St. Mary's Church
Miss Ann Rossington
The casual visitor, having seen the fine fifteenth century tower from the coast road and deciding to investigate, may be surprised at the simplicity of the
interior of the church at Holme-next-the-Sea as shown in the picture below.
The first mention of a church in Holme-next-the-Sea is in 1188 but nothing is known of this building and it was not until the first half of the fifteenth century that the story of the present church began. Henry Notingham, who was a Judge of Assize in the reign of Henry IV (1399-1413) and a member of the council of the Duchy of Lancaster, was responsible for the building of the tower and the original chancel of a church which had a north and a south aisle and a longer nave than the present one.
Reconstruction in 1888
It seems that over the centuries, the cost of maintaining Such a large building was more than the parish could bear and it evidently fell into disrepair. At a Vestry meeting on the 8th September 1887 it was decided to demolish the remains of the nave and the whole of the north and south aisles and build a smaller church. In the following year the nave, without aisles, was rebuilt and the chancel extensively repaired using materials from the walls and windows of the old north and south aisles. The east window was constructed at this time.
There are three fonts in the church. Shown here is The Victorian font which is used at the present time. It is made of Bath Stone on pillars of Irish and Devon marble. It was given by Mrs. Holley in memory of her husband, the Rev. John Holley in 1885. Two older fonts below can be seen in the Inner Porch.
This old primitive stone font is supported on a drainage stone.
A tall and elegant font with marble basin and stone pedestal stands at the entrance to the Nave. It was in use until 1885.
The church has several striking memorials. In one of the blocked-up windows in the South wall of the chancel, there is a memorial to Richard Stone and his wife and 13 children seen on the left. The inscription is dated 1607.
This beautiful organ was bequeathed by Thomas Nelson of Holme House. It occupies a large part of the north side of the Chancel.
The Notingham Brass to Henry Notingham and his wife was moved from their tomb when the south aisle was demolished. The date and make of the brass is unknown, but thought to be London made and earlier than the many Norwich made brasses found in Norfolk.
High up in the Tower, which is still the original built by Henry Notingham in the early 15th century, hang five bells.
The first bell was made in 1677, second in 1754, third in 1720, fourth in 1740 and the fifth in 1868. Individual weights range from 2 cwt to 7¾ cwt with the Tenor in Ab. The bells are rung regularly for Church Services and the ringers meet for practice every Tuesday between 2 and 4 p.m. See Ringing the Changes. For reasons of safety the Tower is kept locked when not in use.
The 15th century steps, which unusually rise anti-clockwise, can be seen climbing up within the Tower in the photograph on the right.
St. Mary's, Holme-next-the-Sea
The tower at night
St. Mary's, Holme-next-the-Sea seen through a different eye! Photos taken by village resident Geoff Jessop...
In the churchyard there are many graves of members of the Nelson family, who lived at Holme House. The Holme-next-the-Sea branch of the family was descended from the elder son of Edmund Nelson of Wendling, Norfolk, whilst the Admiral was descended from his younger son.
Just to the left of the main entrance gate to the church is the War Memorial. All of the names recorded here, and the full list of those who served their country as shown on the Roll of Honour inside the church, can be seen in detail on the War Memorial page of the village web site.
There is an interesting, although distant, connection between the Nelson family and that of Napoleon Bonaparte. The mother of Mrs. Matthew Nelson (who designed the only stained glass in the church in memory of her husband) was Ann Jane de Clerc, a niece of General de Clerc, the first husband of Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister. As an obituary notice in "The Queen" of 15th January 1887 put it, "thereby were united the families of the two greatest naval and military commanders the world has ever seen."
A full account of the history of the Church, with details of the manors of Holme and a list of Rectors and Vicars (past and present) of St. Mary the Virgin, Holme-next-the-Sea, may be seen inside the Church.
The Norfolk Churches Site features a most interesting account of a visit by the two gentlemen who compile the many pages about Norfolk churches that make up this fascinating web site. Incidentally, the 'great character who makes visiting Norfolk churches such an adventure' mentioned was, well yes, yours truly the Webmaster of this web site!
For architectural information and details of the building's listing status please visit
The National Heritage List for England.
Please also visit the village web site www.holme-next-the-sea.co.uk and learn more of our village
To discover more about bell ringing in general and the local band of bell ringers based at this church please check out www.hntsbellringers.co.uk.
Of lesser importance - Frederick Green, a churchwarden in 1887 and involved in the decision to re-build the church in its present form is an ancestor of Pat Fisher, who created the original of these pages on an earlier version of the web site. He and other members of the Green family are buried in Holme-next-the-Sea churchyard under the holly tree. If you are interested in the Green family please contact vlisle10@.hotmail.com.
Sources: Church Tours Committee 1984 and Miss Pam Ulyat of Holme-next-the-Sea.
There are usually arrangements of flowers, provided by ladies from the village, in the Church throughout the year except during Lent and Advent.
For occasions such as weddings, christenings or funerals, the ladies who provide the usual arrangements can offer a more bespoke service. Special colours and displays can be discussed. The cost can include the purchase price of the flowers, Oasis and an arrangement fee (starting from about £50) which goes towards the flowers used to help make our Church look beautiful at Easter, Christmas and other important dates in the Church calendar. Alternatively, flowers can be supplied for the ladies to arrange.
To discuss requirements, or for further information, please contact Shirley on 01485 525218 - early booking well before the event is strongly advised.
The Church bells are used to announce that a service will soon be starting. The bells can also be rung for weddings - we usually ring for about 30 minutes before the wedding with
a few minutes break. The bells ring constantly from about 10 minutes before the bride is due to arrive and will stop as she enters the Church. They start ringing once again as the
married couple leave the Church and will continue for up to 15 minutes.
The charge is in line with the rates suggested by the Central Council of Bellringers and the Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers and is currently £20 per bell. As there are five bells at St. Mary's the fee for a wedding is £100. One fifth of this amount goes towards keeping the bells and fittings in good working order.
The bells can also be rung for funerals. They can be rung 'open' - normal ringing. Or they can be 'half-muffled' which results in alternate rows of soft and normal notes. This sounds very melancholy which many people find quite moving at such a sad time. If required, the largest bell can be half-muffled and rung alone. There is no charge for ringing for funerals or memorial services.
To book the bells or for further information please contact Tony on 01485 525149 - early advice of your requirements would be much appreciated.
Please also visit the bell ringers' web site at www.hntsbellringers.co.uk.