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St Peter and St Paul, Shernbourne, Norfolk

(52°51′42″N, 0°32′35″E)
TF 713 324
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Norfolk
now Norfolk
  • Jill A Franklin
  • Jill A Franklin

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Feature Sets

Of the previous building on the site, the nave alone had survived by 1848, at which time it was considered very ancient (Lewis, 1848). The present church was built in 1898 at the expense of King Edward VII. Substantially a late-19thc structure incorporating 13thc elements, it has a single S nave aisle and contains no Romanesque carving apart from the font, one of four in north-west Norfolk long seen as forming a stylistically related group. Arguably among the finest in the country as a whole, and certainly in the county, the Shernborne font is, in Pevsner's memorable phrase, 'a barbaric but mighty Norman piece.'


Before the Norman Conquest, Shernborne, in Docking hundred, was held by Stigand, Anglo-Saxon archbishop of Canterbury. At the time of the Domesday Survey, the tenant-in-chief was Bishop Odo of Bayeux. With 64 households, the settlement of Shernborne was very large relative to others in Domesday Book.





The other three fonts in Norfolk that are considered to constitute a stylistic group with Shernbourne are at Toftrees, Sculthorpe and South Wootton. In Bond's view, they were 'unsurpassed in Europe ... the work of a great, unknown, original genius.' The compass-drawn knotwork motif on the E face occurs widely in Romanesque sculpture, in mainland Europe as well as the British Isles. Other examples in Norfolk are on the fonts at Toftrees and Warham, All Saints. Elsewhere, it can be seen on the font now in the church of St John the Baptist in Stone, Buckinghamshire. The version depicted on the Shernbourne font is particularly accomplished.

The present church was built in 1898 by Norwich architect and Diocesan Surveyor H. J. Green with Sir Reginald Blomfield as consultant.


http://opendomesday.org/place/TF7132/shernborne/ Accessed 12/05/18

Domesday Book: A Complete Translation, eds A. Williams and G.H. Martin, Harmondsworth 1992/2002, 1076, 1093, 1157, 1175, 1184.

F. Bond, Fonts and Font Covers, London, New York and Toronto, 1908, 46, 144, 151, 153, 155, 183, 191.

H. J. Dukinfield Astley, Memorials of Old Norfolk. London, 1908, 224-25.

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, British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions vol.38 2015, 135-161, 137 and n. 10.

Historic England Listed Building: 1153045

S. Lewis, ed, A Topographical History of England, vol. 4, London, 1848, 77.

N. Pevsner and B. Wilson, The Buildings of England, Norfolk: North-West and South, Harmondsworth, 1962, 2nd edn 1999, rev. 2000, 2: 63, 644.

Victoria History of the Counties of England. Norfolk. Vol. 2, London, 1906, 562.