Record Details

NHER Number:2468
Type of record:Building
Name:St Mary's Church, Wimbotsham


A 12th century parish church with some late 13th century work and a mid 19th century chancel. The south and north doors both date to the 12th century, and a medieval wall painting of St Christopher has been recorded in the nave. A number of early 20th century farthings were found on the wall-plate of the porch. The farthings are said to have been left by soldiers during World War One and were left where they were found.
Sadly, in September 2019 the church suffered a major fire that destroyed the roof and the interior of the nave and damaged the tower. It is assumed that the church will eventually be restored.


  • St Mary's Church, Wimbotsham, a 12th century parish church with some late 13th century work and a mid 19th century chancel. Photograph from  © S. Knott


Grid Reference:TF 6223 0489
Map Sheet:TF60SW

Full description

Carrstone. Norman south doorway, ornate; North doorway simpler; chancel arch simpler still. Neo-Norman chancel, of same dimensions as original Norman one, and apse, said to have been built on original foundations discovered: very heavy and overdone. Decorated/Perpendicular tower with little lancets and ogee stair door in west interior wall of nave. South windows Perpendicular, restored cusped lancets, and Early English two-light window lowered to form sedilia with renewed angle piscina. North windows Perpendicular, with rood stair rising straight through base of easternmost (compare with Earlham). North porch 19th century? Boarded nave roof with leaf bosses, repaired. Good carved bench ends. Chalice, 1664. Good condition.
Visited by E. Rose (NAU) 16 February 1977.

(S1) says the Norman apse had been demolished in the medieval period and only traces could be seen near the roof before chancel rebuilt. Former chancel had a Decorated. East window with niche above and arch below. On South were 2 Early English lancets and 1 Norman window survived high on North. In the nave was formerly a St Christopher wall painting.
E. Rose (NAU).

A. Rogerson notes 2 pieces of interlace in chancel wall, one 'very Saxon looking'.
E. Rose (NAU).

July 2004.
A builder said that some years ago when working on the porch he discovered a number of farthings on the wallplate. The Incumbent stated that these were thrown there by soldiers leaving for the Great War. The coins were replaced where they were found.
E. Rose (NLA), 10 August 2004.

December 2008.
The belfry contains three bells, one undated, one dated c.1470-1513 and the third 1726 (now cracked). The nave roof is dated c. 1480-1500 and is divided into square panels with a richly carved boss at each intersection.
See (S2) for further information
H. White (NLA) 22 December 2008.

4 September 2019.
Church badly damaged by fire.
The fire, which broke out early in the morning and was attended by over 50 firefighters, caused significant damage to the roof and the nave, which was left as a largely empty shell. The mid 17th-century altar table was destroyed and the fonts and pulpit were also badly damaged. The vestry was however not burnt out and as a result the parish register survived.
See local press articles (S3)-(S10) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 20 August 2020.

August 2020.
Bells removed from tower.
In October 2019 permission was granted to remove the three church bells due to concerns that they could fall from the tower (the fire having charred the wooden bell frame). Their removal eventually took place on 6 August 2020. Unfortunately it was found that the two previously intact, older bells had both cracked as a result of the fire. All three bells were sent to have their cracks welded before being transferred to White’s of Appleton Oxon Bellfounders for further repair work.
The charred bell frame was found to have suffered from dry rot both before and after the fire and as a result it was recommended that it be drawn and then dismantled for disposal. It was also felt that it would not be possible to save the bell chamber floor. The frames and louvres of the bell soundings will also need to be removed and replaced.
Information from (S11). See also (S12).
P. Watkins (HES), 20 August 2020.

Monument Types

  • CHURCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CHURCH (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • COIN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • RITUAL ARTEFACT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TF6204 A,B.
---Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1205605.
---Monograph: Bryant, T. H. 1904. Hundred of Clackclose. The Churches of Norfolk. Vol XIII. pp 334-343.
---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 782-783.
---Leaflet: Wimbotsham Church..
---Article in Serial: Dashwood, G. H. 1849. Notes on the Parish and Church of Wimbotsham. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol II pp 127-148.
<S1>Monograph: Bryant, J.. 1900. Norfolk Churches..
<S2>Unpublished Document: Turner, J. C. Notes on the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Wimbotsham.
<S3>Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 2019. Firefighters on scene of blaze at historic Wimbotsham church. 4 September.
<S4>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2019. Revealed: Ornate interior of church before it was consumed by fire. 4 September.
<S5>Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 2019. Talks on future of West Norfolk church devastated by fire. 9 September.
<S6>Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 2019. Meeting considers Wimbotsham church future. 16 September.
<S7>Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 2019. Cause of West Norfolk church fire ‘may never be known’. 3 October.
<S8>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2019. Permission granted to remove historic bells from fire damaged church. 8 October.
<S9>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2020. Restoration of fire-ravaged 12th century church delayed. 2 June.
<S10>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2020. Fencing ‘modified’ at fire-destroyed church following reports of trespassers. 17 July.
<S11>Website: 2020. The Church of England Diocese of Ely - An update from St Mary's Church Wimbotsham. 20 August 2020.
<S12>Website: BBC. 2020. Abseilers remove bells from fire-ravaged Norfolk church. 20 August 2020.

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