History of St Mary's

The town of Stalham is entered in the Doomsday Book of 1084-86. The family of De Stalham held the Lordship of the Manor after the Norman Conquest. Around 1380 the Maid’s Head was built to house the workmen who were to build the present Church. The Church was built around 1400, probably on the site of an earlier building.

A prayer upon entering the church:

Father, as we turn aside from the busy world 
with its clamour and distractions, 
quieten our hearts in your presence, 
that we may be still and know you are God, 
our God, now and for ever; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Plan of St. Mary's Church Stalham

1. Holy Water Stoup: 
This is just inside the main door on your right. It was used to remind people of their baptism upon entering and leaving the church People would place a finger into the water and make a sign of the cross over themselves.

2. The Lady Chapel: 
The main feature here is the East Window which features not only our patron Saint but also some of the words of The Magnificat. As you face the window, to the right is a ‘piscina’ (a stone basin in which a priest rinsed the chalice and paten after the Eucharist) this was restored in 1863.

3. The hagioscopes: 
These are ‘squints’ which give a view into the Chancel either side of the Chancel arch. These were re-opened in 1863. Originally there would have been a Rood Screen separating the Chancel from the congregation, and these hagioscopes would have allowed people to view what was happening at the altar.

4. The Chancel: 
The Chancel was rebuilt in 1822. The East window contains a stained glass view of The Last Supper, with three scenes of Jesus after the last supper: Praying in The Garden of Gethsemane; Trial before Pilate; Carrying the Cross to Calvary. The stained glass was put in place in 1866. On the right-hand wall is a section of the original Rood Screen, containing five panels, saved from the original twelve. They depict: St. Andrew, with a cross saltire St. Thomas of Canterbury, holding a cross St. Edward, holding a sceptre in his right hand St. Edmund, with a sceptre and arrow St. Roche, showing a plague spot on his thigh The tomb in the Sanctuary is of Katherine, married first to John Riches and, when widowed, Rev’d William Smyth.

5. The North Aisle: 
The stone steps here once led to the top of the Rood Screen. The screen was removed in 1827. 

6. The Tower: 
The tower is about 70 feet in height. The Belfry has fallen but when and how is not known. Legend has it there was formally a peal of bells which were sold to Dutch merchants. As they sailed from Happisburgh to Holland the vessel was lost; it is said that before a storm the solemn tolling of the Stalham bells can still be heard! The tower is now the Memorial area as it hold the War Memorials to those lost in the First World War, Second World War and The Falklands Conflict. The West Window contains a depiction of the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. This was placed here in 1920.

7. The Font 
This is recognised as one of the finest. During the unsettled times of the Reformation it was buried in the Church floor to save it from destruction. It was discovered in 1964 and restored to its present condition. Around the basin are depictions of The Baptism of Christ, the Mercy Seat, and the twelve apostles. The pedestal contains eight depictions of Christian Kings.

8. The Porch 
This was extensively renovated in 1872. The side windows were opened and glazed and ‘skeleton’ iron gates were added.

Outside of the building:

9. Going from the Porch 
Turn to your left and look at the second buttress; at head height you will notice a finger dial.

10. Carved Figures 
Then retrace your steps, past the porch, around the West window, and follow the path towards the church rooms, you will discover a carving of a triple head at the end of the North aisle, and above it a carving of a bears head.

A prayer as you leave:

May God sustain you in all your works 
and in all your ways; 
make you humble, just and true; 
strengthen you in holiness and righteousness; 
and fill your home with love and peace; 
through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Amen.



Rectors of Stalham

1149 Jocelin (Shown as"Gotcelinus De Stalham"
c. 1162.  Witness to quit claim by Robert de Valenis
1640 Henry Dickenson (Paston 1645, Maidstone 1667)
1186 Thomas of Walton (till 1200) 1642 Edward Greene (Brunstead 1640)
1247 Peter de Acle 1656 John Benton (Wramplington 1612. Dunham Magna 1660)
  William de Ludham 1658 John Lucas
  Alan Thornton   1671 Edmind Shilling
1290 Opizo de Castellis. (Appealed to pope over 
dispute with Abbot Nicholas of St. Benet
of Holme. Abbot Nicolas excommunicated
for contumacy in not appearing in Rome to answer charges against him.
Held important posts at the vatican).  
1681 Andrew Thexton (Smallburgh 1681)
1301 Bartholomew de Ferentino (At Walsingham 1286)   1713 Richard Ordin
1302 Andrew de Ferentino   1730 Timothy Jones (Paston 1725, Felbrigg
1736, Metton 1738, Aylemerton 1741)
1332 Thomas Fastolf (At Haylesdon 1331.
Archdeacon of Norwich 1340)  
1736 James Taylor (St. Benedicts Norwich, 1734. Lammas 1738)
   Laurence Falstof   1738 William Rubbock
1349  Richard de Thoresby 1742 Richard Chase (Hemstead 1742.
Ellingham 1746)
1352  Roger de Holm (Castle Acre Priory Geyton) 1744 William Addins
1352 Robert de Stratton (Blofield 1350. Batchelor
of Laws. Norwich)
1801 Benjamin Cubitt
    1843 James White
  Vicars 1852 J. N. White
1352 Robert Borewode (or Burghwode) de Aylesham   1901 F. E. Longe
1355 Simon ad Pontem de Baugngham   1910 F. R. Wilberforce
1366 John Styward (Winston 1363. Attilney
1380 of Watlington)  
1912 E. M. Plumtre
1388 John de Harpele (Worton 1355 by Isabel, Queen of England) 1914 M. C. Wallis
1399  William Houlot   1921 E. T. A. Parker
1402 William Coupere de Watton       
1440 William West   Stalham with Brunstead
14?? William Burton (perhaps West)   1925 E. T. A. Parker
1451 John Walters   1930 C. V. Edwards
1460  John Phelypp (Middleton 1406. Ludham
1462. Canon of West Derham 1472)  
1937 H. Woodfield
1462 Richard Fraunceys  1946 W. W. Pulford
1482  Thomas Herte (Haringby 1448)  1957 D. F. Crissop
1497 John Frampton (Moulton 1505)   1970 Canon D. Gwyn Blyth
1505 Ralph Bockyng     
1531 John Kelsale     Stalham and East Ruston with Brunstead
1555 Richard Company 1977 Canon D. Gwyn Blyth
  Robert Some  1991 Anthony C. Billett
1592 John Riches alias Tryttshall     
1624 Robert Gill   Rector of Stalham, East Ruston, Brunstead, Sutton and Ingham
1630 Daniel Clayton (or Claydon). Catfield 1638 2000 Anthony C. Billett
  Robert Browne (At West Tofts 1616. Hitcham 1661) 2002 David R. Anderson
  James Culthorpe 2007 Simon P. Lawrence


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