The Lantern Steeple

Posted in General Village Interest

If you are fortunate enough to receive the September edition of the "News" during the Flower Festival weekend, you will see there are trips to be had up the church tower!! The steps are lit now so it is not dark and for a small monetary donation, the door to the staircase will be unlocked and you can climb to the top of the tower for a spectacular view in every direction.

Normally the tower is out of bounds but for this weekend you can climb to the top.

On the floor at the top which is lead, there is some writing that says:

Rev E.H. Townsend, Vicar, A.R. Rackham, J.N. Ray ,Churchwardens, Lacey & Upcher, Architects, Norwich, Neil Bros, Builders, Elmham, J.T.Gibson, Plumber, Norwich 1911.

These were the people who were involved with the removal of the Lantern Steeple which sat on the top of the tower.

I am not sure why this was called a Lantern Steeple but just prior to 1911 it was found to be in such a serious state of repair that it had to be immediately taken down. The Vicar , the Rev.Townsend and the churchwardens agreed that it should be removed and the other names are the people who were actively involved in its removal. (A.R.Rackham was the village doctor, and the Neil Brothers were Elmham builders.)

Rev.Townsend kept a diary which is at the Records Office at County Hall and delving into it I found various references to this bit of our village and church history.

On 20th May 1911 he went up the church to see the Lantern and found it's date was 1824 he says, and the next day he went again to see what repairs were necessary but he doesn't say who went with him.
In August T.Neal and F.K.Willby began the task of taking down the Lantern. In October Mr Gibson, the plumber from Norwich came to strip the lead off the tower roof.... He took away the lead from the tower roof (about 2 tons) and also 21 cwt of lead from the cupola to.........

In January 1912 Messrs Neal finished the new roof on the church steeple - it now remains to be covered with lead by Messrs Gibson of Norwich.

In February Messrs Gibson, plumber of Norwich began to put the new lead on the church tower. This was finished later in the same month.
.........means I couldn't read Rev Townsends' writing!!

We have several lovely photographs of the church prior to 1911 with the Lantern Steeple on the top of the tower. If you know exactly what a Lantern Steeple was, please give me a ring and tell me.

Janet Woodhouse Tel.668525