Gressenhall Church, St Mary’s

Postcode NR19 2QQ

The church is open every day for visitors. The disabled ramp is in place for easier access.
Services at St Mary’s will be held the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month plus the additional Benefice service when possible. We have coffee/tea after the services. There are Second hand books for sale.

We use the Hastings chapel for meetings, coffee after church etc.

There is a strong team of cleaners and flowers arrangers which help to keep the church so beautiful.

St Mary’s has an exceptional 10 bells, a wonderful band of ringers, who practice most Tuesday evenings, anyone welcome to join.

We are hoping to replace/repair the nave roof and bell tower roof this coming year from existing funds.

There is a temporary, very efficient, loo in place, accessed through the vestry but sadly not disabled access.  We are hoping to install this in the future when we can raise the money.

Any enquiries contact : Sally Cross, church warden 01362 869145. 07775-817594
Hall Farm, Church Lane, Gressenhall Dereham Norfolk NR19 2QF

St Mary’s Gressenhall is part of the Launditch and Upper Nar Benefice, a group of 17 parishes in north-west Norfolk.

About the church

St Mary’s has a friendly, growing congregation who enjoy regular Sunday worship and a varied programme of activities all through the year. We are currently working towards installing a toilet, kitchen servery, improved heating and are planning to remove the pews in the nave to enable us to have a more flexible space that can be used by the whole community. When completed we will be able to hold events such as concerts, lectures, harvest suppers, barn dances, exhibitions, film nights, sports such as carpet bowls and badminton, craft fairs and activities for children and young people.


We have two services a month at 11.15am with music. If you live in the village and don’t have transport we can arrange a lift. Please contact Sally Ackroyd on 01362 692010

We celebrate all the major festivals as well as an annual Pet Service and a service for All Souls Day.


The Church of St Mary, or to give it its full title, The Church of the Assumption of St Mary, has been the parish Church of Gressenhall since at least 1344, when the first Rector, John de Rothing was installed. The present church was built by John Ferrour in the 14th Century. Evidence of a previous church on this site comes from the Norman windows in the church tower which were re-sited when the tower was rebuilt in 1880. The Church has been remodelled at least three times: at the reformation, in 1880 and 1927.

Gressenhall itself is an ancient settlement, being mentioned in the Domesday Book (where it was valued with Scarning as worth £4) and before that, there is evidence of a Viking settlement: Gressenhall means gravelly place in Old Norse.

The church sits in a well kept churchyard in a peaceful location surrounded by beautiful countryside. It is much loved by the village and all who visit. The church is light and benefits from having 10 bells with an active team of bell ringers who ring every Sunday and for special services, and has a fine organ which is maintained and still in use.

St Mary’s Gressenhall is one of very few Cruciform churches..

There are lots of interesting features to look out for when visiting the church. In particular:

  • The figures of a lion and a dog on the gable of the porch.
  • The impressive 15th century door.
  • The octagonal font which dates back to the 14th
  • Above the south/main door are the Royal Arms of Charles II.
  • At the east end of the south aisle are the remains of the medieval rood screen, which was originally placed to separate the chancel, the area reserved to the ministers, from the people’s area – the nave. The screen was disfigured by the iconoclasts of the puritan revolution. It originally depicted popular saints, including St Leonard, St Augustine, St Stephen and St Michael.
  • Looking upward in the nave toward the tower can be seen two windows. These are Norman windows that were reset when the tower was rebuilt in 1878-80. The original tower being demolished because it was unsafe. Above the war memorial a piece of Norman sculpture can also be seen on the south side of the tower.
  • The north transept was once known as Ferrour’s Chapel after the original architect. It now contains a fine Organ installed by Norman and Beard of Surrey in 1911.
  • The south transept is known as the Hasting’s Chapel and this is still in use, but not as a chapel, but as an informal area where coffee is shared after the service. The Chapel was built by the L’Estrange family in the 16th century and restored in the 20th
  • Look out for the original mediaeval door which leads to the bell tower. This is one of the few towers to contain a full set of ten bells.
  • On the north side of the chancel there is a peephole in the wall. This may well be a leper’s squint. This enabled lepers who weren’t allowed to enter the body of the church in the middle ages, to watch the Mass from outside.
  • At the west end of the church there was once gallery for musicians. In the chancel there is a memorial to Robert Halcot which reads” HIM HAVE WEE FOR A TIME LOST WHO BILT THIS GALEREY ATT HIS OWNE COST. Robert died in 1640, so the west gallery was built around 1600. It was removed around 1880.

For further information please contact:

Sally Cross (Churchwarden)          [email protected]              01362 869145

Suzanne Clarke (Churchwarden) [email protected]   01362 860800

Find us using the link below:

St Mary’s at Christmas