10 things you didn’t know about... Wymondham Abbey

The Rev Catherine Relf-Pennington has become the first female vicar of Wymondham Abbey. Picture: WYM

The Rev Catherine Relf-Pennington has become the first female vicar of Wymondham Abbey. Picture: WYMONDHAM ABBEY - Credit: Archant

The historic church has appointed its first female vicar, Rev Catherine Relf-Pennington, in its 910-year history. Here are some surprising facts about the place of worship.

Wymondham Abbey. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Wymondham Abbey. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Submitted

1. Founded in 1107 as a Benedictine monastery, the church you see today was always the town's parish church. The monk's half fell into ruin after Henry VIII disbanded the monasteries and grabbed their wealth.

2. There is a pelican at the foot of the big cross on the 'rood', high above the main altar.

3. There is a 'burse' on show in the Abbey that is one of the oldest pieces of embroidery in Britain.

4. The magnificent main organ cost £687 in 1793 and arrived on a cart. The price included beer for the carters.

A Shakespeare dance day at Wymondham Abbey in 2016. Pictured are Chris Gill and Susan Golt. Picture:

A Shakespeare dance day at Wymondham Abbey in 2016. Pictured are Chris Gill and Susan Golt. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt


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5. The Abbey still has its original Parish Bible (in the authorised King James version, published in 1611 and issued to every parish in the kingdom). The Abbey version dates from 1613 and is held in the Abbey's archives.

6. When the new development was opened in 2015, it was the first time the Abbey had had toilets since 1538.

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7. The original building, started in 1107, was made with pre-cut stone from Caen in France. The stone was brought up the River Tiffey by barge. Norwich Cathedral also uses stone from Caen.

8. The magnificent screen behind the main alter was erected in 1921 as a memorial to the people of Wymondham killed in the Great War. It was not gilded - covered in gold leaf - until 1934.

Wymondham Abbey head churchwarden Bernard Douglass with Catherine Relf-Pennington, the next vicar of

Wymondham Abbey head churchwarden Bernard Douglass with Catherine Relf-Pennington, the next vicar of the church. Picture: WYMONDHAM ABBEY - Credit: Archant

9. The date 1573 and initials RE - Regina Elizabeth - can be seen on the outside at the very top of the north wall. It commemorates work funded by Queen Elizabeth 1.

10. The Abbey's West tower is 45m - 148ft - high and is a prominent Norfolk landmark. Pilots in both World Wars used it to find their way back to Norfolk airfields.

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