Saint Mary's Church

Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk

Herluin The Thegn

The remains of Herluin a high ranking Anglo-Saxon Thegn are buried in the north side of the church yard.

The remains were discovered during restorative work. They reveal a tall man in situ. According to the local charter dating to the reign of Edward the Confessor 1042 - 1066, Herluin held Houghton as part of the royal estate, which included many other villages.

Herluin was killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on September 20th 1066. His body was returned home and he was then buried at Saint Marys’. His name is recorded in the Domseday Book as being killed at Stamford.

However the name Herluin is not recognised as Anglo-Saxon, so it is most likely that the foreign chronicles entered the Frankish version of the Thegns name. The Anglo-Saxon name would have been Herewine (army friend) or Eorliwine (noble friend)

Saint Felix

Very little information can be found about Saint Felix, however the church is thought to have been founded by Saint Felix of Dunwich (who died and was buried in Dunwich in 647, built around 630 (and added to in the eleventh century). One of only three churches, the other two being at Cockley Cley and Caldicot. These three churches were all situated upon evidence of Neolithic finds. Geographically they form a straight line which if extended align with the standing stones of Avebury, Stone Henge and the Callandra Stones in Scotland.

A native of Burgundy who became a bishop in Gaul and who offered himself to work for the conversation of the East Angles. In 630 Sigberht, their king, came back form exile and the work began. Saint Felix undertook the mission with the approval of Saint Honorius of Canterbury and placed his Episcopal See at Dunwich (Though, now long since washed away by the sea). He preached with great success in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

He is the veritable apostle of the East Angles.

In 1922 the Reverend Wheller declared that all weddings and official ceremonies should be stopped at Saint Marys.

However on Saturday May 1st Saint Marys had its first official wedding blessing ceremony for over 80 years, the couple have kindly agreed to let us take a few photos of their special day on this very special occasion for Saint Marys.

The last baptism took place in April 1931 of Mr Peter Buckenham. There is a photo of Mr and Mrs Buckenham on display at the church.

Most of the gravestones have long since been stolen: the earliest remaining stone is that of a child, dated 1715 born to the Sankey family.

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