The chancel contains a number of interesting features.
There are three recesses in the western wall and at the back there is a blocked up doorway where steps used to lead up to ground level. This area now lies under the vestry. It was originally used as a charnel house, but from 1749 to 1795 it became a crypt for the family of one of the rectors, Robert Ewin (see Brasses & Memorials). After this it was used as a vestry until the current one was built in 1879.
The east end of the chancel is built over a crypt. The ground falls away to the east, so the builders supported the east end on a vaulted crypt.It is no longer possible to enter the crypt, but one can see into it through a little window.
Brasses and Memorials:
The church does not contain any ancient brasses, the oldest being a fifteenth century one asking us in Latin to pray for the soul of John Bone.
Perhaps the most interesting memorials are two in the chancel to members of the Le Neve family. Amazingly, this family provided rectors for All Saints more or less continuously from 1592 to 1742. The succession was only broken twice; once during the Commonwealth period (1649-1660) when Francis Le Neve was ejected from the living because of his royalist sympathies, and again from 1680-1711, when William Jegon was the rector (but even he was appointed by a member of the Le Neve family).
There are memorials to members of the Ewin family behind the altar. Thomas Ewin was rector from 1744 to 1799 and it was he who used the crypt for his family
Sadly, All Saints’ Church lost all of its ancient stained glass long ago. The last recorded remains were those seen by the antiquary “Honest Tom” Martin during a visit that he made to the church on Christmas Day 1721, but these to have now disappeared.
However, the church is fortunate in having three modern Replacements in the chancel.
In about 1936 a new south window was inserted in memory of Canon Andrew Hunter (d.1914) and his wife Agnes (d.1925). It shows St Andrew with his fishing net, flanked by St Agnes and St Margaret.
In 1945 a striking new east window, shown here, was inserted. In its five main lights are medallions of stained glass showing the coats of arms of local families that have featured in the history of the village - such as the Morley, Parker, Bedingfield and Lombe families - together with the arms of relevant institutions - such as Caius College, Cambridge, and the see of Norwich. Also shown is the badge of the R.A.F.
A booklet is available that describes this window in more detail.
On the north side there is a window with a fine modern design by Glenn Carter, who has also designed windows for a number of churches in Lincolnshire. This window was given by the Officers and Airmen of RAF Swanton Morley to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Station in 1990.
However, two panels from the screen were saved, and these are now built into the fronts of the two reading desks in the chancel.
It was still there in 1878 and we even have a description of it, but it was finally taken out when the choir stalls were built in 1902. You can still see the slots in the chancel arch which show where it was.
Rood Screen (Remains of):
Like every other medieval church, All Saints would have had a rood screen across the chancel arch. Above the rood screen would have been hung the great rood, which was a large crucifix with a figure of the Virgin Mary on one side and that of St John the Evangelist on the other. When Edward VI came to the throne in 1547 there were some ten thousand roods in English churches, but within three years they had all gone; not a single one survived.
What did survive for a while were the rood screens and the rood lofts above them, which were used by the choir and the musicians. However, in the reign of Elizabeth I the view was taken that church music had become too elaborate and there was a move to restore singing by the congregation. At Swanton Morley, as in most churches, the rood loft was taken down and a gallery built at the back of the church to house the choir and musicians. Only the bottom part of the rood screen remained.
There is also a pair of reading desks the front panels of Which are made from panels from the old rood screen.
In the choir stalls there is a pair of ancient stalls with carved gilt lions on their armrests.
The one highlighted here depicts a swan and a tun (a little barrel). This rebus, or pictorial play on words, can be found elsewhere in the church.
It has a hammer beam roof and each of the seven brackets on either side is supported by carved wooden corbels. They have not been executed with great skill, but they are amusing.
Page Updated: 26/07/10
Features of All Saints' Church Swanton Morley
Features of the Chancel
All Saints' Church