THE PRIORY INVESTIGATES….

SANTON DOWNHAM CHURCH NORFOLK:

Quest number four takes us to All Saints Church, Santon Downham and to one of the smallest churches in England. Hidden away along a beautiful riverside walk on the border of Suffolk and Norfolk and surrounded by beautiful forests lies the tiny church of Santon Downham. It is well off the beaten track yet only a few miles from Elveden and Grimes Graves; a very important ancient flint mine; hence the extensive use of flint as a building material in this area. Santon Church; which has been constructed using this local flint certainly seems to have gained somewhat of a reputation when it comes to unusual happenings. The church was declared pastorally redundant some years ago and a trust was set up to care for it in 1996 and was granted a lease by the diocese in 1998. The trust is almost entirely dependant on volunteer help and visitors gifts but one can see that this little church is very lovingly looked after and cherished.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grime’s_Graves

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santon_Downham

 

River 1   Trees 2

The stunning walk to the church

Church 3

Santon church nestling within the peaceful Norfolk countryside

The church is sometimes mistakenly known by the locals as St Helens Church, due to the fact that there was once a nearby church of the same name. Some years ago, aside a nearby stream there was indeed another church here, situated right next to a freshwater, underground spring; an old church named St Helens; so thus the confusion has arisen over the years, but they were in fact two different churches.

Another point of interest is that in 1972 ‘Dads Army’ the beloved TV show was also filmed here, even though a very short broadcast, still never the less filmed here and one wonders why they chose this particular church; for the countryside one presumes? All very interesting

There have been many tales told and ensuing investigations into the happenings here at Santon Church, but even without the ‘ghostly goings on’  this church and area have had a very fascinating history and we are here today to either prove or disprove and to allow everyone to make up their own minds. Here is our lead paranormal investigator Alek with an introduction…

Ornament 13  Ornament 14 (1)

These are the two sculptures mentioned in the previous clip. They can be found on the wall of the far side of the church and are exactly the same as on Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland…

Lamb of God 4

 The stunning ‘Lamb of God’ (Agnus Dei) window high above the altar with more than just a hint of suggestion to Knight Templar connections

Haunted Pew 12   Altar 5

The ‘haunted’ pew; very much colder than the surrounding area and a close up of the altar detail, again showing Knight Templar influences

Ceiling 11

The stunningly beautiful coloured ceiling echoing the design of the Italian Chapel of the Orkeys; again depicting strong Knight Templar influences, which is very interesting for a church seeminly in the middle of nowwhere…

The Reverend Ken Doyle:

So the Reverend Ken Doyle would have taken his sermons from the pulpit which is just over the aisle from the ‘haunted’ pew, but what is interesting to note is that he was very much a drunkard and there are even reports of him having ‘wild sexual orgies’ in the church during the night time with alcohol, liquor and ‘loose women’ and various other people coming and going, enjoying these carnal frivolities.

But what is fascinating is that Ken Doyle was in actual fact de-clothed yet one cannot find much about this on the internet or anywhere else, but what is most interesting is that he was then re-clothed!  There was actually a lot of controversy as to the reasons why he was re-clothed. He was certainly de-clothed for being a drunkard; of being of ill-repute and being morally unacceptable, yet despite all this he had enough information to bribe certain members of the royal family; enough to take action with. So in order to hush him, he was consquently re-clothed; he had his home, his money and his funds back in order to survive! Then what happened was, he was put into this tiny parish here at Santon Downham – so yes he was re-clothed but put into a parish; a church in the middle of nowhere where he would be lucky to get any parishioners – so thus his ‘punishment’ for what he had done.

It is said that the Reverend Doyle will talk to people here; he will communicate and say different things to people whilst here. Folks often report of the the smell of intense alcohol just down from the pulpit area. The pulpit itself is very old, all original wood with a gate and very steep steps – no easy task for a drunken priest to manage – that is if he actually physically ever made it up the steps in the first place! Down in front of the pulpit is a very small section where the choir would have sat; an amazingly small church and with a very small congregation.

The Mysteries and Masonic Symbolism of Santon Church:

Santon church is certainly a very small church which would have had a very small congregation and yet some big mysteries do still remain.

