St Michael’s, Coston, Norfolk

I must say I really love the Churches Conservation Trust app – it’s great you open it on your phone, it geo-locates you and very quickly you can find your nearest CCT church!

St Michael’s in Coston was one such find – on our meander home after rosebush-purchasing, we decided to try to find it and explore.

St Michael's, Coston

It’s a gem. Elegant thirteenth century interiors, including a fantastic rood stair, box pews, clear glass and a fifteenth century font make it a zen-space of a church.

St Michael's Coston, interior

You can see the font in the bottom right and in the top left the opening of the rood stair. I’d never seen one in a parish church before, so was both puzzled and excited. In that frame of mind I climbed up (but I don’t think people should as I am certain I knocked some plaster off by accident).

Up the Rood stair

Up the Rood stair

Looking out from the Rood

It certainly gave me a different sense of proportion and changed the scale of how I saw the church (however my knees went weak and I climbed down, hence the RUBBISH photo).

Whilst thinking about roods, rood screens and staircases I came across the V & A catalogue and spent far too long searching for rood-related objects. One of my favourites is this gorgeous drawing by Philip Mainwaring Johnstone of Freshwater church and it’s rood stair opening on the Isle of Wight.

Freshwater Church I. W. Easternmost Arches of Nave Arcade, Rood-loft Stair, Chancel Arch, etc.

The view from the pulpit gives a nice comparison and a great view of a blocked up doorway on the north aisle. I also appreciated the books left open by previous visitors.

Pulpit view

I like to think this is an original font bung! (Always my favourite thing to find in churches, but it looks more in keeping with the rest of the 18th century carving to inexpert me.)

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I’d also love to know more about this window in the chancel – it was set very low down and didn’t appear to link to anything else, so presumably was used from the outside? Tell me more Pevsner (who doesn’t mention it at all …)

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There’s two First World War memorials in the church – a traditional brass plaque to the three men of the village who died: Frederick Abel, Horace William Balls and Norman Francis Wace.

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Underneath a cross is mounted on the wall, which I believe may be the temporary cross erected for Norman Francis Wace’s burial and is now returned to his village. He died on 4 November 1918 – a week before Armistice and had served in the Rifle Brigade. A quick CWGC search tells us about his parents Richard and Louisa Wace of Coston Hall, and his grave is at Ghissignies British Cemetery.

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As we left this face seemed to sum up the mood of the church – restful with a tinge of sadness.

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We left the door as we found it – closed.

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However, make sure you take some time to look at the amazing lock on it.

Coston is just down the road from Runhall, but it’s not so easy to find – basically the entrance is a gap in the hedge next to the rectory (which is set back from the road). It’s open everyday in the summertime and once again I was totally grateful to the people who come and lock and unlock these places regularly. Thank you!

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