HOLY TRINITY ~ WEST RUNTON
Holy Trinity benefits from having its own Church Hall a few hundred yards away in the village allowing for a full social life in the Church. It is also available to the wider community and can be hired for an hourly fee.
During the summer months, July to September, our organist arranges a series of Organ Recitals by well known local musicians which occur weekly at lunchtime on Wednesdays. An active Walsingham Cell has a programme of monthly meetings in church. Please contact the Churchwardens for more information.
The church sits on a rise above the coast road and is a typical long flint and stone building of the 12th Century. The south aisle has stepped two-light 15th Century windows, the chancel two very big Perpendicular windows. The two-light west window is also 14th Century. The north aisle with its Y-shaped tracery windows may be earlier. The tower was begun in the 13th Century and finished in the 14th and although not as tall as some in the county it rises prominently in view on the road from Cromer. The parapet has four small pinnacles and bell openings with Y tracery on a circular shaft. There is one bell of 1715 with the name Thomas Newman on it.
The War Memorial is unusually situated by the road in an angle of the wall of the churchyard embankment. It is a handsome flint and stone construction with the appropriate and rather moving inscription:
"THEY WERE A WALL UNTO US BOTH BY NIGHT AND DAY"
The attractive Victorian lychgate has been moved back from the busy main road and has the carved inscription "O enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise ..... be thankful unto Him".
The calvary in the churchyard is a memorial to Felix Hackett Matthews, for 45 years Rector of the Parish, who died in 1964. The figure is a fibreglass replacement for the original which was vandalised in the 1970s.
On the south aisle window-corbels are some carved heads, now quite eroded. They depict, from west to east, a lady, a knight, animals, a queen and a king. Also, under the gable of the south aisle, are two grotesques, a man's head and a man pulling his mouth wide open.
The old porch has a blocked niche above the entrance. On the east buttress are the remains of a "mass-clock" with the metal base of the gnomon still embedded in the stone. The Victorian door has some fine floriated ironwork, and on each side a carved head, one a bishop, one a queen.
The interior, which was extensively restored in 1854 and 1886, is wide and light with a mixture of old and new pamment flooring in terracotta and ochre. The restorations replaced most of the window traceries and the roofs. There are two aisles with four-bay arcades separated by octagonal piers with double-chamfered arches. Just by the door is an old stone of the 17th Century set sideways with very worn lettering, found there in 1963. There is another outside the porch.
The octagonal font is 14th Century with small ogee-headed panels. The cover, a memorial to Kay Connell who died in 1964, was designed by Cecil Upcher.
In the chancel there are carved sedilia and a decorated six-petal piscine retaining its recess for the sacred vessels. The church plate contains a medieval paten.
In the choir, some old poppyhead carvings have been grafted onto the Victorian pews of 1886. Though rather battered, one can make out a medieval lady, a merchant, various seedheads, and a monstrous face with its tongue out. Poppyhead is not a reference to flowers, but supposed to be from a nautical term puppis or popeys = poop, the raised deck on the stern of a ship. The Victorian carved pews and chancel rail are quite restrained. There are attractive iron hinges on the altar rail.
There are fragments of old glass in the south choir tracery. The five-light east window was designed by Edward Frampton, and was inserted in 1896. It shows the Ascension of our Lord, with vigorous drawing and strong composition. His also are the south chancel windows of St. George and St. Cecilia, after 1896, and the south aisle window of the Resurrection, 1904, which is rather dark. Some Art & Crafts influence is seen in his window at the east end of the south aisle, 1911, where St. Francis preaches to the birds.
In the north aisle are St. Hilary and St. Stephen, 1938, St. Elizabeth with the child John the Baptist, and our Lady, 1954, by G. Maile of London. The easternmost window of this aisle is by Harry Stammers, 1959, in a simple "modern" style typical of its date. It depicts people in various historical costumes, and is signed with his symbol of a ship's wheel and an "S". The west windows of the aisles were reglazed in more modern times. The figures of two apostles, St. Peter and St. John, 1850s, were taken from the tower window in 1963 and inserted here in 1989. They are by J. Grant of Costessey. The roundels show a pelican and the Agnus Dei. Two other roundels, the Trinity and the Star of David, were lost during the reglazing.
