St Mary

Forncett-St-Mary-2008Jun27St. Mary's church is mentioned in the Domesday Book, and was built on the original site of Forncett. The Nave is probably 13th or 14th Century, the Tower 15th Century, and the Nave originally had a thatched roof. The church was restored by Revd J.Cooper 1869 -1870. In 1980 a decision was taken to close St. Mary's, due to falling numbers in the congregation, and the furnishings were stripped out. There were many schemes for the church over the next few years, but it was eventually allowed to become overgrown and derelict.

Please read on!

St Mary's Church this summer

Written by May Prior on .

Following a successful grant award to St. Mary's from English Heritage/Heritage Lottery last year, architect Nicholas Warns has completed the development stage of surveys, quotes and plans, and the restoration work is scheduled to take place this year between April and September. This will include replacing the Nave and Office windows, flint repairs, cleaning the interior wooden roof, and new drains and gutters. Events will be difficult to organise while the work is being carried out, but we are hoping that the following will take place:

Tuesday 25th March, 7p.m. - Service for the Festival of the Annunciation

Saturday 16th August 7.30p.m. - Popular jazz band DixieMix are back for another foot tapping performance. Sure to be a sell out!

Saturday 18th October - Craft Fair, 11am -3p.m.

Forncett History Group is producing a book of commemoration for the men from Forncett who lost their lives in both World Wars, and a timeline depicting major events in WW1 will be displayed in St. Mary's Church - renovation permitting - or St Peter's.

For enquiries about any events, or church opening times, please contact Graham and May Prior 01508 481856 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Carols by Candlelight at St Mary's

Written by May Prior on .

imageimageimageimageimage
artsexylightbox

photos by Sarah Prior
(click for slide show)

Over 100 people enjoyed carols and lessons in St Mary's church on 6th December and the Dolce choir, led by their musical director Philip Aldred, performed five seasonal songs, including 'In the Bleak Midwinter', 'Shepherd's Pipe Carol', and everyone's favourite, 'O Holy Night'.

Mulled wine and mince pies were served in the village hall after the service.

Forncett Craft Fair 2013

Written by May Prior on .

imageimageimageimageimage
artsexylightbox

photographs by Sarah Prior
(click pic for slide show)

Over 150 visitors enjoyed Forncett's 3rd craft fair held in St. Mary's church on 19th October. Soup and rolls proved very popular for refreshments and the stall holders all reported brisk business, with Ruth Walker selling out of her lovely hand painted cards very quickly.

Thanks to everyone who helped organise and run the event, and the ladies who baked cakes and biscuits to sell. £472 was raised for St. Mary's and St Peter's churches.

Cream Tea at St Mary's

Written by May Prior on .

imageimageimageimageimage
artsexylightbox

Click pic for slide show

Over 60 people enjoyed cream teas in St. Mary's church on Sunday 18th August. Thanks to everyone who very generously donated scones, jam, tea, coffee, milk, and cash for me to buy clotted cream, and a special thank you to Mike and Jan Smail, for their help in organising, and providing all the crockery, cutlery, teapots, pretty pink tablecloths, and anti-histamine cream for a wasp sting!

With a raffle and sale of books and bric-a-brac we raised £257 for funds.

The architect's plans for the remaining restoration work on the church are now on display in the church - work should begin in April 2014.

Chester Organ Recital, St Mary's Church

Written by Richard Ball on .

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage
artsexylightbox

Click pic for slide show
Photos: Richard Ball

Richard Bower, organ builder and Director of Music at St Nicholas, Dereham, gave a lively and very enjoyable organ recital on the the theme of Fine and Fun Organ Music, to a pretty full house at Forncett St Mary Church on 23rd August 2013.

Assisted by his wife, Barbara, Richard played his own recreation of a 1970's Hill, Norman & Beard Chester organ, and the music was selected to sound good on the limited number of pipes available. This included pieces by Susato, Bach, Handel, Boëllmann, Gordon Young, Saint-Saëns, Pietro Yon and Lefébre-Wély. I particularly enjoyed the Serenade composed by Derek Bourgeois to be his own wedding march with the express intention that no-one would be able to march down the aisle to its tempo. They might well have danced, though!

£330 was raised for the St Mary's Church Fund.

Valuation Day at St. Mary's Church

Written by May Prior on .

imageimageimageimageimage
artsexylightbox

Click pic for slide show
Photos: Sarah Prior

A steady stream of visitors attended the Valuation Day on 20th July with a wide variety of items for senior valuers Roy Murphy and Andrew Bullock to inspect and value.
Clocks, books, jewellery, paintings, silver, and a large coin collection were among the items brought along, and along with Forncett residents there were people from Norwich, Wymondham, and a couple from Diss who said they have been following the story of the church's restoration and wanted to come and see it for themselves.

Thanks to Ann Lorne, Joan Ward and Andree Handford for serving  refreshments, Florrie Freeman, Jenny Jordan and Barbara Jackson for manning the door and making sure people got to see the right valuer for their specific items, and everyone who donated homemade goodies for refreshments.

