Record Details

NHER Number:10075
Type of record:Building
Name:St Mary's Church, Forncett


This disused and partly derelict medieval church has 19th century alterations. Sections of the nave are late 11th or 12th century, 13th century elements survive in the chancel and parts of the nave and tower are 15th century. There is a 17th century pulpit and communion rail (the rail is now around the font). A 15th century wooden door leads from the tower to nave roof space and is a rare survival.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TM 1662 9383
Map Sheet:TM19SE

Full description

Medieval church.

October 1979. Visit.
Disused and part derelict. Trace of blocked round headed window in nave south wall, and possibly another above the south door - or is this merely cracks? Chancel is mostly of 1869, but in north wall lancet of 13th century Early English type which looks original and may be reset. Otherwise chancel and contemporary south chapel are in Decorated style. Nave and west tower Perpendicular (15th century); tower thin and unbuttressed with flushwork panelling.
North porch ruinous and roofless; tall entrance, apparently Perpendicular, and piscina in which is a bird's nest. South doorway has Perpendicular head but simple quoins. 17th century pulpit. Jacobean communion rail now around font. North door with linenfold panels. Paten, London 1789; chalice and paten 1804 according to (S1) - where now?
Interior inaccessible at time of visit but details visible through windows. In yard an unusual 19th century double gravestone, and scattered fragments of a font or large stone vase, octagonal and tapering but not apparently of great age.
E. Rose (NAU), 3 October 1979.

A bell given to Fundenhall. Furnishings except organ removed to Diocesan store when church abandoned, except organ which has since been removed by member of the public [1]. Information from member of the public [2].
E. Rose (NAU), 13 November 1985.

19 December 1985.
Choir stalls given to North Wootton to make an organ gallery.

Architect's drawings (S2) and newspaper articles in file (S3).
Appropriate section from (S4) in file.

See detailed report in file (S5) which notes very rare survival of wooden door from tower to nave roof space.
E. Rose (NLA), 4 October 1999.

2001. Feasibility Study.
In 1997 an Options for Use study identified conservation as holiday accommodation as the most beneficial option for the church and in 1998 the Advisory Board for Redundant Churches approved plans for its conservation and restoration that had been submitted by the Vivat Trust. A Feasibility Study was subsequently completed by the Vivat Trust - see report (S7) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 6 March 2015.

December 2003. Visit.
Natural outcrop of ironbound conglomerate revealed by dredging in a stream that forms east side of churchyard. No visible material of this sort in the church however.
E. Rose (NLA), 6 December 2003.

December 2005.
(S5) suggests that parts of the nave date to the late 11th century or first half 12th century. Tower 15th century. Door from tower bell stage to roof space is original. Three bay bell frame.
Information from (S5).
D. Robertson (NLA), 8 December 2005.

March 2010.
The church stands at the centre of the original settlement of Fornsetta, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book as one of the four settlements in the manor of Forncett. In the burial ground there are headstones dating from the end of the 18th century to just after the mid-20th century. Burials did take place prior to this period but headstones were rarely used and multiple burials often occupied the same plot. The church was closed in 1981. A plan to mana]ge and restore the church is currently underway.
See (S6).
S. Howard (NLA), 24 March 2010.

December 2014 and February 2015. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of groundworks associated with installation of new drainage system.
The majority of the drainage trenches were close to the church walls and in several places their flint footings were exposed. A particularly substantial flint and mortar footing was exposed at the base of the east wall of the porch which may actually relate to an earlier element of the church. It only extended about a third of the way along the wall of the porch and seemed more substantial than would be required for such a small structure. It is suggest that it may relate to the original west end of the nave.
No features were observed elsewhere and the only deposit of any interest was a layer of cream mortar exposed close to the south-west corner of the vestry. This presumably represented debris from a particular phase of construction or demolition.
See report (S8) for further details. The small number of finds recovered are recorded under NHER 55052.
P. Watkins (HES), 13 April 2021.

Monument Types

  • CHURCH (Medieval to 21st Century - 1066 AD to 2100 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • DOOR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PISCINA (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • Xbell frame (Medieval - 1400 AD to 1500 AD)
  • WINDOW (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TM 1693A-C.
---Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1304627.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Ideas for a church. 18 October.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1998. Holiday homes idea for church. 23 November.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Villagers breathe new life into their historic church. 18 May.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, B. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. p 341.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Every church tells a story. 27 July.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. New windows point to a brighter future for church. 23 February.
---Unpublished Document: 2009. Friends of St Mary's Church newsletter.. Issue 1, July.
---Unpublished Document: 2010. Friends of St Mary's Church newsletter.. Issue 2, January.
---Unpublished Document: Forncett Parish Council. 2010. The Forncett Flyer.. January.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. Plan to bring church out of redundancy. 21 December.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. First wedding in 43 years. 17 September.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1998. Church in waiting (comment). 23 November.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1982. Forncett pays tribute with church memorial bell. 4 February.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2015. Church restoration scoops award for volunteer group. 10 September.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2017. Grant completes a big comeback for redundant village church. 15 December.
<S1>Monograph: Pevsner, N. 1962. North-West and South Norfolk. The Buildings of England. 1st Edition. pp 162-163.
<S2>Drawing: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
<S3>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1990-1998. [Articles and letters to the editor on the potential plans for the redundant St Mary's Church, Forncett].
<S4>Monograph: Batcock, N. 1991. The Ruined and Disused Churches of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 51. Microfiche 5:G12. No 13; p 50.
<S5>Unpublished Document: Heywood, S. 1999. Building Report.. Building Report.
<S6>Leaflet: 2009. Forncett St Mary Church: The Church in the Valley.
<S7>Unpublished Document: [Unknown]. 2001. St Mary's Church, Forncett. A Feasibility Study for the Vivat Trust. The Vivat Trust.
<S8>Unpublished Contractor Report: Bates, S. 2015. Report on Archaeological Monitoring, St Mary's Church, Forncett St Mary, Norfolk. Sarah Bates. 15.

Related records

MNO9905Related to: Church of St Mary Low Road FORNCETT ST MARY (Revoked)

Find out more...

Norfolk County Council logo Heritage Lottery Fund logo

Powered by HBSMR-web and the HBSMR Gateway from exeGesIS SDM Ltd, and mojoPortal CMS
© 2007 - 2024 Norfolk Historic Environment Service