Heritage 35a St Mary’s Parish

No. 35a                      St Mary’s Parish

The parish at the time of the Domesday survey (after 1066) was alternately in the manors of Shotesham Hall and St Benets.    In 1187 a dispute arose this and the agreement reached was that Robert de Vaux (Lord of the manor of Shotesham Hall) would have St Mary’s while St Martin’s would be given to Abbot Ralph of St Benet’s Abbey at Holm. This was a good bargain on the Abbot’s part as he had already been given St Botolph’s by Canute (1017-35) and Grenesvill slightly earlier. The next time we hear of the parish is in 1311 when it is united with St Botolph’s.

Being connected to the Abbey was very important to the villagers. Along with their right of fishing, they were given by Henry II all the special abbey rights of free warren, view of frankpledge and freedom from tolls by land and water.

Under Henry VIII the advowson passed to the Crown and stayed like this until 1552 when it was given to the Lord of the manor, William Necton, and eventually to William Fellowes in 1731. William Fellowes it was who erected a cold bath house for the use of his tenants.

The Church, following the de-population of the village it served (probably in the fifteenth and sixteenth century by agricultural enclosure), fell into a ruinous state. In the returns for ruined and decayed Churches in 1602 it is described as “Dec’tus de Brook Shotesham St Mary. The rooffe of the Cheneellys decayed, and so hath been by the space of a year or two last, by the default of Mr Henry Gawdy Esq, who hath the unpropriate Rectory there “.

It remains like this until 1879 when it is entirely restored by Robert Fellowes the lay rector. This included making good the walls and roof, re-flooring, new windows, re-seating and providing a new pulpit, reading desk and lecturn. Later the Caen stone reredos and organ were added. The communion plate consists of a silver chalice and paten both dated 1713 and entitled “Shotesham St Maries and St Martins”. The register dated back to 1687.