All Saints, Waterden
The tiny church of All Saints Waterden is extremely isolated even in the very rural context of Norfolk churches. The village of Waterden disappeared in late mediaeval times leaving the building alone in the fields accompanied only by its Rectory (now the Old Rectory) and Waterden Farm a quarter of a mile distant.
Visitors to Waterden Church remark on the palpable sense of spirituality and calm that pervades the building. They also wonder at the extraordinary set of circumstances that have allowed this remote church to continue as a place of regular Christian worship for hundreds of years as, from the west end of the church, they look north west across the fields to the site of the lost village.
The building is almost certainly of Anglo-Saxon origin, with Norman elements and is, as the tower stump and lost south aisle indicate, the remains of a larger building. The north and south doorways are Norman and two small double splayed windows are described in Pevsner as “decidedly Anglo-Saxon”.
All Saints is an Anglican place of worship within the Diocese of Norwich and is a chapel of ease in the Parish of South Creake. (A chapel of ease is an historical term applied to a church building, other than the parish church, built within the bounds of a parish for the attendance of those who cannot reach the parish church conveniently.)
In the last year South Creake PCC, which has the care of this remarkable church, has successfully applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to plan major repairs to the exterior, which will hopefully lead to larger grants from other organisations to enable repairs to start in early 2019. A Friends of All Saints Waterden (FoSAW) has been set up to look after the building and the churchyard. They hosted the 2017 popular Christmas Eve service of lessons and carols and have already made strides in maintaining the churchyard in good order. Visit http://www.southcreake.org/foasw for more information.
Standard opening times: The church is always open. Eight services are held each year. In 2018 Evening Prayer will be said at 6 pm on Sundays 15 April, 20 May, 17 June, 15 July, 19 August, and 16 September; Patronal Festival Holy Communion (CW) 12 noon 1 November; Service of Lessons and Carols 4 pm Christmas Eve (very popular – arrive early to get into the church). For a large pilgrim group, it might be possible with ample notice to arrange a Christian service.
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/All-Saints-Waterden-214265188944484/
Waterden Lane, Waterden, Walsingham, Norfolk, NR22 6AT, United Kingdom
Grid reference TF88479 35804 Co-ordinates 52.886720, 0.799758
Enter All Saints Church Waterden into Google Maps for directions.
By car - Waterden Lane runs East to West between the B1355 Fakenham–Burnham Market road and the B1105 Fakenham-Wells road. Approached from either direction the entrance to the church is exactly 1 mile down the lane. The church is not easily visible from the lane – if you come to the Old Rectory you’re nearly there or have just overshot. Parking is on the verge – please be aware that the lane is used by heavy tractors and must not be obstructed.
By public transport - Nearest rail service is King’s Lynn (24 miles) and nearest bus service (infrequent) is to South Creake (1.7 miles).
On foot: As by car
One of the charms of Waterden is that it has no facilities - no running water, no electricity, nothing. It is approached from Waterden Lane by means of a 100 yard grass track so visitors need to wear suitable footwear. Unfortunately this means that disabled access is not good.
There are no toilet facilities at the church or nearby.
For refreshments there is a pub in South Creake (1.7 miles) and shops and pubs in Walsingham (3.9 miles), and there are plenty of B&B and holiday rental properties in the area.
Nigel Kenyon Jones