© The Docking Benefice The Vicarage, Sedgeford Road, Docking PE31 8PN Telephone: 01485 517157
The Docking Benefice

Bircham

The Church of St. Mary, the Virgin, Great Bircham

This church was built in the early 14th century, starting with the chancel about 1300, and following on with all the nave and tower, which could have been completed about 1345. It is possible that the Norman doorway at the entrance to the tower was relocated when an older church was rebuilt. It has a typical Norman zig-zag pattern around the arch – but is unusual in that it forms a pointed arch rather than the more typical rounded Norman doorway.

The North porch was added in the

15th century and has some nice

features – including the builder’s

mark included in one of the shields

that are set either side of the

entranceway.

At the East end of the North aisle, to the right of the organ, you will find a doorway that leads up a stairway that would have taken you out onto the old rood screen. If you look at the stonework at the base of the pillars there you will find some interesting marks – a cross and a spoon shaped indentation – that our architects are still puzzling over today. In the floor in front of our beautifully carved 17th century pulpit you can find an old stone ‘mensa’. We think that this would have been the stone altar used in the church before the Reformation. If you look carefully you can still spot two crosses carved into the stone’s surface. The chancel was built in around 1300 but was added to over the years. The window was rebuilt in the restoration of 1850 and the roof with its carved heads was put in at the same time. The three seat sedilia and piscina date from the 1400s and the wooden altar table with carved bulbous legs dates to 1640. If you look up at the windows in the South side of the chancel you will see that one of them has a heraldic shield marked out in stained glass. This is the shield of the Clare family who were patrons of the church in the 1300s. The font is made of Purbeck marble and dates from the 1200s. It stands beneath the great West window which was fitted in 1883 and includes some beautiful images of flowers and vines along with verses of scripture. The South East corner of the churchyard is kept by the War Graves Commission and contains “The Cross of Sacrifice” which was unveiled by King George VI on 14th July, 1946. This was the first war memorial for the 1939-45 War to be completed and dedicated, and commemorates sixty-six Allied servicemen (mostly airmen), including some from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. There are also graves of one Aircraftwoman and eleven Germans here.

The Bells & Bell Ringers of St Mary's Church, Great Bircham

The bells are hung in an oak frame dating from 1878, strengthened with steel tie rods added in 1923. Below the frame are the original medieval beams. The ring is unusual in that the bells are hung "anticlockwise" i.e. with the order reversed to that found in most other towers We get a great deal of enjoyment from our ringing (it is addictive!) and visiting other towers for their practices or services.  The local ringing towers of St Nicholas at Dersingham, St Mary at North Creake, The Minster at Kings Lynn, St Mary at Holme-next-the-Sea, St James at Castle Acre, and St Faiths at Gaywood offer strong support as well as good friendship. We are also members of a wider group, The Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers. Ringing is a sport for all ages and talents (absolutely no musical ability required). Ringers are part of a huge family covering England, parts of Wales and Scotland, New England USA, Canada, Australia and other countries that have old English churches - in fact anywhere that the ancient art of full circle bell ringing is practised. Many ringers use their skills to visit towers to ring when on holiday and ‘get to meet the locals’. We practice every Thursday evening from 7 pm to 9 pm, with our own members and any visitors from other towers or holidaymakers. If you wish to join us for service ringing or practise night, please email Tower Captain (mcphrsncln@aol.com) so you don’t have a wasted journey, as we will not practise if we don’t have enough ringers. You will always be most welcome. We ring for ½ hr before morning services and sometimes for other services. We ring before and after weddings with much enthusiasm (it is the only time we get paid for ringing!) If requested, we ring all the bells 'half muffled' for funerals. When muffled the bells are padded with thick leather on one side of the clapper) which gives a deep resonant echo on alternate strokes. As the coffin is carried up the path to the church the Tenor alone is tolled.

