Record Details

NHER Number:3062
Type of record:Building
Name:St Mary's Church, Elsing


A medieval parish church, which dates almost entirely to between 1330 and 1347, when it was rebuilt by Sir Hugh Hastings, who is buried inside the church. Only a small section of the wall of an earlier church survives. The elaborate memorial brass to Sir Hugh is one of the best surviving examples of medieval brasses in the country, and the church also contains an ornate 14th century font and screen. The remains of Sir Hugh were excavated in 1978, which also revealed a hearth which predated the church. The church is mentioned in Domesday Book, so the hearth may date to the 11th century, or before, although it cannot be dated with any certainty.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 0516 1654
Map Sheet:TG01NE

Full description

The area of the west nave wall south of the tower is the oldest visible section of the building, but it is not possible to date it accurately. The remainder of church was rebuilt between 1330 and 1347 by Sir Hugh Hastings whose brass remains inside. It is therefore an important example of an unaltered Decorated building of high quality. The nave is exceptionally wide. Exceptional font cover, and remains of screen, also dating from the early 14th century. The rood stair was added in the 15th century. The church was repaired in 1781 with a trussed nave roof.
Later restoration has clearly taken place, perhaps around 1906 when the Hastings brass was reset.
See (S1) and (S2).

1978. Excavation of Hastings tomb.
The excavation revealed an inhumation, extended and supine with head to the west, inside a wooden coffin with iron fittings. The coffin lay at the base of a rectangular brick chamber which itself lay beneath a Purbeck marble slab carrying a memorial brass to Sir Hugh Hastings (died 1347). A mass of cow's hair was recovered from beneath the skull, which may have been a cushion, or a wig.
This excavation also revealed a pre-church hearth.
See (S3).

8 September 1978. Found in molehills and sheep scrapers in south-west corner of churchyard.
Five small medieval unglazed pottery sherds.
A. Rogerson (NLA), September 1978.

1970s or 80s. Alan Carter Building Survey.
See (S4), which includes (S5).
T.E. Miller (NLA), 19 April 2006.

16 April 1991.
Medieval tiles found.
E. Rose (NLA) 17 February 1995.

September 2004. Observation of cable trench in nave.
See (S6) for stratigraphic details.
A. Rogerson (NLA), 27 July 2005.

At Clouds Hill (a National Trust property) in Dorset, there are rubbings of the Hastings brass by T.E. Lawrence. These were done in 1905, when Lawrence went on a cycle tour of Norfolk with his father.
D. Gurney (NLA), 24 March 2010.

Monument Types

  • HEARTH (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • CHURCH (Medieval to Modern - 1066 AD to 2050 AD)
  • TOMB (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • INHUMATION (Medieval - 1347 AD to 1347 AD)

Associated Finds

  • COFFIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • DOOR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FLOOR TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FONT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PISCINA (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • RING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ROOD SCREEN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL PAINTING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TG 0516 A,B,C-E,F-M.
---Graphic material: Various. Various. Architectural plans..
---Monograph: Mourin, K.. 2001. The Hastings Brass at Elsing..
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1985. Some secrets of Sir Hugh de Hastyngs.. 29 March.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1987. Pride of place for Sir Hugh.. 10 August.
---Leaflet: A Short History of Elsing Church..
---Monograph: Hart, S.. 2010. Medieval Church Window Tracery in England. p 108.
---Article in serial: Whitingham, A. 1980. Elsing Church. Archaeological Journal. Vol 137 p 318.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Photograph: BBL, BBK, BBM, HBM 10-14.
<S1>Scheduling record: English Heritage. List of Buildings of Historical and Architectural Interest.
<S2>Unpublished document: Rose, E.. 1995. Building Report..
<S3>Article in serial: Hooper, B., Rickett, S., Rogerson, A. and Yaxley, S. 1984. The Grave of Sir Hugh de Hastyngs, Elsing. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXXIX Pt I pp 88-99.
<S4>Unpublished document: Carter, A.. Building Survey.
<S5>Graphic material: Various. Various. Architectural plans..
<S6>Unpublished document: Rogerson, A.. 2005. Description of stratigraphy with photos and plan. September.

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