Church of St Mary the Virgin of Heacham 
Make Heacham Part of Your Holiday Plans.  You'll be glad you did!



Click here for St Mary's Website

Clicking on many of the photos will open an enlarged picture with details

The much loved Church of St Mary the Virgin was built in the 13th century, making the church the oldest building in the village.  It is a true reflection of the village's history since it stands very much at the heart of the village.  The church is surrounded by many buildings made from local chalk, carrstone and a terracotta brick once  manufactured in the village. Churches designed like St Mary the Virgin of Heacham, with a central tower built on the crossing, are a rarity in Norfolk as buildings designed in this manner required a strong foundation base using good strong building stone.  Buildings of this design often collapsed because of poor quality local stone.  Others were reduced in height, but St Mary's has survived more than 800 years.

In the photograph (right) you can see how transepts rising to a great height were designed to support the tower, but these transepts were not well maintained over the years resulting in the extraordinary buttress on the north side being built to support the tower circa 1800.

The church belfry has circular openings on each side which appear small in proportion to the massive tower.  This particular feature of the church indicates its great age as belfry openings grew in size over time.  A cupola crowns the top and contains the original 12th century bell - regarded as the oldest in East Anglia.  Glorious Byzantine style brass lanterns hang from the ceiling identical in design to those of the Basilica in  St Marks Square, Venice.

Throughout the church's life, it has enjoyed local support and it continues to retain its place as the hub of the community.   It  maintains a very active congregation and has a busy and varied calendar of events throughout the year. The Village waits to welcome a new Vicar in 2007 following the retirement of  Canon Patrick Foreman after 8 years of dedicated service.

Local legend has it that the Indian Princess, Pocahontas, worshiped at the church  when  John Rolfe  returned with his extraordinary wife and young son, Thomas to England from Virginia.  Although the British Court took Pocahontas to their hearts, they planned to return to Virginia. Sadly, Pocahontas became ill and died in Gravesend, Kent  aged 22.  Rolfe then returned to his land in  Virginia leaving their son Thomas in England for his formative years.

Coats of arms of  prominent members of the Rolfe family are located inside the church. A sculpture of Pocahontas in Jacobean dress by Otillea Wallace, a pupil of Rodin hangs on the wall above a plaque dedicated to John Rolfe’s father.

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