The Interior of the Queen of the Marshlands

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Close to where we live in the Fens, is Walpole St Peter’s Church in Norfolk, this beautiful church is merely a fenland village parish church, but its beauty has so stunned visitors, that it has been called Queen of the Marshlands and Cathedral of the Fens.  Quoting from the church booklet, many experts believe that this is one of the finest churches in England.  It is impressive in its size and symmetry, unusually light and peaceful within, steeped in history and replete with rare and beautiful features.  I totally agree with every word the booklet says, the minute you step through the door you start smiling, even long suffering husband came and had a look at this one, without me badgering him.


A church has been here at least since 1021, of that church nothing remains above ground level.  The present tower was built in 1300, but a sea flood in 1337 destroyed everything else of the existing church.  Re-building might have started almost after the flood but in 1348 the Black Death intervened. That must have been horrendous time for the local population, first a terrible flood, followed by a plague that devastated the population, with whole villages being wiped out.

Once the plague had run its course, the local landowners grew immensely rich thanks to the suitability of the land for rearing sheep.  The proximity of ports such as Kings Lynn and close access to the market of East Anglia, at the time the most densely populated region of the UK, all helped to make the region very rich.  They showed their appreciation to the Lord by building a mighty church and embellishing it opulently.  This area has some of the most wonderful churches just for this very reason….. sheep.


I have posted previously about the rood screen and font, but really the crowing glory of this church is the chancel which is pure Perpendicular.  What is special about the church, is that it developed in only a few stages, stating with the old tower, then adding what is now the nave and finally the chancel – means that the completed effect is perfectly symmetrical.  Many old churches have been added to in many stages and have lost their symmetry in the process, so it is very pleasing to see one that in a sense has perfect symmetry.



The high alter is a fully fifteen steps higher than the floor of the nave, thanks to the Bolt Hole under it (this will be revealed in a post on the exterior)  The stalls have been restored, but still contain much 15th century work especially the carvings, many of which were restored by a Belgian refugee during the first world war.


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The massive brass chandelier dates from 1701 and is probably Dutch.  Each candle hole and candle holder bore a number so that when the chandelier was cleaned each candle holder could be replaced in its own hole.

I am very lucky that this beautiful church is so local to me and every time I visit it, I see something different.   Next time I visit, I want to find some of the 30 different masonry marks, that are dotted around the building.

I will post on the exterior of the St Peter’s Church, plus a few interesting features, in a short while.




4 Replies to “The Interior of the Queen of the Marshlands”

  1. What a beautiful church, Lynne! You are lucky to have this so close. I love all your photos – could only ‘like’ a few in the gallery for some reason (WordPress playing up). Looking forward to hearing more about it!

    1. Thank you Jo, it is a beautiful church to visit, even though its large, its so friendly and its well looked after, just a joy to visit and its open every single day. I have had problems with photos not showing, I think only to me, but last night was the first time that I could put on more than one photo. Hopefully its sorted itself out now 🙂

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