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Edingthorpe lies three miles north-east of North Walsham.

Even when you've lived in Norfolk a long time and you think you know the place well - it can still surprise you. Edingthorpe Church is one of these delightful surprises. You turn off at the duck pond in the centre of the village, drive along a narrow, muddy lane and after about a quarter of a mile you find the church located on the crest of the hill - surrounded by a belt of pine trees. On the Easter weekend when I visited, I also found the graveyard full of daffodils.

All Saints, Edingthorpe

All Saints Church, Edingthorpe

Siegfried Sasoon

The war poet Siegfried Sassoon visited the church when he was a child on holiday in Norfolk. The location obviously made an impression on him for, later in life, when he came to write his autobiography The Old Century and Seven More Years (1938), he remembers the timelessness of the place:

'It had a very special dignity and simplicity, standing there on its low hill above the harvest fields, as though it were the faithful servant of the life around it.

All churches are alike in the eyes of our Maker, it now seemed to be saying; it evokes in me a sense of local England and the centuries behind it, - the harvests it has seen and the pathos of those humble folk who had toiled and died and had been "of this parish".

Sassoon used to stay at the Old Rectory each summer with his parents and his two bothers Michael and Hamo. On his return to Edingthorpe in 1937 he also remarked upon the village pond, but in less picturesque terms:  'There was the black stagnant pond with a few ducks on it - longer and narrower than it had been in my rememberings... It had always been an unprepossessing, unfishable pond.'

Edingthorpe Duck Pond

Edingthorpe Duck Pond

The rural tranquillity of Edingthorpe must have been a marked contrast to the horrors that he witnessed in the trenches during WW1.

Descriptions of Edingthorpe also appear in The Flower-Show Match and Other Pieces (1941).

The former poet laureate - Andrew Motion - mentions Edingthorpe in one of the poems in Laurels and Donkeys. However, he employs poetic licence and sets Edingthorpe in Sassoon's native county of Kent. The poem also features the lych gate which was built after the Great War to commemorate the death of the rector's son who died while serving with the 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment 9th Foot: 'Siegfried clambers down, without the others noticing, and leans his leather elbows on the lych gate. The carved gold lettering says it was built when the war ended in memory of a lance-corporal whose father was rector here.'


Sassoon's Grave

More photographs of Edingthorpe




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