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Redundant medieval church to hold first service in decades

PUBLISHED: 14:15 23 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:15 23 August 2018

A service will be held in September at St Mary's Church, Fordham. Picture: Ian Burt

A service will be held in September at St Mary's Church, Fordham. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A redundant medieval church tucked away in a small, rural idyll will be holding a service for the first time in decades.

The modestly-sized St Mary’s Church in Fordham is easy to miss - it is located on an unnamed street off the A10, between Hilgay and Denver, where peacocks roam under the shadow of the tall trees.

Only a handful of houses are dotted along the quiet street which once served as the A10 around 40 years ago.

A tower once stood tall beside the 14th century church but after it had fallen down by the late 18th century the church was rebuilt and reduced in size.

John Vigar inside the 14th century St Mary's Church at Fordham. Picture: Ian BurtJohn Vigar inside the 14th century St Mary's Church at Fordham. Picture: Ian Burt

The nave and chancel are built from carrstone in varying shades of brown which was locally sourced from Hunstanton and Downham Market.

The church is fortunate in still having most of its fittings, including a notice which gives directions as to how to behave in church and an ornate gravestone which once belonged to a dignitary.

With fewer people living in the village the church stopped holding regular service and was made redundant in 1992.

A service will be held in September at St Mary's Church, Fordham. Picture: Ian BurtA service will be held in September at St Mary's Church, Fordham. Picture: Ian Burt

Initial plans to convert the historic building into housing was thwarted by a group of local residents and the church is now under the care of national charity Friends of the Friendless Churches.

Of the 50 churches they own across the country, the Fordham church is the only Norfolk church they look after.

Charity trustee John Vigar said: “This church reflects the stories of the people who lived here, who were baptised here and married here. 
“It holds the memories of history.”

John Vigar inside the 14th century St Mary's Church at Fordham. Picture: Ian BurtJohn Vigar inside the 14th century St Mary's Church at Fordham. Picture: Ian Burt

The charity has helped to prevent the church from falling into total ruin and regularly keep the graveyard tidy and the building watertight.

They are hoping an evening service, to be held on Sunday, September 2 at 6pm, will help renew interest in the church and garner public support for its maintenance.

Mr Vigar added: “We’d love to get people to help us look after it and hold a service annually.

A service will be held in September at St Mary's Church, Fordham. Picture: Ian BurtA service will be held in September at St Mary's Church, Fordham. Picture: Ian Burt

“We want to show people it’s still here and we are looking after it and want to put it back on the map.”



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