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A SHORT HISTORICAL GUIDE TO ALDBOROUGH CHURCH
written by the late Rev. Canon Charles Bayes
The church stands near the highest point in the parish and from the road nearby seven other churches may be seen. The village name means an old encampment or fortification, ie old to Anglo-Saxon settlers of the 7th-8th centuries. The present village clusters around the green over half a mile away in a more sheltered spot. The pagan Anglo-Saxons buried their dead outside the village, possibly on this very site.
The church building shows signs of stonework nearly a thousand years old on the south and west walls. The north aisle was added about six hundred years ago. The tower fell in about 1790 and was replaced by the present bell-turret in 1906. On the south side there are two mass dials dating from a pre-clock age: one is on the west wall of the porch, the other to the east of the chancel door.
The font is over five hundred years old, and the wooden altar rails date from about 1650. Church registers recording the births, marriages and burials of parishioners go back to 1538. Thorough refurbishment was carried out in 1849, and also more recently when the present pews, stalls, pulpit and lectern were provided.
Three figure brasses can be found under the mats in front of the chancel step and may be rubbed after permission is obtained. One of them is outstanding and features a lady's butterfly headdress of about 1480. Two of the brasses relate to the Herward family, which may be linked with Hereward the Wake.
Long before the present conservation movement, John Gudgeon Nelson, the rector from 1860 to 1882, planted daffodils, narcissi and dog-tooth violets which continue to grow in abundance. Special care has been taken to preserve the wild flowers and conservation awards have often been won. The churchyard was extended in 1990.
Dog-tooth violets in flower
In the porch and on the east wall south of the altar, are modern statues of Our Lady, designed and made by H. Rogers. The east window, given in memory of the Rev. J.G. Nelson, has toplights depicting flowers associated with him. Other windows and memorials commemorate the Gay family, who were lords of the manor; the rector from 1916 to 1946 was Christopher Lilly who married Margaret Gay (commemorated in an Aldborough road name), and the Lilly family hold the lordship of the manor of Aldborough and patronage of the living.
Until the last century, the churchwardens had oversight of all village matters: their account books from mid-17th century to early 19th century are preserved. There is a fine silver communion cup inscribed 'This belongs to the toun of Albroug Norfolke 1717'. Aldborough is in the Scarrowbeck Group of parishes, and the Old Rectory, Aldborough is now in private hands.
This is our village church, used for regular worship week by week, spiritual home of all its parishioners. It is a holy place, soaked in prayer, and we hope that you may find the opportunity to visit in person.