The Abbey is one of very few churches to retain most of its original parish archives. Originally kept in ancient parish chests, they are now housed in a small muniment room* and maintained by our honorary archivist, John Herne. The recent Development Project, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, has enabled us for the first time to display selected original documents of general interest on a rotating basis.
*muniment room - "a storage or display room in a castle, church, university, or the like, where pertinent historical documents and records are kept."
Our earliest documents are deeds dating back to the 1200s. Important items, such as rule books of medieval gilds, churchwardens’ accounts and inventories and parish vestry minutes give us a unique insight into aspects of parish life and worship centuries ago. Remarkable survivals include two leaves from medieval service books, probably written by monks for use in the parish part of the church and a burse (originally used at Mass) dating from about 1300. One of our greatest treasures is a 1613 printing of the great 1611 King James Bible. More recent items include scrapbooks of Revd William Papillon’s domestic bills and accounts from the early 1800s, prints and early photographs of the church, and copies of the Parish Magazine from 1898 to the present day. The parish registers pre 1615 have not survived. Registers of baptism, banns, marriage and burial from 1615 to the mid-twentieth century are held by the Norfolk Record Office.
You will always find some original items of interest on display in specially designed cases as the back of the church or in the new display rooms. Others are illustrated on the touch-screens in St Margaret’s. To find out more, or make an appointment to see the collection in person, contact our archivist John Herne, e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org
We are running a regular feature highlighting some of the more notable treasures in our archives. Click here to go to the Treasures page.
Most of the treasures featured are on display in our display cases, although occasionally we might feature something that is not on public display. In this instance, you are welcome to contact our archivist John to make an appointment to view the item when you visit.