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CHURCH HISTORY

All Saints Church Salhouse  


In Norman times Salhouse was included in nearby Wroxham (or Vrocksha in the Domesday Survey of 1086) and in that Survey two churches are mentioned, having 33 acres of land and being worth 3 shillings. Later records show that All Saints’ Church (in Salhouse, Psallins, Sallus or Salehouse, as it was sometimes spelt) was at one time known as the ‘Chapel of Sallus”. Only the foundations remain of this chapel dating probably from Saxon times, the rest being largely 14th Century with Victorian refurbishment. The provenance for this claim of an older building lies in the discovery in 1839 of two stone coffin lids under the nave floor, the coffins subsequently being dated circa 13th Century, bearing the embellishment of an unknown wealthy merchant.

In 1167 the Rectory of Wroxham (with Salhouse) was appropiated to Carrow Priory, near Norwich, and the Proiress appointed a vicar to serve both churches. His name is unknown: existing records show the first vicar, William de Cokethorp, being appointed in 1320.

 ….The black death

By March 1349 the Bubonic Plague, the “Black Death”, had arrived from Europe and reached East Anglia. At nearby Acle a wall painting in the church records how “the brute beast plague raged hour by hour”. It is estimated that the first outbreak of 1349-50 carried off one in three of the population. In the Diocese of Norwich during the months of April and May 1350 seventyfour parsons had to be instituted to livings left vacant by the death of their incumbents. At Salhouse, was Simon de Aquora, appointed in 1350, in place of Thomas, son of Stephen of Shotesham, one of these?


The chapel had been enlarged over the years, including a tower that fell down in the early 15th Century. In 1416 John Holm was given six shillings and eight pence for a new tower and in 1511 Robert Tyllis gave a bequest of ten shillings “to emend the stepill” (mend the steeple, or tower). Another gift was made between 1514 and 1523 when Robert Elliot, Vicar of Wroxham, gave thirteen shillings and four pence for “the repair of the chapel”. The truncated tower, being offset from the nave, is a curious feature of the church. There is reason to believe that when it was rebuilt in the 15th Century it was planned to add another storey to the tower, as for the similar church in Wroxham, but that the parishioners ran out of money. The circular staircase in the tower continues above roof level and is blanked off, access to the roof being through a window. In addition it is believed that the intention was to extend the size of the church by throwing the nave roof across the width of the church, from the south wall to the north wall beyond the north aisle. This would have brought the tower back into a central position with regard to the nave, and brought the archway in the east wall of the tower back under the church roof. As the tower was not centred the arch remains partly within the church and partly without, the exterior piece being covered with timber boarding since time immemorial.

….The middle ages

The first mention of a service at Salhouse occurs on 10th June 1570 when Thomas Burton married Bridgett Gryme “in the Church of Salhouse belonging unto Wroxham”. In 1697 an Ecclesiastical Court enquired into the status of the church at Salhouse. For some time the parishioners had been obliged to attend services at Wroxham Church as their chapel was empty. The vicar, Ralph Dukker, had removed the furnishings and goods. The Court agreed that Salhouse was part of Wroxham, but services had always been held in both church and chapel. Thus Salhouse kept its independent place of worship. Certainly by 1714 it had its own churchwarden, for in that year the curate, Phillip Borrough, undertook “not to chuse a Church Warden for ye future in ye said Parish of Salehouse without ye Consent and Leave of ye Parishoners”.

Registers dating from 1561 and a Churchwarden’s Book from 1750 show that Salhouse had achieved a separate identity. However, All Saints’ Salhouse was to be linked to Wroxham until 1935 when the Vicar of Wroxham-with-Salhouse resigned Salhouse. By 1936, Salhouse had its own vicar, though for many years the Vicar of Wroxham-with-Salhouse lived in the Vicarage at what is now “The Lodge” on the road to Wroxham”. In 1942 the Rector of Rackheath became also the Vicar of Salhouse

….Restoration and details to look for

The church was greatly restored in 1881 and the roof was renewed, retaining its original design and said to be constructed from local Salhouse oaks. The north wall and porch were rebuilt at a cost of 2,000 pounds (1881 valuation). Outside the church at the north eastern corner is a railed enclosure containing the family vault of the Ward family, owners of the Salhouse Hall estate from 1712 to 1955.

The inside of the church consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle, vestry , tower vestry and south porch. The length of the church is about 32 yards, the breadth 7 yards and the open bench pews  accommodate some 120 persons, the first few rows having original carved poppy-heads. The altar is railed in, the chancel has an oak rood screen part of which is ancient, and the floor is paved with Neapolitan tiles which were laid in 1839. It was under the nave tiles that the two coffin lids, referred to above, were found, before being removed to the tower vestry in recent years for display. In the floor of the aisle can be seen the iron vents of the rudimentary heating system, whereby red hot embers from a stove in the base of the tower were placed in the three cavities. Fixed to the pulpit is a restored hourglass in its ancient holder, ornamented with lily-shaped flowers. Many of the panels of the pulpit are of considerable age. Hanging in the chancel on the south side is a unique Sacring bell, without inscription but dating from the time of Queen Mary (1553-54). Also hanging in the chancel are three funeral hatchments for members of the Ward family from 1799, 1839 and 1843, who lived in nearby Salhouse Hall. Also of note on the south side of the chancel is a misericord with a carved head, said to depict “the Green Man” of fable. On the south wall of the nave is an interesting palimpsest brass in a hinged wooden frame, one side bearing the inscription “Hic jacet Heric Tyllis” (Here lies Henrty Tyllis) of circa 1450 - on the reverse an inscription to a former vicar, Richard Gardener, circa 1480.


Several of the windows bear stained glass, among them memorials to Richard and Elizabeth Ward, Brenda Ward, John R Campling and Kate and Stanley Wiley.

The east window shows “Christ the King in Glory” by Alexander Booker, 1899. This window was vandalised in November 1993 and variations in colour may be detected in the lower half. Traces of medieval glass may be seen in the east window behind the pipe organ. This instrument itself is over one hundred years old, being built around 1896.

The Early English arcade between the nave and the north aisle has octagonal pillars mostly with foliated capitals. One bears carved human heads, probably defaced during the Commonwealth, though one head depicting the Devil remains unharmed.

In the tower are two bells, one dated 1481 and brought from Oxburgh, near Downham Market, in 1485, the other of unknown date but bearing the inscription “belonging to the Church of Salhouse broken and mended in 1630”.