Record Details

NHER Number:2698
Type of record:Building
Name:SS Peter's and Paul's Church, Swaffham


This large church is of flint and Barnack stone, and is largely in the Perpendicular style. The earliest surviving parts of the building are the 13th century nave quatrefoil piers and the north dooway with typical mouldings. The majority of the building was re-constructed in the 15th and early 16th centuries. In 1454 the chancel was rebuilt, in 1462 the north aisle constructed, and around 1485 the tower was begun. Inside are a number of monuments and stalls from the 16th century onwards.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 8210 0900
Map Sheet:TF80NW

Full description

Formerly (1897) a collection of 'old jugs and armour' here.
Tower begun 1507; by Robert Antell: son of John Antell who worked on Worstead church? Turret 1777. Singer's gallery erected in north aisle, entered by rood stair.
See (S1)'s idea that the pedlar legend was caused by a 'Chapman' rebus on the stalls.
E. Rose (NAU).

Autumn 1989.
Pew platforms lifted at each end of nave and in front of blocked north door. No features visible. Old ground surface not disturbed to any depth, sand dumped on top as bed for new floor formed of graveslabs laid face downwards (makers' names on reverse). In churchyard by path directly south of south transept is a stone coffin slab.
Compiled by E. Rose (NAU), 10 November 1989.

In the church (variously given as in the parvis, and above the vestry) is a complete 17th century parish library, a unique survival in the county of a once common feature. Owing to damage by damp, etc. it is to be given to the Cathedral library. It includes the Black Book of Swaffham which is the accounts of the building of the tower.
Compiled by E. Rose (NLA), 4 December 1992.

1995. Added to (S2); churchyard gates to west, cast iron about 1840-50 with gas lamp fittings and east gate of same date, brick and flint with iron gate and with dogcart gate with overthrow. These Grade II.
Compiled by E. Rose (NLA), 13 November 1995.

1996. During stripping for new toilet area 'on south side by first window past the tower.'
Outline of blocked doorway revealed, covered by ?vaulting shaft. Poor photograph shows what looks like a round-arched door outlined in voussoirs of alternate bricks and flints, and with similar brick in the blocking. The bricks do not look earlier than late medieval but appearances have been found to be very deceptive in this way. Also found were 'yellow tiles' in the walling (brick fragments?)
Information and photo from [1] who suggests this is part of the pre-1456 collapse. Detailed record of the church is needed to judge this.
Compiled by E. Rose (NLA), 18 April 1996.

Rev. Armstrong's Diary notes a service for the completion of restoration of the church on the 4th May 1854.
Information from (S3).
Compiled by E. Rose (NLA), 29 July 1997.

(S4) grades the churchyard three-star (national importance). It was extended eastwards after 1845 by demolishing the vicarage, tithe barn and pound. In 1846 the extension was fenced with iron railings by Plowrights. A well was altered to make it look like a tomb. Much ironwork was removed for salvage in 1942. An avenue of limes was planted in the old churchyard in 1709 and a second in 1762; a scaffold was kept in the church for pruning them. Avenue on south-east of yard connects with that across the Antinghams.
See (S4) for full details.
Compiled by E. Rose (NLA), 14 July 1998.

However there is a pound, listed Grade II as on south side of Mangate Street in 1996, and dated as around 1730 restored 1978. Was it the one destroyed in 1845 and now rebuilt?
Compiled by E. Rose (NLA), 16 March 1999.

(S5) in file.

J. Lodey (NLA), notes documentary references to a workhouse adjoining the tythe barn before 1845.
E. Rose (NLA), 6 September 2002.

Damage to the bells probably results from 17th century iconoclasm.
E. Rose (NLA), 1 October 2005.

This is one of the sixty five Norfolk churches selected for (S7).
D. Gurney (NLA), 17 February 2006.

Article missing from file - 1986 [Jo Yates, 10 September 2010].

Monument Types

  • HOUSE (Unknown date)
  • POUND (Unknown date)
  • CHURCH (Medieval to 21st Century - 1066 AD? to 2100 AD)
  • TITHE BARN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CHURCHYARD (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • LIBRARY (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WORKHOUSE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • COFFIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building
  • Listed Building
  • Listed Building
  • Listed Building
  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TF8208 B,C,D,K.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Monograph: Cooper, T.. 2001. The journal of William Dowsing: iconoclasm in East Anglia during the English Civil War..
---Article in Serial: Cattermole, P. and Cotton, S. 1983. Medieval Parish Church Building in Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXXVIII Pt III pp 235-279.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. A town where history and innovation go hand in hand. 2 February.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, W. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 677-679; Pl 37.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1987. Church restoration starts at the top - Urgent series of repairs. 8 September.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1988. Shedding a whole new light on church nave. 9 August.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1992. Vandals mount church roof. 20 March.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1993. [Articles on the funding for the restoration work at SS Peter's and Paul's Church, Swaffham]. 3 August.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1994. Pagans church - picture.. 19 May.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1994. Up among the angels to save church beauty - Major project of restoration. 5 August.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1996. £34,000 plan for church.. 12 January.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1997. Thieves steal Pedlar's dog carving. 10 January.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 2000. Drugs den discovered in churchyard. 19 September.
---Leaflet: 1968. Saint Peter & Saint Paul, Swaffham..
---Leaflet: Mash, N.. 1968. Saints Peter and Paul church, Swaffham: pictoral guide..
---Article in Serial: Williams J. F. 1965. The Black Book of Swaffham. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXXIII pp 243-253.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. Man in the know on our heritage.. 30 April.
---Leaflet: John H Pink. 1980. SS. Peter & Paul Swaffham. W.J.Coe.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. Cracking appeal means work can start on church. 7 November.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Unpublished Contractor Report: Bates, S. 2016. Report on Archaeological Monitoring. The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Swaffham, Norfolk. Sarah Bates (Archaeological Consultant). 24.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2014. New windows shed light on church’s beauty. 11 June.
---Monograph: Bryant, T. H. 1903. Hundred of South Greenhoe. The Churches of Norfolk. Vol XII. pp 250-281.
<S1>Serial: Blomefield, F. 1807. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk. Vol VI.
<S2>Designation: English Heritage. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1077319.
<S3>Publication: Armstrong, H. B. J (ed). 1949. A Norfolk Diary. Passages from the Diary of The Rev. Benjamin John Armstrong. p 20.
<S4>Unpublished Document: Taigel, A. 1997. Norfolk Gardens Trust: Town Gardens Survey - Volume One. Norfolk Gardens Trust.
<S5>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1986. Pews hide views. 5 July.
<S7>Publication: Jenkins, S. 2000. England's Thousand Best Churches.

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