Directions to St Mary, the Virgin, Great Bircham

Contacts

Church Wardens William Bennion Michael Lancefield Ian Watts Treasurers Michael Lancefield Sheila Sargent PCC Secretary Rosalie McPherson Any enquiries please contact Michael Lancefield T: 01485 518073

Information

Postcode: PE31 6XS Church Lane Great Bircham
© The Docking Benefice The Vicarage, Sedgeford Road, Docking PE31 8PN Telephone: 01485 517157
The Docking Benefice

Bircham

The Church of St. Mary, the

Virgin, Great Bircham

This church was built in the early 14th century, starting with the chancel about 1300, and following on with all the nave and tower, which could have been completed about 1345. It is possible that the Norman doorway at the entrance to the tower was relocated when an older church was rebuilt. It has a typical Norman zig-zag pattern around the arch – but is unusual in that it forms a pointed arch rather than the more typical rounded Norman doorway.

The North porch was added

in the 15th century and has

some nice features –

including the builder’s mark

included in one of the

shields that are set either side of the entranceway.

At the East end of the North aisle, to the right of the organ, you will find a doorway that leads up a stairway that would have taken you out onto the old rood screen. If you look at the stonework at the base of the pillars there you will find some interesting marks – a cross and a spoon shaped indentation – that our architects are still puzzling over today. In the floor in front of our beautifully carved 17th century pulpit you can find an old stone ‘mensa’. We think that this would have been the stone altar used in the church before the Reformation. If you look carefully you can still spot two crosses carved into the stone’s surface. The chancel was built in around 1300 but was added to over the years. The window was rebuilt in the restoration of 1850 and the roof with its carved heads was put in at the same time. The three seat sedilia and piscina date from the 1400s and the wooden altar table with carved bulbous legs dates to 1640. If you look up at the windows in the South side of the chancel you will see that one of them has a heraldic shield marked out in stained glass. This is the shield of the Clare family who were patrons of the church in the 1300s. The font is made of Purbeck marble and dates from the 1200s. It stands beneath the great West window which was fitted in 1883 and includes some beautiful images of flowers and vines along with verses of scripture. The South East corner of the churchyard is kept by the War Graves Commission and contains “The Cross of Sacrifice” which was unveiled by King George VI on 14th July, 1946. This was the first war memorial for the 1939-45 War to be completed and dedicated, and commemorates sixty-six Allied servicemen (mostly airmen), including some from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. There are also graves of one Aircraftwoman and eleven Germans here.

The Bells & Bell Ringers of St Mary's Church,

Great Bircham

The bells are hung in an oak frame dating from 1878, strengthened with steel tie rods added in 1923. Below the frame are the original medieval beams. The ring is unusual in that the bells are hung "anticlockwise" i.e. with the order reversed to that found in most other towers We get a great deal of enjoyment from our ringing (it is addictive!) and visiting other towers for their practices or services.  The local ringing towers of St Nicholas at Dersingham, St Mary at North Creake, The Minster at Kings Lynn, St Mary at Holme-next- the-Sea, St James at Castle Acre, and St Faiths at Gaywood offer strong support as well as good friendship. We are also members of a wider group, The Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers. Ringing is a sport for all ages and talents (absolutely no musical ability required). Ringers are part of a huge family covering England, parts of Wales and Scotland, New England USA, Canada, Australia and other countries that have old English churches - in fact anywhere that the ancient art of full circle bell ringing is practised. Many ringers use their skills to visit towers to ring when on holiday and ‘get to meet the locals’. We practice every Thursday evening from 7 pm to 9 pm, with our own members and any visitors from other towers or holidaymakers. If you wish to join us for service ringing or practise night, please email Tower Captain (mcphrsncln@aol.com) so you don’t have a wasted journey, as we will not practise if we don’t have enough ringers. You will always be most welcome. We ring for ½ hr before morning services and sometimes for other services. We ring before and after weddings with much enthusiasm (it is the only time we get paid for ringing!) If requested, we ring all the bells 'half muffled' for funerals. When muffled the bells are padded with thick leather on one side of the clapper) which gives a deep resonant echo on alternate strokes. As the coffin is carried up the path to the church the Tenor alone is tolled.

Directions to St Mary, the Virgin, Great

Bircham

Contacts

Church Wardens William Bennion Michael Lancefield Ian Watts Treasurers Michael Lancefield Sheila Sargent PCC Secretary Rosalie McPherson Any enquiries please contact Michael Lancefield T: 01485 518073

Information

Postcode: PE31 6XS Church Lane Great Bircham