Local advertising

Church tour

The south porch has been rebuilt but has retained its old roof.  The main door is over 1000 years old.  As you enter the church and look to your left, you can see the remains of a painted consecration cross, which shows one of the points where the bishop of the day anointed the wall at the building’s consecration.

One of the first things you may notice here is the differing levels of floor, where is was raised during the Middle Ages and again by the Victorians during the 19th century reforms.  The lower levels of floor can still be seen.

The pews in the Nave have shaped ends known as “poppy-heads”.  The terms may come for the French word poupee, meaning doll.  Originally the nave (the people’s church) would have been empty, a wide-open space used by the parish in much the same way that we use the village hall today.  The church in medieval times would have been a smoky, smelly and dark space, with parts that were out of bounds to its congregation.

The windows display various forms from the Norman style up to the 15th century.  There is a certain amount of medieval glass in the south nave including the sacred monograms IHS for Christ, a crowned M for Mary, a mitred head and the two symbols of the Evangelists, a lion for Mark and an ox for Luke.  There is more old glass in the heads of the north window and an angel with the arms of the Calthorpe family in the chancel.  The east window is Victorian.

The wall paintings were the poor man’s bible.  They were first ordered to be placed in churches by Pope Gregory the Great in AD604.  There are numerous fragments within the church, the largest of which shows the ‘Living and the Dead’, a favourite subject, where rich young men meet skeletons.  There is a large St Christopher, patron saint of travelers, in the usual position opposite the main door of the church.  On the north wall there are five smaller pictures from the life of Christ and St John the Baptist, while on the south nave wall there is St Margaret.  There are Decalogue Boards printed with the Ten Commandments, which after the Reformation would have been placed in churches instead of wall paintings.

The rood screen has been given a Victorian top, but the dado, the bottom part, is medieval and painted with saints.  There would have been a rood beam above the screen with figures of Christ, the Virgin Mary and St John.  The figures would have been removed in the 16th century, but it is said that the beam survived until the 19th century.  At the top of the old stairway there is a small window which is a very rare feature.

In the nave there are two small brasses to the Spooner family and one in the sanctuary facing west which is a priest.

In the chancel, the “priest’s church” of the Middle Ages, there is a piscine at the eastern end of the south wall.  This is where the vessels of the Mass were washed.  Also at the eastern end of the south wall is a sedilia, formed by the lowering of the windowsill.  The sedilia was used as a seat by priests during Mass.

When Queen Elizabeth came to the throne she made Mathew Parker her Archbishop of Canterbury.  Parker was a local man from the parish of St Clement in Fyebridge in Norwich and had been Anne Boleyn’s chaplain.  She has requested that he looked after her daughter, Elizabeth, before Anne was put to death.  Mathew Parker was a staunch Protestant.  He ordered that the existing small chalices of the Mass be melted down and replaced with new communion cups. These would be large enough for the laity to participate and receive the wine.  The churchwardens of Seething complied with the order and acquired a new cup bearing the Norwich essay mark of the castle and lion.  Also inscribed was the date letter “C” for 1567-8 and “For the town of Sethen, 1568” with a matching paten.

There is a mystery here because the Norfolk parishes of Beighton and Swardeston also have communion cups bearing the name of Seething.  Dr Mary Fewster of Alpington who has made an exhaustive study of the Norwich Goldsmiths’ work, can give no explanation as to why several cups have been made with the Seething name.

The font is of the “seven sacraments” type and is one of only forty that still exist, thirty eight of which are in East Anglia.  Most of these fonts have been terribly mutilated by acts of iconoclasm either in the reign of Edward VI or during the Commonwealth years.  Seething’s survives in almost perfect condition, possibly because its carved panels were plastered over during the Reformation or the font was hidden and re-plastered later.  Only the devil has been cast out by being hacked away.  Even the Mass wafer remains untouched.  These panels represent the sacraments of the pre-Reformation church.  The carvings refer to Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony, Penance, Ordination, the Mass and the Extreme Unction.  The eighth panel shows the Baptism of Christ.  Against the stem are statuettes while on the foot are the signs of the Evangelists.  The font dates back to about 1480.