Of bishops, saints and toothache

This week’s outing was to North Elmham, (http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.12467) where you can see the ruins of a miniature Anglo-Saxon cathedral, dating back to the time when it was the site of East Anglia’s second See (“Helmham”), founded in the reign of King Ealdwulf (c.664-713) according to Bede. (Apologies to South Elmhamites, but I think the case for North Elmham is pretty strong…) That was a wooden structure though and what you can see now was the work of Bishop Herbert de Losinga soon after the Conquest, who rebuilt it in continental style, and Bishop Henry le Despenser in the fourteenth century, who turned it into a castle. This is what once of English Heritage’s excellent interpretation boards suggests it looked like in de Losinga’s time, and what it looks like now:

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Just next door is the parish church, also started by de Losinga but added to over the years. The whole interior is very good, but two details stood out: the late medieval painted saints on the rood screen (Saint Cecilia joins us below) and the gent with toothache in the porch. Well worth a visit!

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Map picture