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St. Mary`s Architecture

St Mary’s Church at Whissonsett has had a place in the heart of the village — both literally and metaphorically — for 750 years.

Approached from the south, it has a beautiful setting among beech and yew trees.

Work is thought to have begun on a stone church in around 1250, which makes the Millennium a special anniversary for the parish.

The oldest parts of the church are thought to be the lower parts of the tower, which is otherwise 14th century. The chancel may well date from the late 14th century, although most of the extant parts of the building were re-built in the 15th century.

St Mary’s is constructed mainly in the Perpendicular and Decorated styles.

The NAVE is exceptionally wide (more than nine metres) and provides splendid acoustics which have led to the growing use of the church for fund-raising concerts. There is a niche above the South Door which probably used to contain a statue of the Virgin Mary. Further to the east of this there are three much-restored Perpendicular windows. There are traces of a hood mould on the tower side of the nave, showing that the nave roof was much higher and more pointed — and probably thatched.

The TOWER is built in three stages with diagonal buttresses. The battlements have splendid crocketted pinnacles with gargoyles in each corner. The tower was faced with demolition in the early 1990s, but villagers organised a massive fund-raising drive to save it.

The CHANCEL was much restored in 1875, with the highly-ornamental ridge a typical feature of Victorian restorations. It contains memorial stained glass from this period.

The organ in the chancel dates from around 1840 and is a fine chamber organ built by Richard Nicholson of Rochdale. The altar is raised three steps, with two large niches in the east wall.

Between the south side of the churchyard and the roads is an area of ground known as the Campingland. The name has nothing to do with the pitching of tents, but refers to the old English game of camp-ball or campus — a primitive form of football.

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