Record Details

NHER Number:8520
Type of record:Building
Name:St Mary's Church, Fishley


St Mary's Church has a round tower of Norman date with a later 16th century bell chamber in brick, though it has cusped stone windows from the 14th century set in it. The original Norman bell openings are blocked but plain to see with their undressed flint arched openings. There is also a Norman south doorway, though this was much restored in 1861, when the church was renovated. However, the tower was left virtually untouched by the restorer. The nave projects to the north to form a narrow aisle but was extended without providing an arcade.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 3988 1148
Map Sheet:TG31SE

Full description

Round tower, amorphous; called Norman by (S1); has lancet to west, and large windows blocked in brick below the later brick top, which however has cusped stone windows of 14th century style set in it. Norman south door virtually rebuilt in 1861, as was much of church; south porch in Early English style presumably built them. South wall has cusped Y-tracery window and lancet; east window cusped Y-tracery with trefoil above. Chancel north wall has one lancet.
Nave projects north of chancel, with small lancets north, quatrefoil window (unrestored) to east, and according to (S1) another to west, though this is not visible on exterior - he suggests a former north aisle.
Blocked north doorway looks somewhat later than Early English; perhaps 14th century.
Interior inaccessible at time of visit (S1) mentions an organ case of 1781.

Visited E. Rose, 31 January 1979.

September 1962. Listed, Grade II*.
See (S2) for listing details.
E. Rose (NAU).

October 2009. Building survey with emphasis on the tower.
The tower is constructed of flint with glacial erratics and considerable quantities of lava quern fragments. The bell chamber is of brick and the roof is slate. The lower section of the tower, parts of the south wall of the nave and the west wall are the earliest surviving parts of the building and date to the 12th- century. The rest of the building belongs to either the later medieval period or the restoration of 1861. The tower was mostly unaltered by the 1861 restoration. A quatrefoil window was added to the ringing chamber doorway and a 12th-century bell opening was blocked.
See (S3) for further details,
H. White, (NLA), 5 February 2010.

January 2011. Tower repairs.
Elevation drawing being prepared to create a record of the tower before removal of scaffolding. The blocked Norman bell openings have flint reveals and some surviving voussoirs. These survive only at their springings whilst on the interior they survive complete. The span for a single arch according to the surviving springings is too shallow for a single arch and suggests twin openings on the outside face. This explains why the dressings in the centre of the blocked openings do not survive.
S. Heywood (HES), 14 January 2011.

December 2010. Watching Brief.
Maintained during excavation of drainage trenches and two soakaway pits within churchyard.
The soakaway pits both exposed deep subsoil deposits overlying undisturbed natural sands. No burials were encountered, although a small number of disarticulated human bone fragments were recovered from the pit located to the north-east of the church.
The various drainage trenches (which were much shallower) also revealed no archaeologically-significant features or deposits. Those closest to the church produced a number of brick and tile fragments, along with pieces of clay drainage pipe and two additional fragments of disarticulate human bone.
The human bones were retained on site for reburial.
See report (S4) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 8 January 2022.

See also (S5) and (S6).
A. Cattermole (HES), 31 January 2011.

August 2011. Newspaper Article.
A coffin lid made of purbeck marble has been found at St Mary's Church, which may have been moved out of the church during structural renovations undertaken in the 1860's by then estate owner Sophia Edwards. Dr Litten dates the burial to some time between 1250 and 1350.
See (S7) for further details.
D. Lefeuvre (HES), 22 August 2011.

August 2012. Shortlisted for a Heritage Angel Award 2012.
The parish Church of St Mary dates back to the late 13th century but incorporates some earlier elements, such as the 12th century tower. Lack of maintenance over the years had led to extensive deterioration for both the building and its landscape.
Overgrown vegetation had made the landscape around the church mostly inaccessible and had caused severe damage to its funerary monuments. The building suffered from water penetration from a leaking roof and guttering with extensive damage to internal plasterwork and floors. The tower was particularly at risk due to structural damage to the brickwork bell chamber, caused by erosion and water penetration.
In 2006, undaunted, churchwarden Ivan Barnard set out with his colleagues to restore the site to its former glory by tackling a task at a time, starting one morning by simply mending the church gates. From there, he progressed to showcasing the building through the Open Church Project and various local exhibitions and festivals, raising the total required sum of £110,000 through sponsorship, donations and six grant giving bodies, including English Heritage.
The works ran for five years and were completed in 2011 with the repair of the tower, amidst costly episodes of vandalism and even opposition from the Parochial Church Council (PCC). A Fishley Open Day has been held each week since 2009 to raise awareness of the church's history and legacy and encourage volunteers and visitors to get involved in its activities.
See website (S8) for further details.
D. Gurney (HES), 10 August 2012

Monument Types

  • CHURCH (Medieval to 21st Century - 1066 AD? to 2100 AD)

Associated Finds

  • HUMAN REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • BRICK (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD? to 1900 AD?)
  • DOOR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • DOOR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TILE (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD? to 1900 AD?)
  • WINDOW (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TG 3911AD - AE.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. p 470.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Historic churches awarded millions of pounds for essential maintenance work. 4 March.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Discover the forgotten glory of our sacred spaces. 8 May.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Keeping the faith with Norfolk's holy heritage. 3 July.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. Event to brush away centuries of mystery. 4 August.
---Leaflet: St Mary's Church, Fishley.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Late Saxon. Upton with Fishley.
<S1>Monograph: Pevsner, N. 1962. North-East Norfolk and Norwich. The Buildings of England. 1st Edition. pp 133-134.
<S2>Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1051427.
<S3>Unpublished Document: Heywood, S. 2009. S. Heywood Report, Building Survey of St Mary's Church, Fishley.
<S4>Unpublished Contractor Report: Birks, C. 2010. Report on an Archaeological Watching Brief at St Marys Church, Fishley, Norfolk. Chris Birks Archaeological Services. CB235R.
<S5>Illustration: Codling, C.. 2011. St Mary's Church, Fishley. Interior Rollout Elevation..
<S6>Illustration: Codling, C.. 2011. St Mary's Church, Fishley. Exterior Rollout Elevation Detailing Repair Works..
<S7>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. Crowds gather at church to see history uncovered. 13 August.
<S8>Website: English Heritage. 2012. English Heritage Angel Awards 2012.

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