The first organ was installed here in 1865. Built by Mark Noble, it was transferred to Aylmerton in 1907. The second organ, by Norman & Beard, was larger (and therefore better!). It went to Thornington in Essex in 1923. A third organ was then built by William Middleton of Norwich. The present organ was built in 1959 by Williamson and Hyatt of Trunch. At that time it cost £2,300. There is a total of 441 pipes. In 2000 a new electronic console was installed but the sound still comes from the original pipes, set high on the west wall.
PARISHIONERS BURIED IN THE GRAVEYARD
Charles William Christmas Abbs and Stanley Phoenix Abbs — We recently had an enquiry from Penny Parsons about the graves of Charles Abbs (the footballer) and Stanley Abbs (grandfather of Gary Lineker, and the subject of Gary’s documentary “My Grandad’s War”). Penny has kindly provided us with the following information about Charles and Stanley so that we might share it with you.
Charles was born in East Runton, on 25th December 1887 and in the 1911 census (the first census giving specific addresses) was recorded as living with his parents (Robert and Louisa), 8 of his 9 brothers and sisters, and a boarder, at Flint House, Cromer Road East Runton.
He played football for Norfolk, including a match against Norwich City on 9th November 1911, and was awarded his county “colours” in 1912/13. He also played for Cromer before joining Norwich City on 13th August 1913. He signed for Norwich City as a professional (a forward) on 22nd August 1914 and was recorded at the time as being 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 10 stone 9 lbs. After leaving Norwich City he resumed playing for Cromer and played for Sheringham.
On 18th January 1915 Charles enlisted in the army at Kingsway, London and joined the 17th (Service) Battalion (1st Football), Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment , Private, Service Number F/289.
On 27th April 1915 he married Alice Kirby at Tasburgh.
The Weekly Dispatch (London) of 17th June 1917 reported that he had been wounded and was a prisoner of war at Cassel in Germany. He remained a prisoner of war for 2 years.
On 31st March 1920 he was discharged on demobilization.
He became a fishmonger at West Runton, Norfolk, served on the Parish Council, and became chairman of Runton Football Club. In the latter stages of his life his home was at 1 Victoria Terrace, East Runton.
He died on 1st September 1956 at Cromer and District Hospital leaving a widow and 3 daughters. He is buried at Holy Trinity Church, West Runton, though he has no headstone.
Stanley was born on 22nd May 1916, and his birth was registered in Erpingham, Norfolk. His father, Charles, was 28 and his mother, Louisa, was 32. Stanley had a brother and a sister. He married Muriel Elizabeth Eggleton in July 1934 and the marriage was also registered in Erpingham. They had three children in 11 years.
Stanley was the Grandfather of the footballer and presenter, Gary Lineker. Gary made a documentary, following in Stanley’s footsteps, and discovered how Stanley (a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps) served in the Mediterranean theatre of war. He was involved in the Allied invasion of continental Italy, disembarking from a ship straight into the war zone in the first wave of landings in the town of Salerno in 1943. Stanley’s unit, who were unarmed and so unable to defend themselves, treated 1,839 casualties in the middle of a combat zone. Rome was captured on 4th June 1944, and the Italian campaign cost the Allies 313,000 casualties, but was overshadowed by the D-Day landings which took place two days later. Despite the fact he and his fellow soldiers also faced great danger, they were branded by some as “D-Day dodgers” as it was suggested that anyone not in Normandy was “dodging” the main fight.
Stanley died in December 1984 in Oadby, Leicestershire, at the age of 68 but is buried in the church yard of Holy Trinity Church, West Runton.