Why is Bancroft, a tax collector buried here prominently in the main aisle; a fact that certainly makes no sense?  It is known that he was a Freemason of very high ranking and as mentioned previously there are certainly Masonic elements to the whole church which are plainly visible, such as the church’s structure and design, the Fleur de Lys, the Lamb of God and the Italian Chapel roof; all very Masonic driven, leading to shall we say, some kind of ‘cult’ aspect going on here. Even down to the ‘trinity’ symbol on the window at the back of the church, all very interesting. Many visitors to the church have suggested smelling an aroma of alcohol but on the day we visited there was a putrid smell but rather down to the dampness of the church than anything else.

Window 10   Window 9

The church windows; one of which clearly shows the ‘trinity’ symbol

In the pew which is know as the haunted pew is a plaque on the wall, again embelished with overtly Masonic symbolism as described in our next short clip. One wonders why this particular plaque was placed here and is there a connection to the lady in question, the haunted pew and the masonic symbolism?

Seal 7

The haunted pew itself has a door which, it is said, seemingly opens on its own and which does not take kindly at all to any visitors that enter there. It is also known as the Royal Pew, being at the front of the church, but in somewhat of an obscure position, right in front of a solid wall, with no view of the altar, so not really very ‘Royal’ at all; the best seats in the house being a couple of rows back where one could see the priest, the choir and the altar. We all went and sat inside the said pew and apart from sensing a big drop in temperature and a distinct feeling of it being ‘different’ from the rest of the church, we found nothing untoward to be occurring.

Our main researcher Alek was very aware at this point of seeing a mist, a veil as he looked out from the pew, but whether this was light reflection we are unsure, but it was mostly just around the pulpit area. Also as the link at the bottom shows, we recorded an EVP in the altar area!

Since arriving in the church the atmosphere was at first quite intense and buzzy but it did change to become very peaceful and calming, which was a good sign and although Alek did try for some time to establish communication and ask for a sign or reason and purpose for any ‘entities’ being there;  no one was forthcoming on this particular day. Never the less a very intereting day with much pause for thought…

Please followour link for a full account of the day and an EVP recorded in the altar area

The quaint yet perfect little church of Santon Downham, set amidst rural countryside only a few miles from the ‘lunaresque’ landscape of Grimes Graves ancient flint mines, which provided flint for the church and elsewhere.

Church 15  Forest 16

GG 18  GG 17

Conclusions and thoughts for the day:

So what of this small church in the quiet untouched landscape of Santon Downham? Was it a mysterious setting for some sinister act or was it merely a church for the local people? It makes no sense at all to have a church this small and if we look at records dating back, Santon Downham had a larger population in times past; presumably it would have required a larger church than All Saints?

It is evident that this church is covered in Masonic and Knights Templar meanings and one can only make suggestions as to the reasons of such. From the ‘Lamb of God’ prominent within the church and taking a centre space, it is clear that this church hides the secrets of the past for only a few to see and truly know.

Attention should be drawn to Mary Ann Cutter, after all, she was known locally as the ‘Guardian of Secrets’, especially those of the Knights Templar whom had lands in Santon Downham in 1221. It is truly amazing to think that the Templars have taken many on a journey of ‘red herrings’, a journey with no conclusion and one can only assume that the key to success is within the simplicity of structure. That age-old phrase to state the obvious to become the non-obvious certainly springs to mind here… Therefore, if we place items in such a remote seldom-heard land, it is sure to be safe and untouched for a millennia.

Are there ghostly tales to tell of this quaint church? Yes, there is certainly activity there, even a whisper or two, but it really does depend on the purpose of your visit, your actual presence there. If you are there to mock, to find something that is not yours, then those whom protect it are surely going to react in a hostile way. However, if you are there for education, for enlightenment, then you will experience a peace and energy unknown to many.

gravestones

 Two of the more interesting gravestone at Santon Downham church; the larger is of a child named Lockwood and the smaller one behind is unamed and unmarked…

If you would like to know more; to join us in our journeyings, on our quests of the secrets of the land or to join us in The Priory on our spiritual journey of the truths of the land – please see the links below:-

moon.willow@ntlworld.com

http://priory7.wix.com/priory