally housed a perpetual light with a reflector to throw light onto the face of Christ on the rood screen cross at night  There is such a recess outside the south door of Romsey Abbey, near Winchester.  Near it can be seen the original Saxon Crucifix carved in stone.

Dog or Laudian altar rails ordered by the Archbishop Laud (Canon 1640) to keep farmers dogs’from the sanctuary.

Chancel screen by Howard of Norwich in 1866.  This is the third screen on this site and is a replica of the original from the 17th century.

Window opposite the main door replaced an ancient door in 1899.  The unusual glazing in the windows is copied from old glass in Milan Cathedral.


 North Wall (from West end)

Between north door and first window, upper part of a figure of a man wearing a hat, upturned in front, with a red feather, about 20”x 15”.  Appears to be in oils, it is possible that this may be part of a “morality”as these often occur in a north wall.  A possible one is “Death and the Gallant”which occurs in many places at this period early 16th century – and is represented by a skeleton offering a flower to a young man who is dressed in the height of fashion.  It is most unlikely, as it has been suggested, to be a portrait of Edward II (First Prince of Wales c 1300 AD).

An angel, about the same size,clad in a red garment and wearing a fillet around the head surmounted by a cross.  This forms part of an earlier series, painted in earth colours and not well executed.  In notes taken in 1929, this is described as part of a larger subject with “angels etc”, so probably the rest has been whitewashed over in decorating the church.

Beyond the next two windows to the east, a recess at the east end of the wall surrounded by scroll work decoration in yellow and the same decoration extends to the east wall at the north corner, with yellow vine scroll and grey grapes.

South Wall (East end)

 Between the two easternmost windows, the upper part remains of what must have been a fine St George and the Dragon.  The Saint brandishes his sword above his head and carries a shield with a white cross on a red ground, and there is also part of the border to the picture.  All these features correspond to those fine paintings of St George at Fritton St Catherine, which is nearby.  The border is the same, composed of quatrefoils, probably of the late 15th century.

Between the two westernmost windows two paintings remain.  The lower one represents a naked figure lying prostrate and covered with flame which represents the martyrdom of St Lawrence.  The head is missing and the hands are clasped and tied with rope.  Above and to the right is a female with a well drawn head, in the same style as the man dressed in tudor style with a gable head-dress and a green dress having sleeves slashed with white.  She appears to be kneeling in prayer.  There is a large mural tablet in the middle of this subject and to the left is the trace of another figure in the same style.  it is possible that both are donors of a central painting of the figure of possibly St Michael, crowned with a cross.  Mutilated by the insertion of the mural tablet, this is thought by those who know to be of importance in itself.

Much of the renovation work has been carried out on the paintings in 2001, under the supervision of the Courtauld Institute of London and U.E.A..  When the funds permit it is planned to expose further paintings over the chancel arch.


Amongst our church wall tablets in All Saints is one recording the 18th Century virtues of  “Four Angel Sisters”Margaretta, Charlotte Marie, Anne Marie and Marianne.  They all died before reaching the age of 23 and yet between them they managed to exhibit to the world “An early display of intelligence in acquiring knowledge, fortitude in supporting pain, a solid understanding and elevated spirit, a cultivated mind, a pattern of christian excellence, an amiable disposition, brilliance in wit, penetrating in sense.

                             The Graves

 Five graves in the churchyard of All Saints, just below the east window.

1)  Sacred to the memory of Benjamin Gooch, a surgeon who departed this life February 11th 1776 aged 68 years.  Also of Elizabeth his wife who departed this life November 21st 1784 aged 74 years.  Gooch was the foremost physician of his time and he befriended William Fellowes, a local man, and they combined their skills and built up a cottage hospital complex in Shotesham, where Gooch acquired much of his surgical skills and developed a reputation, which spread locally, nationally and internationally- he also became an internationally renowned author.  Through the success of this hospital, the first Norfolk and Norwich Hospital was founded in Norwich.  His practice at Shotesham was carried on by his son-in-law.  His daughterSarah, married her fathers assistant Dr. D’Urban and their youngest son , baptised Benjamin after his grandfather, went on to become a soldier and diplomat.  Port Natal was renamed after him;it became Durban, after his surname.

2)     Sacred to the memory of Shute D’Urban, son of John D’Urban MD, who departed this life 11th January 1776, aged 15 years.  Also Dorothea D’Urban who departed this life November 28th 1785 aged 13 years.

3)     Sacred to the memory of John D’Urban who departed this life October 16th 1782 aged 61 years.

4)     Sacred to the memory of Elizabeth, wife of John D’Urban, late of this parish who died January 1st 1810 aged 74 years.

5)     Another interesting grave just beyond the vestry is the burial place of one Mark Brown who died September 27th 1836 aged 84 years.  He was one of the crew of the “Royal George”when she sank off Spithead on August 29th 1782.  A charity, part of which was left to keep his grave in order, still exists.

Notice outside the church

  Unusual Holy Water stoup in the porch used by the priest for those  coming to the “Occasional Offices”

Knotless door of oak brought from the Baltic forests in the early 12th century for Ely Cathedral.  Poor country churches were allowed to use the leftovers.

Modern bas- relief of St Botolph, patron saint of agricultural workers, by John Ellis of Hempnall in 1960.

Stone vulture- the bird with the keenest eye sight of all gods creatures, watching for the Second Coming of Christ.  Under his feet are carved the words ‘Veni, Veni Emmanuel’

‘Sanctus’or ‘sacred bell’brought from the convent at Sebastapol in 1899 to replace the ancient bell lost at the reformation.

‘Marks’or ‘votive crosses’made by those who left the village to take part in the Crusades.

Rare iron spiral staircase to ringing chamber.

There are five old bells

1 The treble bell was recast in 1615 and in 1901.  The words ‘Gloria in excelsis’are inscribed on it and the shield of the Norwich City arms, togetherwith the initials A.B.W. Alice Brand and William her son who took over the foundry business from John Brand in 1582 and moved it from St Stephens to All Saints Green.

2 Dated 1622

3 Has the same shields as No 1 .but bears the inscription ‘caeli Regina mihi semper sit medecina‘  (May the Queen of heaven always be medicine for me).

4 Used for funerals has the same shields as No 1, but bears the inscription ‘Fac Margarite nobis Hec munera Leta’(Margaret regard these services of death for us.

5 Has the same shields as No. 1.

In the year 1550 there were probably only 4 bells, weighing 5, 6. 7, and 91/2 cwt. The Puritans either stole or destroyed these.  There is a tale that our present bells were originally in the larger tower of St Mary’s which still has the ancient, larger bell frame which fits better than the small frame of All Saints.