The village of Hickling is thought to have had its origins in the fifth century AD. St Mary's was built in the late 14th century. It probably stands on the same site as an earlier church. Bits of this earlier building have been reused within the present structure. We are not sure when the first church was built here. However there was certainly a church on this site at the Norman Conquest. It is recorded in the Domesday Book, 1086, and was probably of considerable age at that time.
In the 13 century the Augustinian Canons of Hickling Priory, (which had been founded in 1185), began building the present church, of stone and knapped flint. It served what by then seems to have been a village of some importance since it supported a weekly market, granted by King John to the Priory in 1204.
The Church was originally dedicated to All Saints. At the Dissolution of the Priory, in 1536, the church took the dedication to St. Mary, which continues
to this day. The extent and shape of the building is probably much as it was at the Dissolution, but at about that time the chancel was reduced in length - apparently due to the collapse of the east end - and the earlier dimensions are indicated by the height of the ground outside. The church was heavily restored in 1875, and the immediate effect of the interior - plain, even austere - is as much the result of that as of the medieval builders. Before this restoration there was an oak screen, a gallery at the west end, box pews and a three-decker pulpit.
CALLING ALL HICKLING BELL RINGERS As many of you are aware, the bells at Saint Marys Church have recently been repaired and are now ready to peel once more. The Parochial Church Council of Saint Mary's Church are looking for people who are interested in learning how to become a competent campanologist. You may have never touched a bell rope before or you maybe already experienced in bell ringing (perhaps you rang the bells at Saint Mary's Church previously), please express your interest and experience by contacting Jane Egerton on 01692 598370 (or by e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org). This offer is directed primarily at residents of Hickling. The Parochial Church Council would be happy to hear from you, via the contact details above, and are initially seeking to find how many people (and their relevant experience) are interested.
BELL RINGING ROOM! – ARE YOU WILLING TO HELP? Following the above request for bell ringers, the church has spent a lot of effort and time restoring the bells to a fully working condition. As many of the congregation know, a secondary system of bell chiming (utilising the 'Ellacombe Apparatus') has been repaired and made operational for the last two years. As you can appreciate, over years of non-use, the Bell-Ringing room has suffered neglect and is in need of renovation prior to utilising its full potential. We are looking for volunteers to assist in returning this room to its former glory and making it functional once again. Saint Marys Church at Hickling is very special. Of all the churches in Norfolk (and there are a great many), Saint Marys Church is unique in that it has the 'Heaviest Ring of Five' (the largest/heaviest group of five bells) in the county. To help hear that unique sound ring out across our village once more, and if you can spare some free time painting/cleaning etc., please contact Warren Egerton on 01692 598370 (or by e-mail - email@example.com). Your assistance would be very greatly appreciated by all.