Church of SS Peter & Paul, Salle

The tall, slender 15th c. tower of Salle church can be seen for miles across deepest Norfolk; it serves a tiny village and stands across the road from the cricket ground. The nave and tower were begun around 1400 and share common features; approach the tower through the lychgate, push open the big 15th c. door, and pass under two large stone angels swinging their thuribles. You have to circumnavigate the font, which bears the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church and is topped by its original towering medieval cover, before becoming aware of the vastness of the clerestoried nave, with two aisles and transepts and an equally immense chancel of c.1440 stretching into the distance.

The much abused term cathedral-like is justified at Salle. The 15th c. gave the interior fine furnishings; not just the font and cover, but high quality stained glass and brasses, whilst the choir has a complete set of stalls and misericords. Above us is the original early 15th c. roof. The pulpit was perhaps in place for the priest to proclaim the victory at Agincourt. Succeeding centuries supplied 17th c. altar rails, and desks added to the pulpit transforming it into a three-decker. The interior is a pleasing ensemble, with woodwork mellowed and textured silver by the passage of time.

In the opinion of many good judges (and this writer) Salle is the finest 15th c. church in East Anglia. A visit is spiritually refreshing; and within easy range of Walsingham. You may well be on your own. Sit down, commune with God in silence, the only noise the quiet insistent tick of the clock high in the tower.

Did you spot the early 20th c. monument on the chancel north wall to a Rector, Charles Earle Marsh, his wife Catherine, and their third son? Its invocation Jesu Mercy invites us to complete the missing half of the couplet. Remember those who minister to the countryside, and those faithful but isolated laity of our integrity.

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Simon Cotton