t is not too fanciful to imagine that Hugh took a
personal interest in the building of the new St.
Andrew’s. This would help to explain the quality of the workmanship in what Nikolaus Pevsner call the “beautiful arcade”
. By this he means the row of piers and arches on each side of the nave. Their Early English pillars are quatrefoil in section, and stiff-leaf capitals alternate with plain ones. Here we have the present church’s earliest surviving architecture. The author of the standard work on East Anglian churches says that the capitals and bases of the arcades are second only in interest to those of West Walton, a building which Pevsner calls “one of the most sumptuous Early English parish churches – not only of Norfolk.”
A more recent evaluation of Northwold’s church appears in “England’s Thousand Best Churches” by Simon Jenkins. He says that Northwold is a fine guardian of the frontier between the Breckland and the Fens; he too makes special mention of the arcade and (see p.10) the Easter Sepulchre. The author of the present guide, who saw Rheims Cathedral for the first time in the spring of 2000,
was moved to contemplate the unity of Christendom in the early Middle Ages by the simple fact that Northwold’s little church and the vast masterpiece at Rheims were being built at the same time and with the same purpose, ad maiorem gloriam Dei (to the greater glory of God).
Early English pillar with stiff-leaf capital.
The arcade, west view.
The arcade, east view.