Old Church

The church of Saint George the Martyr, now commonly known as the Old Church of St George, is located along Church Lane roughly a quarter of a mile from the village, though it can be seen from most of the west end of the village & also from the Foulsham Road leading out of the village and even the B1110 road. With some parts of the church dating all the way back to the 12th century, the structure served the village for close to 700 years: indeed, we have extensive records of occurrences such as baptisms, marriages & banns dating all the way back to the early 18th century from that church, including its restoration.

That was until 3:30pm on the 2nd August 1892, when the north & east walls of the main bell tower collapsed into the nave, generating a sound that resembled thunder which could be heard throughout the village & even shook some of the houses that were nearby; the south wall collapsed six days later.

 

It is understood that one person, a young man, was in the building at the time of the initial collapse but apparently survived by scrambling into Church Lane. According to an article in The Dereham & Fakenham Times from August 7, 1992, the Evensong service was supposed to have been switched to mid-afternoon, but through a slip of memory on the part of the Reverend at the time, C.T. Skipper, the change wasn’t made: had that happened, the collapse could have had far more devastating effects.

The chancel was demolished in 1933, just after the completion of the new church at its present site at the junction with Church Lane & The Street, after concerns were expressed about the structure’s safety. Indeed, it is widely believed that a structural defect in the bell tower coupled with signs of extreme decay first spotted three months earlier may have caused the collapse. To this day, the surrounding graveyard is still used from time to time, and the west wall of the tower still stands, as well as part of the east end of the structure, both completely covered in ivy: it is not known whether the ivy is holding the structure up or slowly pulling it down, but either way time will tell if the tower will stand the test of time for generations to come.