A small Norfolk village church maybe, but study the wills of early 16th c. villagers, and Fritton church comes alive. On the very eve of the Reformation, the people were showing their commitment both to their community and to the Catholic church.

In 1502 Roger Brame left two marks (26s. 8d.) `to the heyning [heightening] of the walls’ while John Alvard (1506) and John Johnson (1510) made bequests towards a new roof. The marks of the earlier steep-pitched nave roof on the E wall of the tower can be seen (1). Come inside an inscription below a faded St Christopher on the north wall asks for prayers for the soul of John Alvard, and next to it is a St George (2), part of this campaign to upgrade the nave.

The font was also part of this rebuilding (3); in 1536 Margaret Sporle left five marks for a new font cover, the residue of her goods to be ‘bestowed in Bede of charitie and pitie for my sowle and all christen sowles:

In 1528 Stephen Browne left 6s. 8d. towards the painting and gilding of the saints on the roodscreen (4: the Latin Doctors Gregory and Ambrose), probably the work of a Norwich workshop — just look at those carved unicorns. Either money or time ran out, for the panel of SS Simon and Jude was never finished (5).

Fritton has never been more than a little village, but how its parishioners of 500 years ago cared for this building! ND