Originating in the Middle Ages, this device was used in order to determine the right day on which to begin the fast in honour of the Virgin Mary. It was important for said fast to begin on the right day, and as there were six days in the year that could qualify because they were sacred to the Virgin, the devotee would consult the Sexton, who in turn would spin the wheel. By randomly grasping a marked thread as the wheel spun it could be discovered which day was the most appropriate for beginning the fast.
St Mary's church > Link
has a round tower that dates from Norman times and is capped with a lead-covered spike but the building as it stands today was built in four stages, the latest being an extensive restoration in Victorian times. The chancel is believed to date from the 14th century. It houses a C17 tomb chest and monument to Sir Edmund Reeve and his wife Mary > Link
. The east window contains a mixed variety of medieval and continental glass > Link
which was installed during the 19th century and came from a Norwich merchant. The octagonal font > Link
is C15 but its cover is Jacobean, as is the pulpit > Link
. All the original benches were replaced during the 19th century restoration but the old carved bench ends > Link
were retained and fixed to the new ones. Unusually, there is a clock on the west wall > Link
- it dates from the end of the 17th century and is an interesting early survival in its original form. Fragments of early wall paintings have survived beside the south door. The church's greatest treasure is the Sexton's wheel, one of only two that have survived (the other one > Link
is at nearby St Mary's church > Link
in Yaxley, Suffolk, about 15 kilometres distant). St Mary's church is kept locked.
Update 2016 - the church is now open during the week.