From the Revd Peter Paine
Sir, - I was much heartened by the excellent picture of the
restored tower of St Mary's, Great Melton (News, 24
April), as my father, Humphrey Paine, and grandfather Nigel
Paine would be, who together served in the parish of Great Melton
from 1901 to 1969. But the caption is inaccurate where it says that
the tower of St Mary's is in the graveyard of All Saints', Little
Melton. This should read Great Melton.
It may interest readers to know that, from the 12th century,
there were two churches in the same churchyard at Great Melton.
This was as a consequence of there being two manors, that of the
Peverells, who supported All Saints', and Hacon's for St Mary's.
The tower of St Mary's was built in 1440 and had three bells. By
the time of Blomfield's History of Norfolk (1745), All
Saints' was a ruin, despite the attention given to it by the
Anguish family in the 17th century, who then held Peverell's
In 1713/14, an Act was passed by which St Mary's and All Saints'
were consolidated and made one rectory, advowson, and parish. All
Saints' was pulled down, and the materials were used to repair St
Mary's. In the 1880s, however, All Saints' was restored, rebuilt,
and enlarged, its only original feature being the square tower and
an Early English lancet window said to have come from St Mary's,
which was now a ruin.
My father wrote at the end of some notes on this tale of two
churches: "It is an extraordinary story of two medieval churches
standing in the same churchyard, in a not very populous parish.
There were enough people to fill one church, but not two; so
perhaps it was inevitable that one should be allowed to
disintegrate. St Mary's triumphed in the early 18th century when
All Saints' was a ruin, but, just 160 years later, roles were
reversed. All Saints' was rebuilt, and St Mary's a ruin. Why?"
One possible answer to that question is that there was nothing
equivalent to English Heritage in those days. So we have much to be
thankful for in today's Church.
27 Stratford Close
Southport PR8 2RT