St. Mary's, Snettisham (3)
St. Mary's Church has a 14th century, 172-foot (52 m) high spire. Nikolaus Pevsner called it "perhaps the most exciting decorated church in Norfolk". The church was built about 1340, though the list of Vicars of Snettisham which is inside the church dates from before this time.
It is built of flint in the Decorated style. The spire, which can be seen from miles around and in centuries past was used as a landmark for ships plying the Wash, was not completed until 1390 because of the Black Death which hit Norfolk during 1348-49. The church's stature was evidence of the size and position of the village in that era and, even after the loss of the chancel in 1603, the building still remains a magnificent structure. The church also provided a model for Christ Church Cathedral in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada whose congregation recently contributed to the renovation of the "mother" structure.
From time to time the church, particularly the spire, has needed major repairs, and during recent renovations to the roof, a plaque was uncovered recording that on the occasion of a previous repair in 1806, the then church wardens were Henry Styleman (the local square) and James Lay. There are (or were) six bells in the tower. All were inscribed "Thomas Newman made me 1710". Owing to the condition of the belfry they've not been rung for many years. The Sanctus bell is more than 700 years old.
On 19 January 1915, the first Zeppelin raid over England took place. Since Snettisham was not then "blacked out", lights could be seen from overhead. This presented too tempting a target for one airship commander who altered his course as soon as was practicable and released a bomb which narrowly missed the church and fell on soft ground in a nearby pasture with sufficient force to break most of the windows on the south and east sides.