Photo Credit: jmc4 – Church Explorer
To visit St.Michael’s Church you need to make a detour of about 1/4 of a mile. It is well worth the effort. It stands on the edge of a small market square with a pub, a cafe, restaurant and shops. Market days are on Mondays and Fridays. St.Michael’s continues as the heart a bustling town . It has 13th century arches, a 15th century screen and many memorials, among them one to the memory of Humphrey Repton the architect and gardener, who is buried in the churchyard.
Battle of North Walsham 1381
The level path from Aylsham to North Walsham is a disused railway line. To the north, the t towers of Banningham (nearer Aylsham) and then Felmingham (nearer to North Walsham) can be seen on the skyline . From a position on the Aylsham side of North Walsham, North Walsham’s twin water towers are visible on the southern edge of the town. Beneath these towers is a stump of a marker cross delineating the northern boundary of a battle field. Here, at the Battle of North Walsham in 1381 the remnant of Norfolk’s Peasants Revolt was either slaughtered or put to flight. Their ringleader, a dyer from Felmingham, was captured, hung drawn and quartered. The commander of the victorious army? Henry de Spencer, the Fighting Bishop of Norwich.
Comentators have seen Julian of Norwich insistence on the courtesy of Christ in her 1395 Revelations of Divine Love and the blindness of the soldiers depicted in Despenser Retable in Norwich Cathedral as scarcely veiled critiques of the Bishop’s less than Christlike behaviour.
St.Nicholas Church, like St.Michael’s Aylsham, is the beating heart of a bustling market town and the site of a pre-Norman Conquest minster church. The manor of North Walsham formed part of King Cnut’s endowment when he founded Benedictine Abbey of St.Benet in 1022. The church was re-modeled and extended in the fourteenths and fifteenth centuries making it one of of the largest non-monastic churches in the country. The church contains the magnificent tomb of the supremely confident Sir William Paston who endowed the town’s famous Paston Grammar School (now a Sixth Form College) in 1606. It is enough to make one wonder how confident one would be in meeting one’s maker. Would it go easier at the Great Judgement at the end of time one had founded a school or a monastery?
A detour of a mile will bring one to the village that gave its name to Worstead Cloth. When the old hand looms were replaced by power, the manufacture of Worstead cloth moved to Yorkshire where water mills provided power. The wealth that wool brought can still be see in the gracious buildings and especially St.Mary’s Church The original fourteenth century church, had its roof raised and a clerestory windows added in the fifteenth century. Light floods through them to lift eyes and heart to heaven.