Curiosity into wonder

Author: Ivan A Barnard

Published on: 20 May 2021

The Saxons founded Fishley in the 10th century, followed by the Normans who built the current church of St. Mary’s.

The Saxons and the Normans are long-since gone and yet this gem of a muchloved round church is still a place of worship today. Standing in isolation completely surrounded by open farmland with glorious views across the Bure Valley. It is the destination of those seeking its peace and tranquillity, to pray and to learn something of its history and its cultural heritage.

The Parish of Fishley has virtually no permanent residents which makes it unique in the Diocese of Norwich. It was curiosity that led me to it. Indeed, it is curiosity that is why people from around the world come and visit us on a Friday every week of the year: to view the rich complexities of its cultural heritage and its architecture. Since 2006 the churchwardens and a dedicated band of volunteers have, by their initiative and physical hard work, provided the funding to preserve and enhance the building. This has twice led them in successive years to be recognised in the English Heritage Angel Awards.

Although these buildings were undoubtedly built for the worship of God they were also at the centre of our communities. It is this community and cultural heritage that is to be found in these glorious buildings, why most people visit today and where curiosity turns into wonder.

The question that I am sometimes asked is, how can a church move from being a place of worship to an historical building?

First of all, it is already an historical building. What we as volunteers and historical detectives have to do is: research, document, exhibit and publicise the 1000 plus years of history of the building in an architectural sense. Then there is the wealth of cultural heritage that successive families, often noble ones, have left us. As an example if you Google EDP Fishley then you will see what I mean.

This all brings a sense of wellbeing and indeed romance, as we now average seven to eight weddings a year.

The author...

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Ivan A Barnard

Churchwarden - Fishley Only, South Walsham, Upton & Fishley (Parish) at St Mary

13 Fishley View
NR13 3EL

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