Record Details

NHER Number:11104
Type of record:Building
Name:St Mary's Church, Redenhall


This is the original parish church of Redenhall cum Harleston. It has been suggested that a Saxon minster stood on the site of the present church. The church itself was begun in the 1460s, and largely paid for by the De la Poles, one of the richest families in East Anglia during this period. As a result the church cuts a rather imposing figure, situated above the road and benefiting from a massive Perpendicular style tower. Interestingly the main body of the church actually lies across the parish border in Wortwell, with only part of the tower actually situated in Redenhall parish, however the parishes of Redenhall with Harleston and Wortwell are ecclesiastically united and St Mary's therefore represents the main church for both. Inside, the church has an interesting brass lectern in the shape of a double eagle and made around 1500 in East Anglia, as well as some puzzling farrier symbols carved into the late 15th century west door.


  • St Mary's Church, Redenhall.  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
  • The tower of St Mary's Church, Redenhall.  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service


Grid Reference:TM 2640 8437
Map Sheet:TM28SE

Full description

According to (S1) this was begun in 1460, spire removed 1680, replaced 1681 but gone by 1818. Informant notes that Victorian restorers found evidence of a round-towered church here. Double-headed eagle lectern is also a collection box. Coins went through the beaks to a secret drawer, now sealed but still full of coins (NCM Bolingbroke Collection).
E. Rose (NAU). 1980. [1]
Newspaper cutting in file (S2).

This is the original parish church of Redenhall cum Harleston and has been suggested as a Saxon minster; the market town of Harleston grew up in its parish. Yet the civil parish boundary between the parish and Wortwell runs west of the church and cuts across the corner of the tower, leaving the northwest buttress alone in Redenhall and the remainder in Wortwell. Yet the parish of Wortwell is a 19th century creation; it was at one time part of 'Mendham in Norfolk'. There must be a remarkable historical reason for this.
E. Rose (NLA), 6 September 2002.

Redenhall with Harleston gained land from Mendham, a parish which had been split between Norfolk and Suffolk, in 1885. Wortwell had been a hamlet inside the area of Redenhall, see (S3). It therefore seems likely that the creation of Wortwell as a parish (although I can't find a date for this) resulted in the loss of land including part of the church grounds, from Redenhall to Wortwell. Wortwell itself has no parish church and is ecclesiastically united with Redenhall and Harleston, so that this church represents the main church both parishes.
R. Fillery-Travis (NLA), 10th January 2006

(S4) describes an Italian chest of 15th/16th century date in the church which is very rare in not having a Crucifixion scene on the underside of the lid, as most such chests do. Tradition says this comes from the chapel of Gawdy Hall. The interior has painted scenes which some have said are of later date but (S4) does not believe this is the case.
E. Rose (NLA), 12 April 2007.

Monument Types

  • CHURCH (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Serial: Pevsner, N. & Wilson, B.. 1989. The Buildings of England. Norfolk 2: North-West and South..
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2006. A ding dong battle over village bells. 27 March.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. Fundraising bid for church windows. 12 November.
---Article in serial: Hayden, A. 2007. Church and Other Organs. Glaven Historian. No 10 pp 3-9.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1991. Photograph of St Mary's Church. 27 June.
<S1>Serial: 1819. Excursions through Norfolk..
<S2>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1985. Louts smash church glass. 10 June. 2.
<S3>Website: A Vision of Britain Through Time. 2006.
<S4>Monograph: Tracey, C.. 2001. Continental church furniture in England: a traffic in piety.. pp 154-5.

Related records - none

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