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St. Mary`s Church History

A thousand years of an English country church — some key dates in the story of St. Mary’s.

c920 A wayside cross is set up on the site of the future church.
1086 The Domesday Book records “Witcingkeseta” is held by Ralph, son of Walter, of Roger Bigod.
c1250 The church, of flint and freestone dressings, is built.
c1272 The earliest recorded rector, one Peter de Hikelyng.
1322-77 The surviving medieval glass installed.
14th century: The tower built in three stages, with diagonal buttresses.
15th century: Rest of church rebuilt.
1495 Alice Rokewode left 4d yearly to the ringers.
1534 Church of England dissociates itself from Papal authority.
1577 Earliest extant parish registers.
1594 The oldest extant original bell is cast.
1700 First extant churchyard memorial.
mid-18th century Possible date for construction of church clock.
1830 Whissonsett benefice amalgamated with Horningtoft.
c1840 Chamber organ installed.
1844 Carthew noted the church was badly pewed and floored, windows broken and a poor state of repair.
c1849 A number of coins, beads, fragments of figured tiles and a medieval ring found in the churchyard.
1870 The Rev Francis Lane presented the stone pulpit and carved open-work rood screen.
1872 A stone consecration cross discovered under whitewash and imbedded in the wall of the chancel.
1875 Major restoration work to the church, especially to the chancel.
1902 Anglo-Saxon Cross discovered in the churchyard.
1979 Fund-raising begun to restore bells.
1985 Ring of five bells completed.
1987-88 Medieval glass restored.
1992 Architect’s inspection reveals 150,000 of repairs needed over the next 15 years.
1993 Restore Appeal to Whissonsett launched. 20,000 target raised by September to save tower.
1993-date Fundraising efforts continue.

Restore Appeal

The restore appeal was launched in 1993 to raise at least £20,000 for urgent repairs to St. Mary’s Church. The huge success of the appeal with donations and fund raising events meant that over the past 18 years extensive work has restored the walls,roof,windows and tower,the interior has been cleaned and restored and a new wooden floor installed. The Restore Appeal has now been closed but fund raising continues with a new heating system and seating the next target.


To celebrate the Millennium almost fifty new kneelers were made by parishoners to represent many aspects of village life.An album of photographs of the kneelers may be seen in the new display cabinet which from time to time has exhibits from the village archives.

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