Places: Religious Buildings

Gt snoring Church 1937

The Church of St. Mary the Virgin is an old Gothic building, consising of chancel, nave, south aisle and a fine square tower containing one bell.

It is built of flint walls with stone dressings and slate roofs with c1800 brick dentil eaves cornices. The church was extensively restored during Victorian times: roof and benches date from this time, with 16th century poppyheads affixed to the late Victorian benches. There is a huge Commandment Board above the blocked north doorway, the text executed in 'black letter' script, the paintings depicting the four Evangelists and their symbols, and Aaron and Moses .

The 18th century carved communion rails were presumably made by a local carpenter. Older survivals are the 13th century font and angle piscina in the south aisle; the largely original 15th century rood screen consists of six panels, one of which depicts the Holy Trinity, the other the Virgin Mary.

Fragments of medieval glass are set into the chancel windows and there are several 17th century monuments on the chancel wall . On the sanctuary floor there is a damaged brass to Sir Ralph Shelton (d. 1424) and his wife Alice.. The church organ was made in 1867 by William Denman of York, who made two organs for Norfolk churches: the other one was destroyed during WW2.

Great Snoring St Mary The Virgin Church

St Mary the Virgin is a sturdy aisled and clerestoried building. The interior has a 12th century four-bay south arcade and a 12th century south aisle with a piscina at the east end. The font is marble, probably 13th century.

There is a handsome mural tablet to the Rev. Christopher Stannard B.D. fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, many years rector of this parish. The register dates from the year 1560. (Transcription of the Registers HERE)

The pews have interesting poppyheaded ends from the 15th century. Over the door is an 18th century board containing the Ten Commandments and another board contains the Royal Arms. The Chancel has a notable 15th century rood screen which you can read about on a separate page HERE.

The nave and aisle roofs have exposed rafters circa 1800. Although there is a grand Norman font, much of the character is Decorated, with a Perpendicular chancel arch and a patina of Georgian from the major 1800 restoration.

Even though the village of Great Snoring is now smaller than that of Little Snoring, its church is bigger and less rustic, and has more grandeur.

Painted Rood Screen

The rood screen is little documented, but has just two intriguing surviving painted panels. One depicts the Holy Trinity in the form of God the Father holding the crucified Christ while a dove descends. This representation is not that uncommon in medieval churches, but it is unusual on roodscreens.

The panel beside it depicts Mary and the infant Christ, at once tender and beautiful. The decalogue board over the door is massive, and facing across from it are royal arms to James II. Because of his popish reputation, these are relatively unusual, but it matches the one at Little Snoring.

A medieval brass to Ralph Shelton is badly damaged, but his wife still survives. There is also an alabaster wall monument and a touching memorial to brothers who died of smallpox. With its World War gravemarker, still with its Flanders mud underneath the varnish, it's a haunting place.

Speaking of haunting, I stayed in the Old Rectory overnight when in Gt Snoring. The room I had was directly overlooking the church and churchyard. I left the curtains open and the shutters wide. In the middle of the night I woke to see a LIGHT inside the church! It flickered like a candle, but must have been much larger to light up the church, and it moved backwards and forwards. I've never been able to account for it. (The door of the church is kept locked by the way.)

You can see photos of the church below. Please note that I took only some of these photos myself, and I make no claim to the others, which are here displayed merely for the purposes of illustration.

Image Gallery


The Snoring Villages: a website for those researching their family trees, and for anybody curious about the history and whereabouts of these two small villages in Norfolk, UK.

Contact The Snorings

I no longer live in Norfolk. I cannot visit graves, make local enquiries or provide contacts for you. Please be aware that I have no information other than that on this website..

Address: Derbyshire, England
Telephone: Unavailable
E-mail: tricia (at)