St. Peter’s Church, Clippesby is one of the oldest churches in the Norfolk Broads. It is Grade 11* listed and though small it is very beautiful with many ancient and interesting features that make for a rewarding visit. Clippesby is in the civil parish of Fleggburgh and in the ecclesiastical benefice of Martham together with Thurne and Repps-cum-Bastwick. It is off the B1152 road almost hidden by the lofty lime trees growing in the churchyard. The church is always open for people to visit and we hope you will enter to enjoy its peace.
The churchyard is a country churchyard, maintained in a traditional way that cherishes its wildlife, grasses and flowers.
The Outside of the Church
Built of Norfolk flint, examining its walls reveals something of its long history.
The Church, being of uniform width throughout, indicates its Saxon origins as also does the round West tower.
On the North side can be seen the remains of a Saxon window and also the Norman doorway with its zigzag-carved, stone surround.
One can easily detect where the walls were heightened in the 15th century, and in the 19th century Westmorland slates replaced the thatched roof.
In 1875 an octagonal belfry was added to the stump of the round Saxon tower.
A tiny mass dial is still clearly visible outside the South porch, a larger one having been eroded by winter weathers.
Inside the Church
The 14th century porch was restored in the 19th century and embodies the old Norman doorway with well-preserved zigzag stonework. Above the bird gates one can still make out some much older and more primitive carvings.
The inner Norman doorway has star patterned stonework and discreet graffiti of etched crosses made over the centuries to mark each occasion a bishop visited the church. The handsome door is 19th century with carved tracery.
A 19th century carved oak screen separates the tower from the nave.
The octagonal stone font has remains of painted decorations and carvings with eight cross-winged angels supporting the bowl.
By the North door is an early 13th century holy water stoup.
Decorated ends adorn the 18 pews in the nave and all pews are moveable.
Opposite the carved and panelled oak pulpit is a carved oak lectern.
There used to be a painted text around the chancel and other arches and wall paintings covering the chancel walls; these were plastered over in 1950 but we have uncovered small areas.
The Clippesby Rector responsible for the costly Victorian restoration was the Revd. Henry Muskett, who carved the ornate pew ends to the choir stalls that depict the four apostles. Henry also made and carved the bishop’s chair.
The piscina with carved stonework dates from the 13th century.
There are six stained glass windows.
Our patron saint holding a key and St. John holding a chalice containing a dragon are on a restored window in the chancel.
The memorial window by Margaret Rope, who was a famous East Anglian stained glass artist, is much admired and loved. It fronts our new benefice baptism leaflet and was prominently featured recently in a Glyndebourne opera production.
We have two important 16th century memorial brasses, one in the nave to Thomas Pallyng and his wife and one in the sanctuary to John Clippesby, his wife and family.
This has a flint wall on the South boundary and partial ones along the East and West boundaries, with a clipped hawthorn hedge atop the North bank.
The Williams memorial cross is beautifully carved from a single piece of English marble.
This peaceful, natural setting for a beautiful country church continues to be carefully managed in the same way as it always has been for centuries past and this is also in accordance with current best practice. Our mowing regime was set acting on advice from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and we have also had advisory visits from David Yates of the Norfolk County Council. The grass is cut 2 or 3 times each year giving due consideration to flowering and seeding times and the need to control coarser growing species. (use of scythes gave way a few years ago to a strimmer). The majestic lime trees on the West side – home to owls and bats – are pollarded from time to time. In early Spring swathes of snowdrops carpet the ground and then, in their turn, also primroses and other wildflowers; lichens, ferns and whispering grasses abound. It is untouched by sprays apart from a non-invasive weedkiller on the path. Clippesby’s churchyard is a real country churchyard, a tranquil, hallowed place.