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Guide reveals history of Norfolk churches dating from 7th century

PUBLISHED: 09:05 10 March 2014 | UPDATED: 09:05 10 March 2014

Hemblington church

Hemblington church


The latest edition of a guide providing details about more than 500 churches across Norfolk and Waveney has been published.

Some of the facts ...

The oldest church is at Cranwich, where parts of the building date back to the 7th century

The nurse Edith Cavell grew up in Swardeston and is commemorated in the east window at St Mary the Virgin church in Swardeston.

St Margaret’s Church at Tivetshall St Margaret boasts a Queen Elizabeth I tympanum seen on David Dimbleby’s 7 stages of Britain.

The church of St Michael the Archangel at Booton was designed by a descendant of Pocahontas.

The Diocese of Norwich Open Churches Booklet gives not just opening times for the churches, but also interesting facts about the buildings themselves and the communities they serve.

For instance, few may be aware that, weather permitting, it is possible to see at least another two churches from most church towers, while the oldest church is at Cranwich, with parts dating back to the 7th century.

One church at Horning can be reached by river, while at Caistor St Edmund the parish church of St Edmund’s lies within the old Roman town.

There are five octagonal church towers in the diocese – two of which are featured in the booklet (Toft Monks and Old Buckenham).

Also mentioned are rood screens which are a rare survivor of the medieval ages.

These are screens that separate the chancel from the nave and in Norfolk tend to be painted with images of the saints. Churches at Barton Turf, Ranworth and Cawston provide particularly good examples of this.

Caroline Rawlings, a tourism and open churches officer at the diocese, said: “Each church has got its own unique history and that is what makes it so interesting.

“It is not just early history, it is right the way through centuries of history.”

Speaking about the booklet, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James said: “The great majority of our churches are open regularly on weekdays as well as Sundays, so everyone can be confident of finding the churches in this booklet open, many with activities of different sorts taking place.

“Our church buildings are treasure stores from the past that are also treasures in the present in the communities they serve and as places in which the worship and praise of God still takes place week in, week out.”

The booklet is available at 
tourist information centres, many tourist attractions, museums and libraries and can be downloaded from

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