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Church of the Holy Trinity
Church. 1856 by John Henry Hakewell for the Revd. Charles St. Denys Moxon, the first Vicar. Extended 1954 to the designs of John P. Chaplin of Norwich. 1856 chancel of knapped flint with ashlar dressings, the extension is largely of re-used ashlar and knapped flint from the Church of St. Michael-at-Thorn in Norwich which was bombed during the Second World War. Plain tile roofs.
The original building was designed and built as a chancel, and yet a complete place of worship, with provision for the addition of a nave at a later date. The chancel arch was constructed and filled with blocking which could be easily removed. The extension and completion of the church took place in 1954 with an ingenious design of a nave almost square in plan overall, divided into nave and aisles by a pair of very large opposing two-centred arches flanked by small, pedestrian sized, arches forming the arcades with the south aisle becoming a side chapel, dedicated to St. Michael (in recognition of the destroyed Norwich church), and the north aisle being enclosed to form the vestry with the organ loft over. The whole extension is covered with a single transverse roof joined to the extended roof of the chancel, the new roof descending down towards the ground at the sides.
EXTERIOR: the chancel is in 'Middle Pointed' Gothic style divided into three bays by buttresses with set-offs. East end has angle buttresses and three-light east window with Geometric style bar tracery. Panel with a recessed trefoil beneath the window. North side has threetwo-light plate-traceried windows with central trilobe and south side has two, all under relieving arches of white brick alternating with knapped flint. Priest's door in south side has inscription 'My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer'. Moulded string course extends around doorway to form a hood mould. Nave has pair of entrances in the re-entrant angles between the chancel and nave. Arts and Crafts style boarded doors with small square lights with leaded glazing. The entire extension has plinths decorated with re-used flushwork designs from St. Michael-at-Thorn. The north gable-end is largely of brick flanked by slightly projecting sections of flint. The brickwork incorporates a re-used cusped lancet above and, lighting the vestry, two two-light rectangular windows beneath segmental relieving arches. West facade of brick with one central gabled opening, slightly projecting, a re-used two-light panel-traceried window beneath a three-centred arch. South and principal gable-end is of knapped flint with two re-used panel traceried windows slightly recessed, the recesses arched over with brick projecting segmental arches of several orders. The gable has a massive crucifix in bronze. The roof is surmounted by a tall louvred bell-cote with a pyramidal roof.
INTERIOR: the chancel has an arch-braced roof of three bays with braces onto wall posts in the form of colonnettes. Slightly raised easternmost bay is preceded by a painted suspended rood carved by a Ukrainian former prisoner of war. Sanctuary also marked by the rafters of the eastern bay being gold-coloured with stencilled decoration. Fine reredos with a coloured marble cross flanked by elaborate glazed tiles with Lamb of God in a quatrefoil design. Inscribed memorial stone below. Further coloured tiles to east wall up to dado height. Curtained tabernacle to north and piscina to south. C20 Stations of the Cross. Windows have diamond quarries with painted decorative designs with contrasting brightly coloured borders. The chancel arch has been left unplastered showing the weathering of the west wall exposed for nearly a century.
In the nave tall brick two-centred arches divide the space into nave and aisles. The south aisle is a chapel dedicated to St. Michael with the altar made out of the re-used stone of the former bell-cote, the pinnacle bases of St. Michael-at-Thorn and the Y tracery from the ruined church at Pudding Norton. The reredos was painted on the old noticeboard of the Norwich church by the architect and given by him. The north aisle element is partly enclosed to form the vestry but the exposure of the dividing arch and the open organ loft in the upper part enables it to be read still. Entrance lobbies correspond to the eastern small arches which may be read as part of an irregular pair of arcades. In conjunction with the western small arches it enables the whole design to be read as having aisles on all four sides and thus centrally planned. Exposed roof structure with purlins and rafters.
HISTORY: this church was built at the behest of Fr. Moxon, the curate of nearby Fakenham, who became a priest after graduating from Cambridge with a First in law in 1850. He was enthusiastic in the cause of education and in bettering the condition of the working-man. He lived at The Grove, Hempton, and was appointed the first Vicar at the church's completion in 1856. Hempton had had a Priory of Austin Canons in the Middle Ages as well as a separate parish church, so he was refounding an ancient foundation (and the newpaper report of the opening services specifically referred to this) and the church was mostly paid for by him and his friends, but there was a grant of £80 from the Incorporated Church Building Society, whose consulting architect became the architect of this church. From Moxon's writings it is clear that he wished to produce a church following the tenets of the Oxford Movement.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: this church is an important small rural example of a foundation emerging directly from the Oxford Movement, the ideals of which have been maintained. The original element survives very little altered with surviving reredos, patterned windows, stencilling to the sanctuary ceiling etc. It was designed to be completed later and Chaplin's completion of the Victorian chancel is an original solution to the need for extra accommodation which pays tribute to the traditional basilican plan of nave and aisles divided by arcades in an unusual yet fitting design which is infuenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and possibly by Eric Gill's church at Gorleston-on-Sea. The extension is sensitive and historically significant for it carefully complements the scale and design of the original and yet reflects the difficulties of the post-war period, with its scarcity of building materials, by re-using those salvaged from a bombed church yet respecting them by their careful re-use, as well as other re-used materials. That the Victorian church was retained unaltered and so sensitively augmented is unusual and a significant testament to this later period, when contemporary design was often in favour for church building.
Peter FitzJohn, The Story of Hempton, 1956.
Pevsner and Wilson, The Buildings of England, Norfolk 2: North-West and South, 1999, p.395.