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Aerial views of a treasury of Norfolk churches

PUBLISHED: 10:22 14 November 2017 | UPDATED: 07:50 17 November 2017

Bessingham: One of our prettiest round-towered churches, which happily has not fallen victim to over-zealous Victorian 'restoration.' Picture: Mike Page

Bessingham: One of our prettiest round-towered churches, which happily has not fallen victim to over-zealous Victorian 'restoration.' Picture: Mike Page

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Photographer Mike Page has joined forces once more with writer Pauline Young to present another aerial survey of Norfolk churches. Trevor Heaton reports.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to Mike Page’s pictures of Norfolk - literally. Over 45 years the aerial photographer has taken more than 140,000 images of the county in all its moods and wonders.

Now his studies of some of Norfolk’s famous treasury of churches have provided the chance to team up once again with his long-time collaborator Pauline Young.

Their new book, More Norfolk Churches From The Air (Poppyland, £12.95), is a sequel to a very popular first volume in 2014. Part of the reason to publish was because of the many comments that ‘our church wasn’t included’ in that first selection.

And let’s face it, they are not going to run out of material any time soon - Norfolk has the greatest concentration of medieval churches in the world.

The book brings home the sheer variety of buildings, from the tiny (Bessingham) to the stately (Carbrooke), all shapes and sizes, every one telling its own stories of the 30 or so generations that have worshipped in each of them.

This book is a reflection too, of changing times: of churches abandoned or outgrown, of buildings left behind (literally) as settlements shifted over the centuries. Sometimes it has been the hand of man which has caused an abrupt change rather than the relentless toll of the centuries. One of most striking examples of this is at Bawdeswell, where the ancient village church was destroyed one terrible day in 1944.

A Mosquito fighter-bomber on its way back to RAF Bexwell, near Downham Market, crashed, killing its two crew. A new building rose from the ashes in 1950s, its elegant neo-Georgian lines making it, as Pauline observes, something that would not be out of place in Virginia.

Sometimes, too, even ‘dead’ churches can prove to have new life too. The ruins of West Raynham church have been stabilised, the clinging ivy cleared and a new altar installed.

And if all that hasn’t persuaded you to put this lovely book on your Christmas list, the fact that all profits from it will be going to cancer charities might just help you make up your mind...

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