The 14th century church of St John the Evangelist originally consisted of a nave, chancel, vestry and north and south aisles, each with its own porch and doorway. The nave measured 88 feet by 53 feet with its roof supported by six octagonal pillars, topped by a clerestory of six windows each side. There was seating for 225. There was also a tall western tower, with a spire reaching 150 feet.
In 1877 the tower was struck by lightening and rebuilt in stone in 1879. On a fine, but windy morning of 28th April 1948 the tower suddenly collapsed, destroying the nave and south aisle. It is thought that the rebuilding work coupled with the weight of the six bells contributed to the collapse.
The rood screen was salvaged from the ruins and was reinstalled in East Dereham Church, and a wall was built across the west end of the chancel in its place to create a smaller, but still large, church from the former chancel. The pulpit and fine brass lectern were also salvaged and re-used in the new look church.
Here is a view of the former chancel, looking west towards the new west wall.
The north aisle survives, still roofed although without glass in its windows - it now appears to be the home for the wheelie bin!
Fragments of medieval glass have been re-used in the east and north east windows.
Here are the small pipe organ and font.
At the east end of the south aisle is the chantry chapel, or Bedingfield Chapel, which also survived the disaster. This chapel was founded in 1496. The chapel contains very rare terracotta screens which were made about 1530. Here is a view of the chapel looking west towards the large screen formerly separating it from the south aisle.
Here is a closer view of part of this amazing construction (west side).
Glass has been inserted in this screen between the chapel and the former chancel.
Here is a view of the now shattered nave from the west. The remaining north jamb of the former west door is visible, together with the north side of the clerestory and the remains of the south wall. The west windows of the former chancel (now the church) and the chantry chapel are also visible.
Finally here is a rather poor picture of the church as it appeared before the collapse, from a framed copy hanging in the church.
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