The Rectors of Bawdeswell are recorded back to the year 1313, but foundations of an earlier oratory, possibly 12C, are underneath the present church.

Here are details of two churches that stood here -

In 1739 the tower fell down and ruined the medieval structure.
The four bells were sold to raise money to re-build it and a brick tower was built.  In 1828 it fell down.


By 1843 the medieval church was in such a bad state that it was decided to raise a fund to build a new one.  At a public meeting it was agreed to levy a 6d rate on the parish raising £150 towards the estimated cost of £1400, the remainder of which was met by donations.



In 1944 a Mosquito aircraft returning from a mission over Germany, iced-up on its way back to Bexwell aerodrome at Downham Market and losing height, crashed into Bawdeswell’s  Victorian church and destroyed it.

Following the impact the blaze was terrific and much damage was done.

This was the only case of a Norfolk village church being destroyed in the Second World War.

Building of the new church

The War Damages Commission rebuilt the church in 1953: the design Neo-Georgian by J Fletcher-Watson, a Norwich architect.  The Rector, the late Revd H G B Folland, who had arrived in Bawdeswell only a few weeks before the plane crash, showed great fortitude in organising the building of the new church.

The architect J Fletcher-Watson also designed the Bishop’s House in Norwich.  The Quantity Surveyors were Messrs Philip Pank & Partners.  The main contractors were H C Greengrass & Sons Ltd.  The foreman in charge of works was Mr Baldry.

War damage compensation provided £15,000 for the new building and the parishioners raised a further £5,000 for its furnishings and extras.  The congregation used a Primitive Methodist Chapel in the village until the church was completed.  Prime costs were £12,500 but the spire added almost £700, furnishing £1,000 and the organ £650.  Other fittings and furnishings such as windows and electrics made up the balance.

Work started in March 1953.  The foundation stone at the west end of the church was laid by Sir Edmund Bacon, Bt. on 21st July 1953.

The completed church was dedicated by the Bishop of Norwich, the Revd P M Herbert, on 27th September 1955.


The Exterior of the church


The neo-Georgian style of the windows is in sharp contrast to other village churches.

The stonework is done in an artificial stone, and the walls are constructed of natural Norfolk uncut flints arranged in herringbone pattern.

Over the porch is a cross modelled from a broken capital in the St Menas Church in the lower Delta of Egypt


The spire was built in the Cringleford workshop of H E Taylor & Co mainly by Colin Kirk, Geoffrey Lister, and John Chittock.  It was lifted into place in three sections and secured by four steel rods through the concrete roof of the tower.


Following the fire in 1944 a wooden cross remained standing on top of the bell turret, and this has been re-erected to the left of the porch on the site of the west wall of the Norman church; it is in memory of John Romer Gurney who died in 1932.

The entrance porch is flanked by Tuscan pillars and there are double doors of red mahogany


Inside the Church 



The font is made of Ancaster stone with a bleached oak font-cover

The pews are of limed oak and their backs have different angles of slope offering a choice so one can sit in comfort.  The design is attributed to a Professor Sherblom of Sweden.

On the inside of the pew ends can be found the carved initials of the men who built the church.

The three-decker pulpit is a feature of the church. 

The seat of the Minister's desk is constructed with a lift-up seat like a misericord

The wood carving is in fact a rebus on the name of Bawdeswell, depicting a boar-des-well.
John Labouchere  helped in the carving of it.

At the East end of the church there is a semi-circular apse in place of a Nordic style chancel.

The original organ  was by Norman & Beard.  It came from the Dower House Music Room at Shotesham.

In 2008 it was replaced with  Johannes Conservatoire Digital Organ built into the same case but set back slightly.




There are six exquisite stained glass roundels in the main windows.  Most of the glass was  made  in  the  Rhineland  during  the  16th & 17th Centuries  and  was  given  by  R Q Gurney in 1970, in memory of his father Q E Gurney who was a churchwarden from 1912 – 1968.

Clensing the Temple

The Crucifixion

Judas at the Last Supper

Samson & Deliliah

Soldier piercing the Lord

The Ascension


A large chest with a curved top stands at the back of the church and was made by George Lloyd Lewis from timber salvaged from the previous building.

It is oak, bound with iron in the manner 
of a medieval chest.

Mr Lewis died in 1952 before the building was started, but he donated this chest to the new church.

At the end of 1999 the parish completed the church with the installation of a tower clock to mark the new Millennium.  Built by John Smiths of Derby, it is computer controlled, very accurate and changes between GMT and Summer Time by itself.
This was paid for by the parishioners, well-wishers and with the help of a grant from Breckland District Council.





When the Mosquito aircraft crashed into the church, both airmen were killed but mercifully no one in the village was hurt.
The plane, damaged in action, iced up and was struggling  when it hit electricity cables at Bawdeswell.

Following the impact the blaze was terrific and much damage was done to adjacent houses.

Clearing the rubble

A plaque commemorating the pilot and navigator made from parts of aircraft’s engines by John Ames (PCC Secretary 1972-1980 and Churchwarden 1980-1994} hangs on the wall.


The Americans and Bawdeswell Church

There is a popular misconception that an American aircraft destroyed the church but this was not the case.
The fire fighters and crash rescue team who were first on the scene came from Attlebridge which was an American airbase.  Also when this base was closed after the war, they presented us with the altar, communion rails and candlesticks from their Nissen hut chapel to use in our temporary church in the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Reepham Road.
The New England look  of the church is coincidental.  Its architect chose the neo-Georgian style to blend with other buildings in the street.