Bessingham Church Buildings
The Church is dedicated to St Mary the Virgin and can be dated back to the late 11th century, although some parts are thought to be Saxon because of the triangular bell openings.
The round tower is probably one of the oldest in the county. The round tower has several features from the Saxo-Norman over-lap period. The nave has aisles on both sides. Above the arches are curious carved stone faces as well as others on the outside of the building. The Decorative-period chancel has an elegant east window with reticulated tracery.
The building is Saxon, probably c. 1050. The high, narrow windows and twin pointed lights confirm this dating.
The tower houses two bells, one known to date from 1450, but with no inscription and the other inscribed, “Charles Newman made mee – 1699”.
The Saxon arch leads into the nave. What we see today dates back to a major refurbishment in 1869 when the arch-braced roof was installed. The font dates back to the 14th Century and is very plain by Norfolk standards. The two memorial windows, in the South wall, dedicated to the Spurrell family are dated 1897 and 1906 and were made by Charles Kempe. The modern East window, by J Powell & Son, depicts Christ as King surrounded by the angelic host. The challenge is to count the angels and cherubim!
The Medieval chancel screen and turret-stair have gone but the blocked door to the latter survives on the south side. Originally there was a south chapel and a northern chamber to the chancel. The blocked entrance door to the latter and a piscina now on the outside wall can still be seen.
Uniquely the appearance of this church in the 16th century was recorded in a legal document.
The stained-glass windows by Charles Kempe and J Powell & Son are particularly noteworthy.
To see a video clip of the church, please click below
Points of Interest
Worthy of note during your visit are:
- The Round Tower
- The delightful stained-glass east window. How many angels can you count?
- Commemorative stained glass windows on the South Side.