Record Details

NHER Number:1724
Type of record:Building
Name:All Saints' Church, Bircham Newton


This 13th century church is possibly of two builds. It may incorporate features from an earlier church and has a 19th century vestry. The font is Norman. A 14th century coffin lid has a carved effigy of a priest on it, and in 1834 the remains of a man and a child were found beneath it.
A recent examination of the fabric of the nave identified several distinct phases of construction. It is suggested that the church began as a Saxo-Norman two-celled structure that was gradually extended during the medieval period, when the nave was expanded and eventually heightened and the present tower and chancel constructed. Features exposed during the replacement of the nave floor included foundations and floor surfaces that may have been part of the chancel associated with the first phase of the Saxon-Norman church.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 7695 3385
Map Sheet:TF73SE

Full description

All Saints' Church, Bircham Newton.

Under effigy of a priest in 1834 were found skeletons of a man and a child! It is noted by (S1) that there is a face plaque of a child above the slab. Parish had one inhabitant in 1511 but grew again in 19th century.
E. Rose (NAU).

June 1953. Listed, Grade II*.
Listing Description Excerpt:
"Parish Church. 13th century, perhaps of two builds incorporating earlier church. Flint with stone dressings, pantiled nave and slated chancel roofs. West tower, two-bay nave, two-bay chancel. Unbuttressed tower, four stages."
Information from (S1).
Please consult the National Heritage List for England (S1) for the current details.
P. Watkins (HES), 30 January 2018. Amended by H. Hamilton (HES), 8 November 2019.

Press cutting (S2) in file.

It is noted in (S3) that the church was reordered in 1858 but retains the traditional pre-ecclesiological layout having poppyhead benches with candle sockets; pulpit, desk and pews.
E. Rose (NLA) 24 May 2002.

August 2005.
13th century, possibly of two builds incorporating an earlier church. Flint with stone dressings, pantiled nave and slated chancel roofs. West tower, unbuttressed. South and north nave doors about 1300. Chancel has late 13th century details. 19th century vestry addition. Norman font. Chancel arch possibly Norman. Early English piscina. 14th century coffin lid effigy of priest, with heart in hands.
D. Robertson (NLA) 2 August 2005.

September-October 2013. Watching Brief.
Maintained during lowering of church floor.
The groundworks revealed a range of archaeologically significant features and deposits including wall foundations, floor layers and graves. This work also provided an opportunity to consider the possible development of the church, with four possible phases of construction identified. It is suggested that the earliest phase of construction (Phase 1) was associated with a nave that was somewhat shorter than the present structure (though of the same width). The second construction phase appears to have seen the extension of the nave and the possible movement of the chancel arch from its original position. It appears that the north-west corner of the nave may also have been rebuilt at this point. The walls associated with the first phase of construction are built entirely of flint whereas those of the second phase contain occasional pieces of Roman tile and reused limestone and are associated with limestone quoins (although the latter may not be original). The third proposed phase of construction involved the construction of a stair turret in the south-west corner of the nave, suggesting that the west tower is also of this phase, although it may well have replaced an earlier west tower (evidence of which may include an early stub of wall that projects westwards from the north-west corner of the nave). The forth phase of construction saw the roof of the nave raised, which may well have occurred at the same time as the construction of the current chancel, which is believed to date to the early 14th century.

Features exposed during the watching brief that were potentially associated with the earliest phase of construction included the foundations of a wall that may have formed the south side of the early chancel. If this was the case its position suggests that the chancel was slightly narrower than the nave. Internal floors that appeared to respect this wall were probably the original chancel floor surfaces. These deposits were cut by at least two graves and a possible scaffolding post-hole that produced a sherd of 12th- to 14th-century pottery. Excavation of this post-hole exposed an underlying deposit of grey sandy ash sealing what was likely to be the pre-church topsoil. This buried soil was also exposed at the western end of the nave, which had also been disturbed by a number of grave cuts. A compact chalk floor was also noted in the north-east corner of the nave, which had also been truncated by a number of grave cuts.
Finds retained include a small number of medieval and post-medieval pottery sherds, medieval and post-medieval floor tiles, a single potentially Roman tile and a fragment of medieval window glass. The medieval floor tiles recovered during this work and a subsequent watching brief in the churchyard (NHER 62517) are a mix of 14th- to 15th-century Flemish imports and tiles that were probably made locally (being similar to tiles made during the 14th century at Bawsey).
See report (S4) for further details. The results of this work are summarised in (S5), which also outlines the four phases of construction indicated by the observed features.
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2017.200).
P. Watkins (HES), 30 January 2017. Amended 19 May 2019.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Roman - 43 AD? to 409 AD?)
  • CHURCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FLOOR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • GRAVE (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • INHUMATION (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FLOOR (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • TILE (Roman - 43 AD? to 409 AD?)
  • FLOOR TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • EFFIGY (Medieval - 1300 AD to 1400 AD)
  • FLOOR TILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD? to 1900 AD?)
  • FLOOR TILE? (Post Medieval - 1540 AD? to 1900 AD?)
  • PANTILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TF7633A-B.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, W. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 206-207.
---Map: Birdsall, N.. Plan of St Mary's Church, Bircham Newton..
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1077805.
<S2>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1993. [Photograph of All Saints Church at Bircham Newton]. 4 March.
<S3>Monograph: Yates, N.. 2000. Buildings, Faith and Worship: the liturgical arrangement of Anglican Churches 1600-1900.. pp 152, 202.
<S4>Unpublished Contractor Report: Hickling, S. 2015. All Saint’s Church, Honey Hill, Bircham Newton, Norfolk, PE31 6QR. Archaeological Monitoring. NPS Archaeology.
<S5>Article in Serial: Hickling, S. 2017. Winter Lecture Synopsis: Excavations at All Saints', Bircham Newton (Members' night - 10th January 2017). Norfolk Historic Buildings Group Newsletter. No 33 p 15.

Related records

62517Parent of: Medieval to post-medieval burials, churchyard of All Saints’ Church (Monument)

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