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St Mary and St Andrew's Church
horsham and newton st faith (towns and villages)

Lying four miles north of Norwich, Horsham St Faith takes its name from the stream The Hor, that runs through the village.

In the Domesday Book the village was listed as 'Horsham'. The hamlet of Newton St Faith lies one mile further north.

city of norwich aviation museum

The City of Norwich Aviation Museum, located in Horsham, is a popular attraction dedicated to recording and preserving the history of aviation in Norfolk. The displays in the exhibition hall reflect this policy focusing on local military and commercial aviation history.  

RAF Horsham St Faith forms an important part of this local heritage. Built between 1939 to 1940, the airfield initially housed Blenheims and then operated Mosquitos against German targets. In 1942 the station was taken over by the United States as a base for the Liberators of the 458th Bomber Group. They flew more than 200 missions from the airfield which now forms part of Norwich Airport.

local history

Records of settlement at Horsham St Faith date back to Saxon times. In 1186 the Domesday Book records William Malet, who fought beside William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings, as Lord of the Manor. He oversaw a settlement that consisted of two water mills, several homesteads and a population of about 200.

Many buildings in the parish contain reused medieval stonework from the priory. The main entrance to the 19th century Mission Room, now the village hall, is built of reused masonry and there is a Norman arch and a sedilia inside. Gildencroft, a 17th century brick house, has a freeze of ashlar blocks on its main façade and during the 1990s decorated pieces were removed from a barn at Mill Farm.  Mill Farm gets its name from a watermill that stood nearby during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries and was demolished in the 1930s. The site of a windmill is marked on late 18th century maps to the north of Horsham village. It was rebuilt in 1849, was last used in 1882 and stood alongside the St Faith Union workhouse.  This workhouse was constructed during the 18th century, rebuilt in 1805 and extended during the 19th century. No trace of it remains and there is now a crematorium on the site.

st mary and st andrew's church

The parish church of St. Mary and St. Andrew houses a screen dated 1528, an elaborate Jacobean font cover and a 17th century stair with adorned with 12 hand painted panels depicting the saints. Of the church's six bells, four are original.

The church was restored in 1873 thanks to £1400 donation from the Twinings family, of Twinings Tea fame. Earlier, in 1853, the family gave £300 to fund the opening of the village school.

Opposite the church is the 18th Century Waytes House and the Church Sunday School and Mission Room dated 1880, with its Norman doorway re-set from St. Faith's Priory.

st faiths priory

In the direction of Horsford there is a footpath that leads out of the village to the remains of the motte and bailey castle of the Cheyney family. It is said that there is an underground tunnel leading from the castle to St. Faith's Priory.

At a time when the whole of Europe was catholic and the crusaders were fighting the Muslims in the Holy Land, the Pope, Alexander III issued a papal document stating that the Knights of Jerusalem were allowed to establish a hospital in Horsham St Faith and Newton St Faith parish.  However it was not given to the Knights Templars but to the Knights of St John of Jerusalem.  The hospital belonging to the Knights of St John of Jerusalem had been founded in the village soon after 1154 by Ralph Granville and by his bull the Pope placed the hospital in the care of the Priory of St Faith.  Ralph Granville later became Lord Chief Justice of England and accompanied Richard I (‘Richard Lionheart’) to the Holy Land where he would see at first hand the work of the Hospitallers as they were more generally known.  The Hospitallers who left Jerusalem for Rhodes and later Malta are better known in their modern incarnation as the St John’s Ambulance Brigade.

The township of Horsham, its inhabitants, lands, woods and pastures were given to the Priory with the tithes of several Norfolk churches. As a consequence Horsham became known as Horsham St Faith. The Priory estate prospered with a succession of priors acting as Lay Lords of the Manor until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 when it was sold to Sir Richard Southwell (1505-1564), one of Henry VIII's commissioners.

Southwell demolished the Priory church and other buildings then converted the refectory wing to a private house for his mistress and their three children. The house, known as The Priory, is inhabited to this day. An original 13th Century refectory wall painting, telling the story of the foundation of the Priory, was recently revealed when Tudor panelling was removed.

a fair for all things

From around the time of the founding of the Priory till 1872, Horsham St Faith hosted one of country's largest annual cattle fairs on 17 October. The famous Norfolk diarist Parson Woodforde described it as "a very large fair for all things".

By the 1720's some 20,000 beasts were sold annually over a period of three weeks, many having been driven all the way from Scotland. The bullocks were fattened in Norfolk then driven to London the following spring. However the coming of the railway brought the cattle driver's way of life to an end.

the weaving industry

During the 16th century, while the weaving industry flourished in Norwich and surrounding villages, a row of cottages were built in Horsham St Faiths to house Dutch refugee weavers. The cottages, built opposite the church, had a large shared work-room upstairs. Now called Church Row they were formerly know as Dutch Row.

When in the late 18th century the demand for hand-woven yarn declined, St Faiths turned to horsehair weaving. A small factory was founded in Back Street and by 1986, 60 horsehair weavers were still employed.

poor law union

St Faiths was also the centre of the Poor Law Union which served 30 surrounding villages. The workhouse was abandoned in 1923 after a fire and the present Crematorium was built on the site in 1937.

related pages

broadland's towns and villages

where is broadland?

external links

city of norwich aviation museum

poor law union in horsham st faith

contact us

Aylsham Tourist Information Centre
Bure Valley Railway Station
Norwich Road
Aylsham NR11 6BW
tel: 01263 733903
fax: 01263 733922
email: aylsham.tic@broadland.gov.uk