St Mary the Virgin, Sedgeford
St Mary’s Sedgeford is one of the largest of the Norfolk Round Tower Churches and is a Grade 1 listed building.
Churches with Round Towers were built from Saxon times but for Sedgeford, most opinions now favour a later date. Both stages of the Tower, Nave and Chancel were probably all built at the same time in the late 13th Century.
Before the Reformation of 1534 the Church was in the care of the Prior and Monks of Norwich Priory. There are no written records about the Church building until 1780, when the Chancel was shortened, after the collapse of the east end of the Chancel. The Priest’s door seen in the south wall near the corner, shows how much the Chancel was shortened, for the usual position for such a door would be about halfway along.
The Font is 13th century Norman style with a square bowl of Purbeck marble. This is the oldest part of the church. By 1841 the church had become so dilapidated that the congregation had to use their umbrellas inside the church and it needed a restoration programme. This took place in 1882, resulting in a new roof, pews and furniture. This was paid for by the Rolfe family.
The church has an old organ of considerable historic importance, which was built by W.C. Mack of Great Yarmouth in 1862. The Rev. Ambrose Ogle, Vicar of Sedgeford from 1847 to 1900, commissioned the original organ at a cost of £132 and this was paid for by public subscription. It had a grand opening service on 11th October 1862. In 1891 the Rev. Ogle commissioned the addition of a “great” organ, making it a two-manual organ, which W.C. Mack completed for £115. Mack completed the 1891 work to the newly specified console measurements of the College of Organists. Holmes and Swift completed phase one of the restoration of this organ in April 2004.
The organ has been awarded a certificate by the British Institute of Organ Studies. It is listed on their register of historic pipe organs as an instrument of importance and one deserving careful preservation for the benefit of future generations. Funds are now needed for phase 2 of the restoration of the organ. We have many historical documents and correspondence regarding the organ which are displayed in the church.
Maintenance and upkeep of the Church costs about £290 per week. We have an active group which organises fundraising events throughout the year. The events include an annual village Open Gardens at the end of May, which this year raised £1,567, an Annual Festival of Flowers and Exhibits, held over the August Bank Holiday weekend, a Sponsored Walk, which is often held on Rogation Sunday, an Annual Quiz Book, a Cook Book and one or two concerts each year.
With our Committed to Growth programme, we plan to offer a Sunday afternoon tea service, once a month, in someone’s house, which will take the form of a 15-20 minute service followed by tea. We also plan to hold a monthly Family Service to encourage children and parents.
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The Bishop of Lynn
The Old Vicarage
Telephone : 01760 755553