St Michael and All Angels, Barton Turf

‘Therefore with Angels and | Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious name, evermore praising Thee…’ Familiar words, every time Holy Eucharist is offered. Nowhere can bring them to mind like Barton Turf, for when its new roodscreen was painted around 143(M0, it received the finest representation of the Nine Orders of Angels you will meet anywhere.

Like earlier theologians, Aquinas spoke of the Nine Orders in three hierarchies – Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones; Dominions, Virtues and Powers; Principalities, Archangels and Angels. All are here portrayed: Powers, scourging a chained devil (monstrous, but not M.R. James material); the six-winged Seraphim with his censer, reminding us of Isaiah’s vision; the armoured Archangel, holding his sword; the Cherubim, whose wings and feathered body are covered in eyes, as in Rev. 4.

What gave the artist his vision we do not know, nor why he chose St Apollonia (holding pincers and tooth aloft), St Sitha (complete with her keys) and tower-wielding St Barbara to complete the twelve panels of the screen. They remind us that angels crop up at key moments in the life of Our Lord, from the Annunciation through the Agony in the Garden right to the empty Tomb, and will be the highlight of your visit to this lonely, lovely, Broadland church.

Read 2 Kings 6.16: ‘Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.’

Pray that our eyes may be opened that we may see, like Elisha’s companion; that God may keep his angels watching over us to support us; and that one day our angel will come to fetch us home to the Father in Heaven.

Map reference TG 343218

Simon Cotton