POPPY-HEAD BENCH ENDS.
(Article 2 in the St. Mary's Church Loop)
The nave of Feltwell St. Mary's Church is seated throughout with late 15th century seats with poppyhead bench ends, finely carved. The County of Norfolk surpasses all other Counties, even Suffolk, in the number and sometimes the beauty of these pre-Reformation benches. They are found in districts, such as this district before the Fens were drained, where timber for making them could be conveyed by water from distant parts. The height and depth of these fine old benches at St. Mary's should especially be noticed because the size of them shows that people of the Tudor period, i.e., Henry VII to Elizabeth I, were definitely smaller than people of the present day. It is worth noticing also that the carved figures on the bench ends of these seats have been deliberately mutilated; the work, no doubt, of fanatics during the so-called Reformation of 1643, when untold damage was done to Churches; the figures appear to have been chopped through with a hatchet. Several of the brasses also on the floor of the Church, were ripped up and destroyed because of their inscriptions which were looked upon as popish; inscriptions such as "Pray for the soul of . . . " or "On whose soul may God have mercy."
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