St Helen

This delightful 12th century church is home to a magnificent 5 order Norman arched doorway and an internationally recognised 850 year old 'viking' wooden door.

About this church

The south west doorway is considered to be one of the finest in England, consisting of five orders, one within the other, each arch supported by nook shafts having ornamental capitals.

The south west door itself (no longer functional but hanging inside the church) has been nationally famous for years. Its age and history were researched by Messrs PV Addyman and Ian H Goodall in 1975 and the results published in Archaeologia Vol CVI in 1979. The study confirmed that the door is at least coeval with the initial church building and there is some evidence that it may have been used elsewhere in the 10th century. Over the centuries, in constant use, the door suffered the vagaries of the weather, as well as from the long recognised practice of nailing public notices to the church door. Repairs were carried out from time to time. As the last century drew to a close, it became necessary to make choices about the door's future: whereas skilled preservation offered further years of functional existence, conservation presented a static but ultimately longer term solution. Choosing the latter option, the door was removed to London in 1990, where the necessary conservation work was carried out by the firm of Plowden & Smith. The Norman door is a monumental treasure enjoyed by many visitors from all over the world. Its original ironwork includes almost complete C hinges and depictions of an interlocked cross, a ship, a pair of figures, a tree, a horned figure and a single figure.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Social heritage stories
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Level access to the main areas
  • Parking within 250m
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

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