About Us

The church of St Mary the Virgin is one of five churches in the united benefice of Thurton part of the Bramerton group of churches.

Public Worship

Everyone is welcome to join us for services and to take an active part in the life of the church.  The average church attendance is about 14 with 25 parishioners on the electoral roll.  Services are usually held in the church every week by the Rector or parish team.  Once a month we join with other churches of the Benefice, going to each church in turn.  Morning Prayer is said in this church each Friday at 08.30.

Other Events

With other churches a number of groups meet throughout the year, some regularly and some on an occasional basis.  These include an annual Lent Course; music group; Bible study and prayer groups; Alpha course; Easter weekend prayer vigil; Good Friday pilgrimage around the Benefice; men's breakfast and Ladies' supper.  From time to time there are confirmation preparation courses for adults and teenagers.

Various youth and children's activities are provided as follows:-

     Little fishes     (0 to 5 year old)

     Explorers        (7 to 11 year old)

     Halos               (11 to 13 year old)

     Rockaholics     (14 to 17 year old)

     Annual holiday club  (5 to 11 year old)

     Youth clus take place in various of the villages around

For further information please contact us via the e-mail listed in the contact us section.

The Church is a grade II* listed building and is a registered charity number XR 43715 and can benefit by reclaiming tax already paid on donations made under the Gift Aid scheme using the yellow envelopes provided.


Rector     Rev Christopher Ellis

Parochial Church Council

Chair                      Rev Christopher Ellis

Lay Chair               Arnold Miller

Church Wardens      Philippa Grant


Hon Secretary       Eve Redden

Hon Treasurer       Margaret Burgess


Organists               Arnold Miller

                             David Catchpole


Church Building

Ashby St Mary was probably the location of a Roman siting post and is listed in the Little Domesday Book.  The church is a mixture of mediaeval styles of architecture having been enlarged, restored and 'improved' over the centuries and may be the location of the Roman siting post and is probably built on Saxon foundations.

The core of the nave is Norman (1066 - 1190) and probably the original small Norman church extended east to the old brown carrstone Quoins.  The external flint masonry is stratified and one of the Norman 'slit' windows survives.  The greatest legacy from the Norman craftsmen is seen in the beautiful south Norman doorway with its very old door with massive lock which still remains: note two orders of colonnettes and Mass dials etc.

The original Norman church was extended by the addition of a new chancel during the Early English period (1190 - 1280).  In the north wall are two Early English/Norman lancet windows and a priests doorway in the south wall.  The elegant Bell tower was built in the 15th century with a small staircase turret.  Note the gargoyles forming the drainage from the roof.  The masonry of the porch contains Tudor brickwork which protects the south Norman doorway and is late 15th or early 16th century.

Inside the church the original wall plates which supported the mediaeval roof are still evident.  Although the tower arch has been lowered, the two fine lion corbels upon which the original arch rests can still be seen.  A considerable amount of 17th century woodwork still remains, the outstanding feature is the handsome communion rail.  The ancient and unusual alms box which has three locks may also date from this period.

The font is probably 17th century with a Jacobean cover and the bench ends are 16th or 17th century.  In the Sanctuary is a mediaeval aumbry with a more modern door and mediaeval roundel dated 1604 in the more modern east window.  On the outside of the east wall are indications of an original 3 lite window.  The ledger slabs on the east wall which list the Lord's Prayer, Ten Commandments and Creed are late 17th century.

There are three bells in the tower which are hung for swing chiming.  The oldest tenor bell is mediaeval and dates from 1424/1513 by Richard Brasyer.  The others are dated 1631 by W & A Brend and 1708 by Thomas Newman.  They were all refurbished to ring on Easter day 2009; the first time all three bells had been heard in over a hundred years.

The chamber organ was probably built around 1790/1830 and was rebuilt in 1866 by JW Walker.  In 1873 the organ was moved from Godstone in Surrey to Horstead Hall in Norfolk.  The organ was acquired by Ashby St Mary in about 1912.  The organ was completely refurbished in 2009 revealing a beautiful mahogany case (visible for the first time since 1866) to complement the newly gilded pipes.

The coloured glass window in the south wall is a copy of 'The Light Of The World' by Holman Hunt.  In the East window is a small Swiss/Flemish roundel with angel and shields 16/17 century.  The church plate at Ashby St Mary is an Elizabethan chalice and paten dated 1568/9 plus a large pewter flagon probably Jacobean (non of which are in the church).

The baptism and burial registers date from 1620 and the marriages register dates from 1766.  We can readily trace Rectors back to the 13th century.

The churchyard is dominated by the utilitarian concrete war memorial on the west side as you approach the porch which lists the parish dead of two world wars.

The tombstones of George and Ann Basey are situated immediately on the east side of the footpath as you approach the porch and have attracted considerable publicity over the last 25 or 30 years.  George (who died in 1876) and his wife Ann (who died in 1868) are shown surrounded by their flocks of geese and turkeys, reminding us of the fact that in that century and earlier, these birds were bred in Norfolk in great quantities.  East Anglia holds the credit for the domestication of the goose.  In the late autumn before Christmas, whole droves of geese and turkeys could be seen waddling slowly and noisily along the roads to London and Smithfield market.  The flocks could make about 10 miles a day, guided by drovers who were skilled men who had to ensure their arrival in good condition.  Apparently nothing could equal these Norfolk reared birds on the London market where they commanded higher prices for the table than those bred in other parts of England.  The sequel to this story is that an image of Ann Basey and her geese has now been incorporated into the Ashby St Mary village sign.


Last updated 12th October 2015