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St Edmund's Church History

Please take a look at the  Upper Wensum Benefit website

for more interesting information about the church, with Service Schedule and opening times

The church is a small building mostly in the Early English style. There are narrow lancet windows and there is a Priest’s door on the south side of the chancel. The Nave and Chancel are of the same width and separated by a carved screen. The roof was lead covered. The 14th century font is octagonal, having carved Shields with Castles triple towered. The Castells, or de Castells were sub-tenants of the Manor here. The organ is now in the chancel the nave having had two vestries constructed where the organ used to stand. The harmonium was sold and an organ bought from Bodium Manor House, Sussex in 1946 at a cost of £146.00 as a celebration of victory. The list of Rectors dates from 1302, Richard de Hedersede – by Nicholas de Castello and Cecilia his wife. The oldest register dates back to 1541.


Drawing by Ladbroke 1823

There were three bells in the 6th year of Edward V1 one inscribed ‘Iohn Brend made me 1635’ and four in the square tower in 1784. This tower fell on a Sunday after the Service on June 1st 1796 and was never rebuilt. Some of the old foundations still remain on either side of the pathway leading to the Church.

Churchwardens Bill 1797

An Estimation of the expense of Repairs [ ? ] to be done to the Church in the Parish of Horningtoft made this 29th Day of May 1797 by Thos Neal Junr. 
This is a photograph of the original, which is held in the Norfolk Records Office, Norwich. 


Churchwardens Bill 1797

Further restoration work took place in the late 1860’s early 1870’s, the Steeple on the South side being removed and the roof reconstructed with pin tiles. On the Terrier for 1933 there is a note at the bottom.
According to an old book of the Churchwardens the Old Church Bell was sold to Warner & Son on the 21st Feb 1870 for the sum of £12.15.7 which sum was applied in helping with the Restoration of the Church which was carried out (according to the same book) about that date Warner & Son supplied the new bell for the sum of £7.16.10 as shown in the aforesaid Churchwardens book.

more information will be addeds about documents and photos from Lambeth Palace


From the diary of B J Armstrong 20 April 1870
Went to the reopening of Horningtoft Church, after being all but rebuilt. The difference in the church now to what it was when I preached there many years ago is striking indeed. The ancient screen is repainted and gilded; there are beautiful seats; a proper altar with Cross, vases and candlesticks. The choristers, having three banners, and clergy, all in white stoles, proceeded from a neighbouring farmhouse singing “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” The collection amounted to £17. It is wonderful what can be done in a small place where the incumbent has taste and energy and where there are no obstructives to hinder!


In 1951 electric light was installed in the Church, in the place of the old coke stove there are six cowl fires. The Parochial Church Council gave the old oil lamps to Keswick Church. (Terrier 1955).


In the 1970s the Church was threatened with closure but with grants the roof was repaired again, floor was replaced, old pews removed from the nave and replaced with chairs and decorated inside with villagers helping with the work. This is the only meeting place in the village and is used for Parish Council Meetings and events to raise money for the church, Christmas bazaasr, Barn Dances, Harvest Suppers and a Beetle Drive, are just some.


The north and part of the west of the churchyard was enclosed by large Leylandii which were cut down in December 1999 and the Millennium project raised money to remove the stumps and repair and extend the wall which lies at the west end. It is now once again possible to see the Church from the road.

A Heritage Society was formed and a grant was secured from the Local Heritage Initiative and an award from the Nationwide Building Society for historical research and the churchyard wall restoration. A Heritage Weekend was held in June 2001 and again in 2003, much of the information collected for these events is available in the church, which is open during the day, and on this web site.

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