History of St Michael's

The parish church of Sutton has origins clouded in the mists of time. but certainly from the time our Anglo-Saxon ancestors were converted to Christianity. It survived the Viking invasions and it is recorded that during the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) Cerdic the Dane (Edric of Laxfield) who held the Great Lordship of Happisburgh was Lord of the Manor, and that there was a Church in Sutton endowed with 10 acres. At that time the King and the Earl of Norfolk had the living. After the Norman Conquest, Cerdic was deprived and the Lordship passed to Richard Bigot who was the become Earl of Norfolk. The present building is of flint and stone and the older parts date from the late 12th and early 13th Centuries. Dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels, the church consists of a Chancel, Nave, South Aisle, South Porch and West Tower. Restoration work was carried out in 1848. In recent years a band of dedicated volunteers has worked to restore the fabric, redecorate the interior and rearrange the furnishings: this has greatly improved the general appearance of this active parish church.  


  The Nave: The nave is dominated by a two-tier pulpit, a beautiful rustic example of Jacobean woodwork dating from the 17th century. The poppy heads are of great variety and interest, and are much older than the pews they adorn. The intricate carving is of a high standard and some, at least, dates from the Perpendicular period (15th century). Other examples of carved woodwork can be found in the choir stalls and the stairway to the pulpit. The organ, re-sited in 1985 from the East end to the South Aisle, was built by Corp and Sons in 1869, and was purchased from the Vicar of Stalham in 1918. It was restored and returned by Richard Bower in 1985. The bookcase was given in memory of V. Philip Betts.


The Pulpit   Pew end   Pew end


The Vestry: The vestry is formed by the base of the tower and was restored in 1986. It contains f the church dated 1823 and a wooden chest marked “1713 Sutton M.P.”. Martin Peascod was elected Churchwarden in 1713. 

  Western Tower: The embattled western tower is in the Early English style and is 60ft high. The belfry contains three bells. The older two carry the mark of Richard Brayser, a bell maker circa 1450. The newest carries the inscription “Thomas Newman made me 1743. John Barker C.W.”.
The Tower and Porch    


Chancel: Moving to the East we find the chancel, separated from the nave by a low screen . This incorporates some 15th century bench ends and some interesting carving. The East window was installed in 1891. The altar rails are supported on Victorian metalwork and were installed in 1848. The lectern commemorates Captain L. L. Atherton, a pioneer aeronaut who died in 1956. The oak credence table was given in memory of Group Captain D. R. Stubbs D.S.O., D.F.C., O.B.E., a battle of Britain pilot. The parochial cross and candlesticks were made at Stalham High School, and a pupil of North Walsham High School for Girls executed the enamelwork on the cross.  
    The East Window


The South Aisle: The South Aisle contains the remains of a stairway leading to the rood loft, and the easternmost window in the south wall has the sill lowered to serve as a sedilia (a seat for the priest). In the western jamb of the window is an Angle Piscina – unfortunately filled with plaster. In the east wall is a niche or tabernacle where the sacrament could have been held in reservation. These furnishings indicate that an altar stood here in ancient times. In 1985 an altar table, given in memory of Albert Thomas Rose, warden in the 1950’s, and made at Stalham High School, was dedicated. In 1987 the altar rail was added. Note should be taken of the beautiful iron supports, exact copies of those at the High Altar. To make all this possible the organ was removed and placed in the nave. In the wall adjacent to the doorway is a stoup for holy water and on the wall nearby the creed and the ten commandments are painted on large boards. A churchwardens account dated 1717 refers to the hooks for hanging them. Their original home was probably on the east wall of the chancel, either side of the altar. The octagonal font, which was moved from the nave in 1982, is similar to the one in Felbrigg Church. It is of the decorated period (1280-1377), and is adorned with tracery.  

The South Aisle


The South Porch: The South porch has an upper room which was intact in 1823 but had been allowed to fall into utter decay. In 1984 volunteer workmen opened up the blocked stairway and reinstated the floor. The lancet window in the west wall, which was blocked, has been restored and reglazed. 

Church Plate: The silver communion cup is inscribed “The Toynship of Sowton 1567”. The silver paten is unadorned but is believed to be of the same date. The silver flagon is engraved “Deo Sacrum Ex Dedicatione Robert I Lord, Clerici, 1727” and has the price of £10/7/6 marked on the base. The silver wafer box is modern and was given in memory of Basil Hitchin. The silver chalice and paten, in everyday use with the wafer box, were given in memory of Albert Phelps, Rector 1912-34    
    The chalice   The chalice and flask


The Parish Registers: The registers of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials are complete from 1555. They are now kept in the Central Library, Norwich. 

Memorial Tablets: In the chancel, two wall tablets commemorate John Homfray, priest, 1842 and his wife Hetty 1843; and Stella Shorter, 1947 and her husband Richard Guy Shorter, 1964. In the South aisle a wall tablet commemorates Hubert Frederick Tatam, 1974 in whose memory the aisle roof was restored. On the floors of the church are a number of interesting engraved and decorated commemorative slabs.

The Churchyard: The granite war memorial was erected in 1931 and stands in honour of those who died in the two wars 1914-18 and 1939-45. There are some interesting tombstones and the ancient scratch sundial, which was originally set in the church wall, may be seen in the church.  

The Scratch Sundial


 Rectors of Sutton

1300 John de Haverhill 1640 Edward Green
1304 Jeff de Brundeleis 1671 Robert Lord
1312 Martin de Fakenham 1727 Beresford Baker
1343 Edmund de Clynton 1729 John Gardener
1346 William de Draicote 1731 Thomas Williams
1354 Robert Filcot 1796 Ellis Burrows
1361 William Honey and John Russell 1804 James Foulkes
1377 Roger Cubulf 1839 John Homfray
1391 John Clerk 1843 James Duncan Macfarlane
1391 Henry Atte Milne 1847 Bernard Moore
1408 Edmund Berry 1862 George Bond
1431 William Jenkinson 1881 George Holloway
1436 Godfrey Burgh and William Dalton 1896 William Craig
1439 John Ceton 1912 Albert Phelps
1443 William Lovel 1934 Christopher Holland
1454 Robert King 1947 John Richard Law
1489 Robert Dengayn 1956 Richard Frank
1504 John Heydon 1960 John Christopher Parsons
1520 Thomas Percival 1966 David John Pitcher
1530 George Maxwell 1975 Robin Jervis Hewetson
1533 Jeff Kingsman 1979 James Arthur Roberts
1538 John Saunders 1984 Jeffery Donald Morris Smith
1559 John Ryvers 1990 Stephen Weston
1586 John Jones 2000 Anthony Billett
1617 Thomas Heath 2002 David Anderson
1625 Bertram Doyly 2007 Simon Lawrence


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