St Peter & St Paul Church Mautby
Mentioned in the Domesday book, as a village with a mill and 7 salt works, which shows that the sea then reached much further inland.
In 1199, the Lordship passed from the Earl of Norfolk to the de Mauteby family, who held it until the reign of James 1. One of the de Mauteby’s was Margaret, she was born and lived at Mautby Hall, a building that is sadly no longer in existence. Marrying John Paston in 1440, she unwittingly put Mautby on the map by writing many letters to her husband and sons. Known collectively as the Paston Letters and are a fine example of the earliest examples of English letter writing. Lodged in the British Museum, they detail life during the Wars of the Roses. Indeed, two of her sons defended Caister Castle, which had been bequeathed to the family by Sir John Falstaff, Margarets Uncle. (his name being acquired by a certain William Shakespeare). When Margaret died in 1484 she was buried at Mautby in the South Aisle, demolished, (not something that would happen today,) probably in the 19th c. Many visitors from across the world come to the church to see where she grew up, either out of curiosity or family ties.
Near the altar a memorial stone to Edward Boys BD is written in Latin, was Rector here from 1640 to 1667, nephew of the Dean of Canterbury and a chaplain to Charles 1. A volume of his sermons published by his friends in 1672 is held at Norwich Cathedral Library. Norfolk was mainly on the side of Parliament. So, you wonder, how a man that was so outspokenly Royalist, escaped being imprisoned. Following a fire at the Rectory in 1651 when 2000 books along with the Parish Registers were destroyed, you could speculate was this an accident or arson.
Over the centuries Mautby has been improved, including in 2000 electricity being installed and in 2015 the addition of a kitchen and a disabled toilet. The building itself is mainly Early English 1200-1275 and the doors are good examples of this. The original church was probably older. The first Rector recorded was Thomas de Hykeling who was presented at court by Sir Robert de Mauteby in 1307.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR CHURCH
The font is of the decorated period 1300-75 has a pyramid croketted cover. With quatrefoils alternating with shields around the bowl, these were probably painted at one time.
The base of the 46 feet high tower is early Norman / Saxon and probably formed part of an older Saxon building. A lithograph by Robert Berney Ladbrooke in the 1850’s shows that there was then a short pyramid roof on top of the tower, this was removed by the Victorians and replaced by a battlement parapet of brick faced with flints to match the tower. There is only one bell inscribed “Robs Batalie gaf me in the name of ye Trenite”. This was provided under the will of Sir Robert Batalie of Acle in 1491.
The bell is 36 ¼ in diameter, however records have shown that in 1522 there were two bells. The stair turret was added in the 15c. Above the tower arch at first floor level is a blocked door, this was the original access to that floor before the staircase was built. The arch into the tower is pointed which indicates that the tower was built in 13c. In 2016 electric lights were installed to make it safer.
The windows on the north side of the nave it is said, are among the oldest in Norfolk, i.e. early 14 c and their quality has been compared to those at York Minister.
The South sanctuary window is quite unique and along with two Eucharistic scenes, one showing St. Clare holding a monstrance in which the blessed Sacrament is displayed for adoration and the other is of Thomas Aquinas a 13c cleric. This window also has the motto “The blood of Christ the Christian Life” This window is dedicated to the memory of Revd J. Norris Dredge who was the last Rector to hold Mautby as his sole charge. (1896-1933).
The other chancel window is also related to the Dredge family. Following the destruction of the East window in WW2, the figures of St. Peter and St. Paul were purchased from a Norwich church.
The small door up the steps next to the altar rail was the priests door, who was responsible for the upkeep of the Chancel, the parish had to pay for the upkeep of the rest of the church. Now the parish congregation have to pay for it all! As of July 2016 this cost is roughly £45 a day!
The north doorway now leads into the new kitchen / toilet extension, is also 13c with head stops either side supporting the hood mould.
The entrance porch is Victorian, and was probably built when the south nave wall was in-filled. The work was overseen by Arthur Hewitt of Gt. Yarmouth who designed the Empire and Windmill buildings in Gt. Yarmouth.
The choir stalls and the screen contain original work from the 15c and there are primitive marks made by the medieval carpenters, numbering the panels of the choir stalls.
The screen topped by a Rood Group showing Christ crucified, is flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John, these were added in 1906.
The hole in the screen is called a hagioscope or squint (peephole to observe).
The Knight Templar tomb near the lectern is believed to be Sir Walter de Mauteby who died in 1248.
His feet rest on a dog indicating that he died at home, the dog meant loyalty and led you to the next world.
Originally it was thought that he was defaced by Puritan Zealots who also removed many brasses. But a drawing /etching of this effigy dated 1839 by John Sell Cotman of the Norwich School actually shows only partial defacement, so maybe this tomb was damaged when the south aisle was removed.
Once there was a hole in the tomb and children who sat in the front pew dared one another to put their hands in and feel the bones!
In “Sepulchral Monuments of the County of Norfolk” by Blomefield, the effigy is described as wearing a haubert (a piece of armour which covered only the neck and shoulders), and chausses (armour for the legs). This leg armour was from the ankle to the knees. He also had a hood of mail under which was probably worn a flat skull cap of plate. Topping this, the haubert (a sleeveless surcoat) reached to the knees. His shield was of the heater shape (it looked like an iron) and covered most of his body. His legs were crossed, as was the fashion for these effigies.
In the Chancel, there is a double piscine where the Mass vessels were washed, and a triple sedilla under matched cusped ogee arches with animal heads, all used by the priest, deacon and sub deacon whilst waiting to do their part in the Mass. Another piscina next to the lectern shows that there must have been another altar at one time. The Chancel itself was last restored in 1906 and it is probable that the tiled floor and the altar date from this time also.
The Nave floor has ledger stones for the family members of the Howlett and Womack family. Their story is now detailed in a booklet which also has the family tree and details of two other families with Mautby connections, the Lucas Family and the Fellowes family.
The squared base below the tower holds the vestry and this was re-boarded in 2011.
In the church you will find maps for cycle/walks around the area, as well as a short guide of the church, a booklet about the Pastons and the families of the Womacks, Lucas and Fellowes.
Mautby is the largest village in this area by acre. Its inhabitants are mainly farmers , associated industries and private residents.
Children from the area go to school in either Filby, Fleggburgh or Ormesby St.Margaret.
The church however, continues to have a healthy, happy relationship with the community who support us at our events.