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Our Lady of Consolation, Lynford, Norfolk

(52°27′56″N, 1°7′15″E)
TM 121 899
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Norfolk
now Norfolk
  • Jill A Franklin
  • Jill A Franklin
  • Richard Halsey
11 Mar 2017

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Feature Sets

The Roman Catholic church of Our Lady of Consolation, designed by Henry Clutton, was built in 1877-8 for Yolande Lyne-Stephens (d.1894), a widowed Catholic heiress. Close to her home at Lynford Hall, it was effectively a chapel of ease for the nearest Catholic church some ten miles away in Thetford. The series of rectangular panels with low-relief Romanesque carving set into the plinths of the ten buttresses appears to have been incorporated during the construction of the 19thc building, rather than inserted later. The panels may have come from one of Thetford's dismantled earlier post-Conquest buildings. Three of them are carved with figures and the remainder with architectural motifs, one of which occurs frequently on Romanesque churches in the region. Aspects of the design and execution of the Lynford reliefs compare with sculpture of the late 11thc in Upper Normandy. The fourteen reset panels represent the only Romaneque sculpture at this site. They are numbered here in sequence, starting at the east end of the building and continuing anti-clockwise.


The identity of the building that was the source of the reused panels is unknown.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration


The closest stylistic comparison for the figural panels - on the carved voussoirs of the south transept chapel arch at Montivilliers in Normandy - is datable to the late-11thc, suggesting a comparable date for the Lynford sculpture. At both sites, the similarity of gestures and the technical crudeness of the figures, contrasting markedly with the more accomplished treatment of the beasts, point to a mutual connection, as does the use at both of two-strand stems and a distinctive fluted and scalloped folded leaf as a semi-circular space-filler, seen on several of the voussoirs at Montivilliers and here on Panels 1 and 10. The carving of figures and beasts on the tower and chancel arch capitals at Castor (Northamptonshire) is also comparable (Zarnecki 1951, figs 39 & 41). The trellis motif with beaded balls on five of the Lynford panels was widely used on Norfolk's Romanesque doorways, as at Castle Acre Priory, Clippesby, Framingham Earl, Great Dunham, Hales, Heckingham, Shingham and St Etheldreda's, Norwich.

Mrs Lyne Stephen's personal attachment to Thetford would indicate one of the towns's earlier Anglo-Norman monuments as the likely source of the reused panels.

CRSBI is indebted to Richard Halsey for information about these reset fragments, not noted in Pevsner or recorded in Historic England's listing.

The building is in the care of the Norfolk Churches Trust.


J. A. Franklin, 'The Romanesque Sculpted Arch at Montivilliers: Episodes from the Story of David', in Medieval Art, Architecture and Archaeology at Rouen, BAA Conference Transactions XII for 1986, ed Jenny Stratford, 1993, 36-45, plates III, IV.

  1. J. A. Franklin, ‘The Romanesque Sculpture of Norwich and Norfolk: The City and its Hinterland – Some Observations,’ in Norwich. Medieval and Early Modern Art, Architecture and Archaeology, BAA Conference Transactions XXXVIII, ed T. A. Heslop and H. E. Lunnon, 2015, 135 -161, 145, 147, 148, 153, 154, 157.

Historic England List Entry Number: 1077247

L. Musset, Normandie Romane : la Haute Normandie , La pierre-qui-vire 1975, vol. 2, 132-7, plates 57-62.

N. Pevsner and Bill Wilson, The Buildings of England, Norfolk: North-West and South, Harmondsworth 1962, 2nd edn 1999, rev. 2000, 2: 531.

J. Roberts, Glass: The Strange History of the Lyne Stephens Fortune, Chippenham 2003, 303-4.

G. Zarnecki, English Romanesque Sculpture 1066-1140, London 1951.