North Walsham & District Community Archive

Knapton 1875 - 1975

"North East Norfolk Country Churchman Centenery Magazine 1875-1975"

KNAPTON 1875-1975

Eighteen seventy-five. Knapton was then, as now, a small village of some three hundred souls, straggling about the road to Mundesley. Although the latter village had not yet been "discovered" as a seaside resort, the parish meeting of Knapton, under the guidance of the Rector and Churchwardens, had recently applied to the County authority to have the road adopted as a "Main" road. There was then, of course, no Parish Council. Knapton had its own Rector, the Reverend William Barnes, living in the village; the living was not united with Paston, as now.

Other changes were taking place, as the nineteenth century moved in into its last quarter. Not long before, the Parish Meeting had decided finally to abolish the office of Parish Constable, there being apparently little call for his services. They must have been a law-abiding lot in those days! A school had also been started, run by the Church in what is now the Parish Room, which had been given by a generous parishioner. The fees were threepence per week!

But the main cause for concern, at least to the Rector and Wardens, was the state of the Church. John Sell Cotman's weathercock might survey the landscape proudly from the top of his tower, but beneath his feet all was far from well. The walls were sound enough, but damp, and the floor so much so that the old high pews were rotting away. Worst of all, the roof above the famous angels was in a very bad condition; daylight showed through in several places, and the rain came in everywhere.
Within a very few years, this concern was to lead to a commission for extensive restoration being given to the celebrated architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott. The work was duly carried out by the North Walsham firm of Cornish and Gaymer, renowned throughout the district for the excellence of their church work.

The Church was reopened in 1886, and the names of the Architect, Builders and Churchwardens are recorded for all to see by being carved on some of the new timbers in the roof. Those who now have the care of the Church owe a deep debt of gratitude to their forebears, whose energy and skill saved this magnificent roof for posterity to enjoy.