Manual Ref* NFbrBO001 Show 3 images 1065

St Michael

County Norfolk   District Council Broadland District Council 
Civil Parish or equivalent Booton  Town/Village* Booton 
Road Norwich Road 
Precise Location Above north porch of St Michael the Archangel, Booton 
OS Grid Ref TG 123 224  Postcode NR10 
Previous location(s)  
Setting On building  Access Public 
Artist/Maker Role Qualifier
Possibly James Minns  Sculptor(s)   

Commissioned by

Reverend Whitwell Elwin 

Design & Constrn period

Around 1900 

Date of installing


Exact date of unveiling



Abstract Animal Architectural
Commercial Commemorative Composite
Free Functional Funerary
Heraldic Military Natural
Non-Commemorative Performance Portable
Religious Roadside, Wayside Sculptural
Temporary, Mobile Other  

Object Type

Building Clock Tower Architectural
Coat of Arms Cross Fountain
Landscape Marker Medallion
Mural Panel Readymade
Relief Shaft Sculpture
Statue Street Furniture War Memorial
Other Object Sub Type: St Michael

Subject Type

Allegorical Mythological Pictorial
Figurative Non-figurative Portrait
Still-life Symbolic Other

Subject Sub Type

Bust Equestrian Full-length
Group Head Reclining
Seated Standing Torso
Part Material Dimension
St Michael  Bronze  Life-size 

Work is

Extant Not Sited Lost


Churches Conservation Trust 

Listing status

Grade I Grade II* Grade II Don't Know Not Listed

Surface Condition

Corrosion, Deterioration Accretions
Bird Guano Abrasions, cracks, splits
Biological growth Spalling, crumbling
Metallic staining Previous treatments

Structural Condition

Armature exposed Broken or missing parts
Replaced parts Loose elements
Cracks, splits, breaks, holes Spalling, crumbling
Water collection Other


Graffiti Structural damage Surface Damage

Overall condition

Good Fair Poor


No Known Risk At Risk Immediate

Description (physical)

Although placed in front of a niche St Michael was intended to be seen both frontally and from the sides. Like the stained glass windows from the 1890s (see below) St Michael was inspired by the example of the pre-Raphaelites, most notably the St George in Sir Edward Burne-Jones’s St George Slaying the Dragon, commissioned in 1866 by Miles Burket Foster for the dining room of his house at Witley, Surrey. The painting was sold in 1894 and remained in English collections until it was presented to the Gallery of New South Wales in 1950. It was well known through contemporary accounts of Burne-Jones and a photogravure of 1900. St Michael’s striking profile, ruffled hair and combination of plate armour worn over chainmail with sheet leggings, follows Burne-Jones’s St George, with the strikingly textured wings attached to the rear of the breastplate. The dreamlike action of the painting has been replaced by a more heroic stance as St Michael, with a cross hanging from his neck, places both hands on his large sword, looking out purposefully as he stamps down the dragon under foot. The name of the sculptor is not recorded and the statue is distant from the work being produced around 1900 as shown in Ben Read's Victorian Sculpture, New Haven and London, 1982. Ann Compton, the Project Originator and Director, Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951 at the University of Glasgow, has underlined the amateur approach: ' the figure was modelled by someone who had not been trained in working for bronze or, possibly, was deliberately flouting current teaching. My point is that the composition goes against the accepted idea that works cast in bronze should show off the possibilities of the material by incorporating minute definition of draperies and adopting an expansive composition to reflect the self-supporting properties of the final material - whereas the composition here is very contained.' The local artist, James Minns (1828-1904) responsible for the wooden angels in the roof, described himself variously as 'sculptor' and 'wood carver' and could possibly have provided the model for St Michael.  

Description (iconographical)

The church at Booton is an extraordinary building, the product of one man’s eccentric imagination. The Reverend Whitwell Elwin (rector 1850-1900), a descendant of Pocahontas of Hiawatha fame, built the church at the end of the 19th century without the help of an architect, borrowing details from other churches throughout the country. Some of his models can be identified; the west doorway was inspired by Glastonbury Abbey, for example, but the slender twin towers which soar over the wide East Anglian landscape and the central pinnacle which looks almost like a minaret, seem to have sprung solely from his imagination. Dramatic wooden angels hold up the roof, the work of James Minns, a well-known master-carver whose carving of a bull’s head is still the emblem on Colman’s Mustard and who also worked at Ketteringham. The church’s great glory is its stained glass windows, by Cox Sons and Buckley from the 1890s, a unique example of a unified scheme of saints, angels and musicians set against imaginative Gothic canopies moving in procession towards the high altar. The colour is striking for the Titianesque rich red robes and Venetian inspired brocades woven across the panoply of the windows, worn by archetypal willowy pre-Raphaelite ladies. Edwin Lutyens, the distinguished architect who married the daughter of one of Elwin’s oldest friends, said the church was ‘very naughty but built in the right spirit’. You may love the church; you may be outraged by it, but you cannot remain unmoved by such an exuberant oddity. 


Date taken:  15/8/2010
Date logged: 

Photographed by:
Sarah Cocke

On Site Inspection

Date:  15/8/2010

Inspected by:
Richard Cocke

Sources and References

for Burne-Jones:; For church accessed 16/08/2010 


Date entered:  16/8/2010

Data inputter:
Richard Cocke