St. Mary's Church


The Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Colkirk with Oxwick and Pattesley, is part of the Upper Wensum Village Benefice in the Burnham and Walsingham Deanery

 in the Diocese of Norwich.         ( )


The other parishes in the Benefice are Whissonsett, Horningtoft, Brisley, Gateley, Great Ryburgh with Little Ryburgh and Testerton, and Shereford with Dunton.

 Benefice Website on


Parish Priest........Revd. Robin Stapleford. 01328 853 226

( Scheduled Day Off : Monday....Unless really urgent )


Reader.................Mr. Richard Hirst.... 01328 864 128

Churchwarden....Mr. Michael Barter.. 01328 855 137


Verger..................Mr. Michael Barter..01328 855 137

Treasurer.............Mrs. Helen Shaw.....01328 862 894

Information on St. Mary's Colkirk and All Saints' Oxwick can be found by clicking on the names.




Church Restoration Appeal

St Mary’s Church has supported many past and present generations of Colkirk families and will continue to do this for many years to come. The present incumbent supported by the churchwarden and members of the church council are merely custodians of this historic grade II* listed building, which has a direct link to the nineteenth century revival of England’s Convocation movement.

To keep St Mary’s in good condition for future generations we need your help to achieve this.

The church visitor’s book contains many favourable comments from people who have visited St Mary’s. These include many visitors from overseas. Perhaps one of them may be you, or you might have a connection to Colkirk. If you would like to support this restoration work, any donation large or small would be gratefully received.

Please make cheques payable to St Mary’s Church, Colkirk, PC and enclose a letter stating the donation is specifically for church restoration work. Please send your cheque and letter to: Mr M. I. Barter, Churchwarden, St Mary’s Church, 5 Jarvis Drive, Colkirk, Fakenham, Norfolk, NR21 7NG. 



The Parish Magazine " The Upper Wensum Diary " can be delivered to your home for £5 per year and gives service details for all churches in the Benefice.

Link to Upper Wensum Diary page


Points of interest about the Church


1538  Church Registers began

1676  Earliest dated stone in the churchyard to a Lynn shipmaster's daughter.

1767  Samuel Collison's stone with a medallion portrait of the deceased couple

1850  Primitive Methodist Camp Meetings held on the Camping Land ( which was glebe )

1857  In the first week of Rev. Sweet becoming Rector he dispensed with the orchestra in the west gallery and installed a harmonium and a choir in the chancel.

In his first year Rev. Sweet commenced a church restoration. The chancel was re-roofed with slate and pitch-pine. The church was re-seated with open pews, stretching from the pulpit to the west end. This project was helped by a grant of £40 from the Incorporated Church Building Society of which Mr. Henry Hoare was treasurer. A new pulpit, lectern, altar rails and choir stalls were erected. The building was re-floored in red and black tiles and a coke stove installed in the nave. The east window was filled with bright glaze showing scriptural scenes and texts in memory of Rev. Tatham. The ancient iron work of the south door was replaced by floral wrought iron hinges and the porch was closed by big, rather nice, Gothic gates in wood and iron.

1860-70  Rectory barn demolished

1863  The church spire was removed.

1864  Rev. Sweet claimed the Camping Land as Glebe and enclosed it to prevent trespass of cattle and games on Sundays.

1871  Rev. W. M. Hoare added the North aisle and Vestry-cum-organ Chamber, the cost being £389. The old nave roof was replaced at the cost of £120. The money was raised by selling the old lead from the roof. Also, in this year, the churchyard was extended to the North and East.

1873  Opening of the church organ.  Building as we see it today.

1875  The Sanctuary Chair, a gift from the Rev. W. M. Hoare was made by Halliday of Wells, Somerset.  The churchyard gate was made by the village carpenter, James Nelson and the village blacksmith, William Eastwick.  The Nelsons were the village carpenters for nearly 250 years.

1876  Three South windows filled with coloured glass by Henry Hughes of London - scriptural scenes and texts, with angels walking on purple clouds in the tracery lights.

1883  Rev. W. A. Chapman's stone is dated this year. It is interesting as the inscription is on the back and the face is used for texts so that persons entering the churchyard can read them.

1912  The present rood screen was placed under the Chancel arch by W. M. Hoare and his family. The architect designer was Percy Fielding, the screen being made in London. The plain oak cross was local work. The figure of Christ was carved in the Black Forest.  The cost of the whole was £100.

1930  Electric light installed.  Brass candle holders on wooden stems were removed from their sockets on every other pew.  The remainder were used until the end of WW2.  Organ enlarged by a gift from Capt. F. S. Burrows.

1939  Rev. Garnier curtained off the Vestry from the aisle. The Sanctuary and Chancel floor were reduced in height

( Brass plaque reads: The Riddells, Dorsel, Posts and Altar Frontals as well as improvements to the Sanctuary and Chancel floors and curtains to the Vestry are a memorial to Thomas Vernon Garnier.  M.A  O.B.E Rector of Colkirk 1930-9. Dedicated October 15th 1939.)

1940's  A 17th century monument, an early 14th century stone coffin lid and a small organ for use in Sunday School were brought to Colkirk from Oxwick  church when it closed. 

1953  Church organ was overhauled and an electric blower added.

1998  " New " Organ from Blofield Church.

( Brass plaque reads: Dedicated in memory of Fred and Eve Wayne. 1912-74 and 1913-96. Both Churchwardens of this Parish. )

2001/2  Re-roofing and replacement of guttering downpipes.

2003  Interior decoration.


A Colkirk Rector's wife and her paintings

Emily Jane Sweet (nee Hallward) was the wife of James Bradby Sweet, the Rector of Colkirk from 1857–1868.  

Emily had married James in 1853 when he was the Perpetual Curate of Woodville in Leicestershire. At the time of James’ marriage to Emily, he lived in Parsonage House with his sister, Eliza Ann, and could afford a cook, a housemaid and a male servant.

Before moving to Colkirk in late 1857, Emily and James had two children - a daughter, Florence Emily, born in 1856, and a son, J. Leslie, born in early 1857.  

Whilst living in Colkirk, Emily and James had three more children – Mary, born in 1859; William born in 1860, and finally Edward, born in 1861. James’ mother, Caroline, also lived with them along with a cook, a housemaid and a teenage underservant.  

In 1868, the family moved to Yorkshire when James became Vicar of Scalby near Scarborough.  By 1871, they had moved again, this time to Barton in Fabis near Nottingham.  Ten years later, James became Vicar of Otterton in Devon where he lived with Emily and their children Florence, Mary and also Edward who was now an undergraduate at Oxford.   

James died in 1897. By 1901, Emily had moved to Fleet in Hampshire with her adult Florence and Mary, both now in their 40s and still unmarried. 

Emily died in 1906. She had always been an enthusiastic watercolour artist and copies of 15 of her paintings of views around Colkirk and the surrounding area, and other works painted as far afield as Kent, Suffolk, Surrey, Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire can be viewed by clicking the link below.

Link to Emily Sweet's Watercolours




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