£268 was raised for church funds.

Dixiemix a sell out

Written by May Prior on .

imageimageimageimage
artsexylightbox
Click pic for slideshow

A capacity crowd enjoyed DixieMix jazz band performing in St. Mary's church on 15th June, and £730 was raised to split between St. Mary's and St. Peter's churches.

Good turnout for Forncett Auto Jumble

Written by May Prior on .

imageimageimageimage
artsexylightbox
Click pic for slideshow

Around 150 car enthusiasts attended the 3rd Forncett Autojumble on May 12th at the Forncett Steam Museum. 

Trading was under way well before the official start time of 10 am with motorists out early for the best bargains. Organiser Philip Yull was pleased with the attendance of both stallholders and customers, helping to raise funds for the Museum and Forncett St. Mary Church.

Organ in St Mary's Church

Written by May Prior on .

imageimage

Organ restorer Richard Bower has installed his recreation of a 1970's Hill, Norman & Beard Chester organ in St. Mary's  church. The organ has been brought back from loan to the Newcastle Roman Catholic Cathedral and is on temporary loan to St.Mary's. Hopefully organ recitals will follow!

St Mary's Church - English Heritage Funding grant

Written by May Prior on .

image

The 'Friends of Forncett St. Mary Church' are celebrating a successful bid for English Heritage/Heritage Lottery funding. The Church will receive an initial £18,000 for project development works and reports, and a 2nd stage grant of £148,000 for repairs and renovation work, a total of £166,000. This should complete the remaining renovation, including replacement of Nave and Vestry windows, flint repairs, drainage and guttering.

In addition, All Churches Trust have awarded a grant of £650 towards renovation, and Norfolk Community Foundation have given a grant of £1893 to purchase new chairs. Friends Chairman Graham Prior has praised the support of the Friends group, and the work already done by a dedicated band of volunteers, which has helped to secure the funding.

A local organ restorer is investigating the possibility of installing an organ in St. Mary's. One made by Norwich organ makers Norman & Beard, similar to the original in the church, has become available and may fit. There are grants for this work. It may also be possible to install a bell in St. Mary's, again subject to grant funding.

Fund-raising events will continue in 2013. On 12th May an event for car enthusiasts, an Autojumble, will be held at Forncett Steam Museum, proceeds being split between the museum and the church. 15th June sees a welcome return for East Anglia's hottest jazz band Dixie Mix, giving a toe tapping performance in St. Mary's, and on 20th July senior valuers Roy Murphy and Andrew Bullock from Keys Auction Rooms will hold a Valuation Day, so bring along your treasures.

The church is open every day from 10a.m.-3p.m.

Any enquiries to May and Graham Prior on 01508 481856

Forncett Remembers

Written by May Prior on .

imageimage

Photos by Sarah Prior
(click to enlarge)

Around 50 people gathered at St. Mary's War Memorial on Sunday 11th November , for a short service remembering those who gave their lives in both World Wars. Quinton Spratt read the names of the fallen from Hapton, John Webster the names from St. Peter and St. Mary, and Graham Prior read a short peom, 'At Carnoy' written on 3rd July 1916 by war poet Siegfried Sassoon. A wreath was laid by Colonel Nicholas Chapman. Following this, a wreath was then laid by Gladys Mower at St. Peter's War Memorial.

Just Alex

Written by Administrator on .

image

Photos by Sarah Prior
(click to enlarge)

A performance of comic songs, violin classics, and a quiz thrown in for good measure, was given by Alex Preece in St. Mary's church on 4th November. Thanks to Alex for all her hard work preparing the programme, which helped raise £140 for the church restoration fund.

Forncett Music Festival

Written by May Prior on .

image

5 Photos by Sarah Prior
(click to enlarge)

There was standing room only for both spectacular concerts at the Forncett Music Festival, which took place from 28th to 30th September. Goldheart Assembly set up their equipment and performed around a beam engine at Forncett Steam Museum. For their encore Rowan Francis (owner and dad of Nicky, Goldheart's drummer) set the engine pumping, much to the audience's delight.

Forncett St. Mary Church rocked with the full 15 members of The Quill performing pieces from their debut album The Tower at Hunter's Moon, recorded in the church in 2010. 'The most amazing gig we've ever done' was the comment from Nicky Francis and the members of the band who are now looking for a  church in London to perform again and re-create the sound that the acoustics in St. Mary's gave them.

A special thank you to Nick and the members of The Quill for a generous donation to the church restoration fund. Both gigs were filmed and we hope to have some DVDs for sale next year.

Forncett Craft Fair

Written by May Prior on .

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage
artsexylightbox

12 photos by Richard Ball
(click to enlarge)

A range of stalls selling affordable craft items was set up in St. Mary's Church on Saturday 13th October, and the stalls were soon busy with customers browsing and buying all the very varied items on display.

