Monday, 12 October 2015

Raymond Sheppard and Round Tower Churches - Haddiscoe

Haddiscoe Church from Beccles Road [65+ years ago!]

Close but impossible to replicate!

I am lucky to be able to visit other libraries (we Librarians love comparing notes!) and a couple of years ago I visited the Norwich Cathedral Library and just by chance saw a note which said four one day tours were being organised by Jack Sterry, around the "Round tower churches in Mid Norfolk, North Norfolk and Suffolk". It was the first time I heard the expression 'round tower churches'. I remember that Raymond Sheppard had drawn a few in the area and filed that away to do further research.

Haddiscoe Church from Loddon Road
Haddiscoe Church from Loddon Road

In August this year my wife and I took a holiday in Wroxham on the Norfolk Broads. On our way there we decided to do some exploring. Christine Sheppard, (Raymond Sheppard's daughter) had kindly shared some of her father's church paintings and having never heard of round tower churches, let alone seen one, I was very curious and thankfully so was my ever patient wife!

We travelled through Essex, Suffolk and across the border into Norfolk, and found the first Haddiscoe, St. Mary  The tower is 52 feet tall and appears to be a Norman tower done in a Saxon manner. The three 'string courses' are very rare in round towers and the stone apparently comes from Caen in France thus adding to the reason it's thought to be Norman. We arrived on a very hot day and walked around the graveyard and found it 'unkempt'. But we soon realised that this was in order to encourage wildlife.

Haddiscoe Church (south side porch)
Now I'm not a fanatic but I wanted to replicate Raymond Sheppard's positions when he drew and painted the churches he visited, but there's a problem. We think he drew these pictures in the early 1950s and that's <gulp> 60 years ago! Nature loves to take over places and man tries to subdue it. The two pictures above show my problem, but even allowing for movable topography I think Sheppard took some artistic license. Anyway, here goes....

The first drawing above is impossible to replicate today due to a lot of undergrowth, and I suspect the road that Sheppard used is too busy to try and the view is obscured. The second one shown above is a bit easier - but still not quite right.

Haddiscoe Church from the East
The nearest I could get to the east!

The last picture Christine Sheppard kindly shared was a pencil drawing of a window which I think I have captured here

Haddiscoe Church window sketch
Window with a visitor who didn't want to leave!

Outside Haddiscoe Church - window on left

In our next enthralling episode....Herringfleet

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