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History of St Ethelbert's Church
St Ethelbert was King of the East Angles and legend has it that he was killed by the powerful King Offa of Mercia in 794AD whilst on a visit to Herefordshire to request the hand of Offa’s daughter, Alfreda, in marriage. He was locally canonized and a number of churches in Norfolk, Suffolk, and the west of England are dedicated to him. He is also a joint patron of Hereford cathedral.
Building work on the church started sometime in the 12th century, with the fine Norman doorway being one of the oldest parts of the structure. The first rector recorded is William de Lerling 1280 - 1303. The tower was the last part to be built in the 14th century and at that time the church was thatched. The tower contains three bells, one of which was cast in Thetford in 1617 and the others in Bury St Edmunds and Norwich.
The church underwent two significant stages of restoration in the Victorian period, during which a very ancient altar stone (mensa ) was discovered hidden under an old communion table. This has now been restored to its original position and displays five crosses, signifying the five wounds of Christ on the Cross.
The church is Listed Grade 1 and is of national historic importance.
Musical accompaniment to worship is provided by a marvelous hand-pumped organ. With no electricity, lighting is derived from oil-fired lamps and candles, while heating is from a large wood-burning stove. At the time of the Carol Service, the exterior of the church is illuminated by the headlights of local farmers’ tractors and it becomes a focal point for the local rural community to celebrate the birth of Christ