Refreshments were available, and a grand total of £440 was raised to share between St. Mary's and St. Peter's Churches. The stall holders were also all pleased with their takings, and would love to come back next year, as it is such a friendly event with a really good atmosphere.

Wedding at St. Mary's

Written by May Prior on .

Photo by May Prior (click to enlarge)

The last wedding at Forncett St. Mary Church( before redundancy) took place on 25th October 1969, but on Saturday 15th September 2012 the church once again saw a wedding ceremony take place between Elizabeth Rohde and Nick Champion.

Around a hudred guests packed into a beautifully decorated church to hear Revd. Andrew Good perform the service.

The bride was brought up in Forncett St. Mary, and the couple intend to live in the village.

St. Mary's Church out of redundancy

Written by May Prior on .

graham-and-bishopA Patronal Evensong was held at St. Mary's Church on 15th August, led by Bishop Alan, Bishop of Thetford, to celebrate the church coming out of  redundancy. It will now be a Chapel of Ease to neighbouring St. Peter's Church. This will secure its future, and make it easier to obtain grant funding. An application has recently been made to English Heritage for funding to restore the remaining windows.

Photo shows Bishop Alan congratulating Graham Prior on his efforts leading the restoration project.

More fund raising events are planned for 2012. Folk group 'The Quill' are appearing on 30th Sept at 7.30p.m., a Craft Fair on 13th October with a wide variety of affordable items, and an afternoon of music by local violinist Alex Preece on 4th November.

For tickets, or further  details ring 01508 481856, or e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

St Mary - Renovation update.

Written by May Prior on .

Renovation continues at a steady rate, with work now being done in the Vestry. The wooden floor has been insulated and replaced, the ceiling insulated and boarded, and work begun on storage cupboards and shelves to house archive material and parish records.  New electric heaters were installed in the main church in October.

The plan to take St. Mary's out of redundancy is also moving along, with the PCC, the Diocese of Norwich, and the Church Commissioners all giving their approval. The church will still be used for various community events, and services when required.

Progress continues at St. Mary's Church

Written by Graham Prior on .

The New West WindowThe remaining two windows in the Chancel, and the Tower West window have been replaced by workmen from Devlin Plummer Stained Glass specialists.

The Nave and Vestry windows have had the broken glass and wooden boarding taken out, and clear sheets of Perspex have been fitted, letting in the light and make the church look less derelict. The Perspex is a temporary measure until the money can be raised to have the stonework repaired and glass replaced, and has a lifespan of many years.

The porch walls have had flint repairs, and a wooden ceiling fitted on the inside. The inner walls await lime plastering when some markings/drawings have been investigated.

The North and South doors have been repaired, and a screen with door in it built at the bottom of the Tower entrance.

Fund-raising continues by the Friends of St. Mary's, now 130 in number.

Two New Windows for St Mary's Church

Written by May Prior on .

Two more windows were replaced in St. Mary's Church on 20th April. This completes all the windows in the Chancel.

It is hoped the Tower West window will be replaced during May and the four Nave windows will have clear perspex fitted to let in more light. Fund raising efforts continue with £280 raised recently from a Table top sale, and £115 from a coffee morning.

Second New Window for St Mary's Church

Written by on .

St Mary South Chancel WindowThe second window in St Mary's Church to be replaced is the South Window in the Chancel. This was completed just before Christmas. 

Chris Moore and Tyrone Towers from Devlin Plummer, the stained glass window experts, have placed the glass and pointed up on the inside. Project leader Graham Prior is hopeful that the Vestry windows, the Chancel windows, and the Tower West window will be replaced during 2011, even though a number of Charitable Trust for Community projects so far approached for funding do not consider windows an essential part of a community centre and have refused help.

First New Window for St. Mary's Church

Written by May Prior on .

East Window Forncett St MaryThe Chancel East window is the first one to be replaced in St. Mary's Church as part of the ongoing restoration work. Chris Moore and Tyrone Towers from Devlin Plummer, the stained glass window experts, have been placing the glass and pointing up on the inside during the week of the 29th November 2010.

A Remembrance Rose

Written by May Prior on .

Forncett resident Suzie Rohde planted a "Remembrance" rose on the war grave of Thomas Green in St. Mary's churchyard in time for Remembrance Sunday, November 14 2010 .

CPRE Award for St Mary's Church

Written by May Prior on .

CPRE PlaqueThe Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has given Graham Prior and St. Mary's Church an award for the restoration work carried out so far. The CPRE normally only gives awards to finished projects but the judges were so impressed with the Church and the fact that it is already being used for Community events they decided to give the award this year.

Rock On!

Written by May Prior on .

Dan Bell at the control deskFor eight days in August, St. Mary's church was transformed into a recording studio by Nick Francis and his folk band 'Quill.'  They were taking advantage of the amazing acoustics in the church to record his compositions for their debut album.  The band said it was 'inspiring' to make music in the church - away from London, in the peace of the Tas Valley.