Another Overgrown Church at the Heart of a Lost Village in England

(Image: Evelyn Simak, cc-sa-3.0)

The abandoned church of St Felix is all that’s left of Babingley, one of Norfolk’s lost villages.  Located in the same English county as several other overgrown church ruins, including St Mary’s at Fulmodeston and St Andrew’s at Bircham Tofts, St Felix’s is little more than a shell beyond its ivy-clad 14th century tower.  Nevertheless, the remote ruin remains a place of great local significance and has taken its place in the folklore of the region.

(Images: Evelyn Simak (top & bottom); Richard Humphrey (centre); cc-sa-3.0)

Said to be the oldest Christian church in the county of Norfolk, legend has it that Babingley was the landfall of St Felix of Burgundy, who was invited by the Wuffings – the East Anglian royal family – around AD 615 to convert their kingdom, although this has been disputed.  The church was still in use during the early 19th century but fell into complete abandonment after 1880.

(Images: Evelyn Simak (Top, left, right), cc-sa-3.0)

A curious feature of St Felix’s is that the chancel arch was blocked off at some stage by a wall that remains intact today.  This has led to suggestions that the chancel was simply separated for alternative uses, but a more likely explanation holds that the wall was built in a bid to reduce the size of the nave due to the dwindling congregation.  The church of St Felix was later captured in an atmospheric painting by English artist John Piper.

(Images: UksignpixEvelyn Simak, cc-sa-3.0)

Aside from the church, Babingley village has reverted to farmland adjacent to Hall Farm.  Look for it on Google Maps one mile north-west of Castle Rising and five miles north-north-east of King’s Lynn.  On the map you’ll see a red marker hovering above a field.  If you take a trip to the site, you’ll see the above sign post and – of course – the overgrown church.


About the author: Tom





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