BANHAM CHURCH and the Gaymer Windows and Headstone



The Church

First Gaymer Window

Second Gaymer Window

The Gaymer Headstone

*The ChurchBanham Church

The church, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, is a large building of flint, mostly in the Perpendicular style of architecture, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave of five bays, north and south aisles, and large south porch. It also has a square western tower, surmounted by a leaden spire, 125 feet high, and containing a clock and six bells. The thin spire is a local land-mark and can be seen from miles around.

The church structure was nearly all built in the fourteenth century during the reigns of the first three Edwards. The tower is reckoned to be the oldest part of the church. The basic material of the building is natural flint and white freestone was used for windows and framing. The building was extensively restored in 1863 by the then rector, the Revd. J G Fardell. There is also evidence of earlier restoration in 1622.

* First Gaymer Window

On the south wall, the first window commemorates perhaps the most famous native of Banham, William Gaymer (1842-1936) who founded the well known Gaymer cyder factory (first in Banham and later in Attleborough) - although his father and grandfather had produced cyder on a less commercial basis for many years beforehand. Appropriately, the window features apple trees in blossom and fruit. Apart from the obvious reference to cyder, in medieval tradition the apple was the tree of forbidden fruit in Eden and subsequently it became the tree from which the Cross was made, so summarising the fall and salvation of man. An inscription at the foot of the window reads:

"Not as the world giveth give I unto you Gratias Deo. To the dear and honoured memory of William Gaymer who was born in this village in 1842, worshipped for many years in this church of which he was a generous friend. He passed to the Higher Life at Attleborough on 22 May 1936. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept my faith."

friarThe window is by the well-known glazing firm James Powell & Sons, Whitefriars, London. Their trade-mark of a white monk is incorporated in the bottom left corner of the window.

 Window 1  Window 1
 First Gaymer Window
 Click on above images to see larger pictures

* Second Gaymer Window

The adjoining window, also on the south wall, is one which William Gaymer installed in 1914 in memory of his parents and family. The subject here is the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2 v.22-39). On the left are Mary, Joseph with sacrificial doves and the aged prophetess Anna. This would seem to be a portrait, perhaps of Gaymer's mother. It was a frequent practice in the middle ages and again in Victorian times to cast a recognisable person in one of the lesser roles of the scriptures. On the right is Simeon holding the Christ Child. The old man is saying the words of the evensong canticle "Nunc dimittis servum tuum": "Lord now let thy servant depart in peace". An inscription at the foot of the window reads:

"This window, dedicated to the Glory of God, is erected by William Gaymer in loving memory of William and Rebecca Gaymer, his parents, of Mary his sister, and also in affectionate regard for those of his kinsfolk who have entered into rest. The lord whom you seek shall suddenly come to this temple. Tho I come and I will dwell in the midst of thee saith the Lord. AD MCMXIV"

wheatseafThe window is by the important glazing firm of Kempe and Tower (shown by the trade-mark of a tower within a wheatsheaf in the bottom left corner).

 window 2  Window 2
 Second Gaymer Window
 Click on above images to see larger pictures

* Gaymer Headstone

Part of the churchyard has now been levelled and headstones laid out in a line. However, the headstone of John "Long John" Gaymer (1843), his wife Mary (1858), and their son Robert (1836) has been brought into the church and rests against the north wall. Another stone (see photo below) with similar markings (presumably placed at the foot of the grave) was in the churchyard until about 1995. This had cracked and possibly it has been destoyed following the churchyard levelling.

Missing Headstone - John & Mary Gaymer

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(The website author is indebted to Brian Turner of Old Buckenham who produced a booklet on the church containing much of the above text).

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Photos updated 20 January 2001