History of All Saints & St. Mary's
All Saints History
All Saints' stands on a prominent site rightly famed for its spring daffodils, overlooking a tributary of the river Tas flowing through Shotesham's extensive common.
Its dedication suggests a Saxon origin though the nave was given perpendicular windows and the chancel extended in the fourteenth century. Shotesham was once under the jurisdiction of Ely cathedral and the heavy north door is made of knotless oak (left overs) brought from the Baltic for the cathedral.
Mediaeval wall paintings which survived the dissolution include St Lawrence (perhaps Dives in hell or even a female martyr), the tree of life, (the black boy) and a Tudor lady. The unusual font with its lions and demi-angels is from the fifteenth century, and another rare feature is the carving of a vulture (famed for its excellent eye-sight) which surmounts the nave roof.
http://tasvalley.org/img/thumbs/Unknown-7.jpegThe five bell peal is rung regularly by the All Saints' team who climb the unusual external winding staircase to the ringing chamber in the fifteenth century tower which was restored some twenty years ago.
The handbells were recently refurbished and are now rung at village events and in services by an enthusiastic all-age team.
At the centre of a small community, the church is used not only for worship, but as a venue for community events such as concerts by both amateur and professional musicians and the New Year's day candlelight walk across the fields from our sister church of St Mary.
St. Mary's History
Once described as the "lonely sixteenth century church across the fields" St Mary's must pre-date that since the nave is from the twelfth and the chancel from the thirteenth centuries. Although it was heavily restored in the nineteenth century the church retains the rustic simplicity and atmosphere of simple country church.
There is some rare stained glass including a Marian monogram which survived the dissolution and a Judas window in the door which has a handle with the emblem of two lizards (illustrated in the British Museum) to bring good luck to those entering.
A hole in the porch wall attests to a rail to prevent the parson's stock from entering the church when grazing in the churchyard. Nowadays the churchyard is a site of special scientific interest with several species of rare plant. In early October villagers gather with a motley range of garden implements to perform the annual "tidy up".
Having no mains services the delightful organ has to be hand pumped and the church lends itself to candlelit worship. Both the Christmas carol service and Good Friday Tenebrae service are extremely well-attended as are the traditional "country services" (Plough Sunday, Rogation, Lammas, as well as Harvest) throughout the year.
About 1900 a coke-fired boiler was installed (now long defunct) to warm the church by passing hot air through large cast iron pipes. In 2007 the lean-to boiler house was rebuilt to house St Mary's own "power station" running entirely off Calor gas. It is unique to the region and provides electricity and a very efficient, and welcome, hot air heating system. The enthusiasm which engendered this innovation speaks with confidence of the enthusiasm in the congregation and in the future of the Church.