Preface | Quick Quide | Northwold Enters Written History | The Ely Connection | Northwold in Domesday
Northwold’s Greatest Son – A Benedictine Monk | Bishop Hugh’s Early English Church | From Early English to Decorated
Early Rectors, the Black Death & a Wall Painting | The Easter Sepulchre | Who Was John Sterlynge (or Starling or Stalyng)?
How St. Andrew’s Acquired Its Tower | The Tudor Period | Northwold Under The Stuarts and Cromwell
Georgian St. Andrew’s | Modern Times – From Charles Norman Onwards | A Brief Note on Sources

The painting depicts a hawk perched on the wrist of a hunter.

he name of Hugh’s first nominee as Rector of
Northwold has not survived, but when Hugh and
Henry III were both dead and Henry’s son Edward I (1272-1307) was on the throne, Ely sent Walter de Stow to be Rector. That was in 1290. Ralph de Pyltone succeeded him in 1314, and he lived on into the reign of Edward III, a time of great prosperity for Norfolk. Edward III ruled for 50 years (1327-1377). Bernard de Sautre became Rector in 1336.

Norfolk was prosperous under Edward III because of its wool, with Lynn as one of the most important centres of the export trade. But it was also during Edward III’s reign that the bubonic plague reached this country – in 1348-49. It is estimated that the plague, known as the Black Death, killed between a third and a half of the population of England. Norwich alone lost 60,000. Perhaps these grisly fact help to account for a faded painting on the wall of the north aisle, relic of a time when the people were for the most part illiterate and received much of their religious instruction in pictures. The painting illustrates the popular mediaeval tale of the Three Kings who went out hunting

and came face to face with Three Dead Kings. You can still just make out the hawk on the wrist of one of the hunters, and the leg of one of the skeletons. If we could see the caption the dead would be saying to the living: “As you are, so were we. As we are, you will be.”

A correspondent in the Netherlands, Mr. Fred Kloppenborg, has provided us with copies of several learned articles about the theme of this 14th-century painting, with photographs of specimens in other churches. Ours is not the only one to have faded over the years. The articles make no mention of Northwold’s, and that may be because it did not come to light until the Galleries in the north and south aisles were removed some 50 years ago. The articles show that such paintings were not merely reminders of death but also illustrated sermons about the sin of Pride.


If the records are as accurate as they should be the plague did not touch Bernard de Sautre, who lasted as Rector from 1336 until 1397. John Sandon became Rector in 1397, but stayed for only a year. Robert de Wetheringsette succeeded
him in 1398 and stayed 14 years. It is worth noticing that at this period surnames are settling down into their modern form. Sandon is our first Rector to do without the use of “de” followed by the place from which he came. There are places called Sandon in at least three counties, including Essex. Wetheringsett is in Suffolk.