Most English churches were rebuilt in the late Middle Ages. Here at Bressingham, in Norfolk, you can see the mark of an earlier roof against the east face of the tower (1), so the tower must have been built first, and therefore the building campaign began at the west end. Money was left towards building the tower (2) in a will made in 1431, and over the W. doorway you see the arms (3) of Sir John Pilkington, who held the manor from 1436 to 1449.
Rebuilding the nave seems to have gone on for many years – money was left towards the north aisle in a will of 1480, whilst there were gifts of lead towards roofing the church from 1505 to 1515. In 1517 they even had collections in neighbouring villages to help finish the roof. The splendid clerestory bears an inscription dated 1527 as a ‘topping off’ stone (4).
The parishioners turned their attention to the interior; some wondrous Renaissance bench ends survive (5), though sadly defaced. For once it is Oliver Cromwell’s men who rightly get the blame for vandalism, carried out in 1644, when a Captain Gilley from across the border in Suffolk (naturally) gave orders to take down glass and ‘superstitious pictures’, even going as far as filing inscriptions of the saints off the bells. ND