St. Mary's Church

The heart of the village ...

Church History

Paul Cattermole researched and wrote a short treatise on the history of St. Mary's Church, Tharston.


There is a list of Tharston vicars from 1273 to present day - this is in the process of being checked so please let us know if you can add anything to it or if you have any information about any of those named. (Current version in MS Word or PDF format)

The Harvey Mausoleum

In St. Marys' Churchyard is a plain brick mausoleum with stone dressings and a slate roof. The doorway is flanked by pilasters which support a straight cornice, and there is a date stone at the apex of the pedimental gable. It was built in 1855 by Sir Robert Harvey to a design probably by architect Thomas Jeckyll. It is very similar to the Boileau mausoleum at Ketteringham of much the same date.
The Harvey Mausoleum
The Harvey Mausoleum
Lieutenant General Sir Robert Harvey (1785-1861) was a distinguished soldier who acted as ADC to the Duke of Wellington at the battles of Oporto, Busaco, Salamanca, Vittoria, Nive, Nivelle, Orthez and Toulouse, and at the sieges of Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajos, Burgos and St Sebastian. He married his wife, Charlotte (d.1869) in 1815 and they had three sons and three daughters. All married except the youngest daughter, Maria Frances, who remained at home. Perhaps it was her death in 1854 that prompted Sir Robert to build the family mausoleum. The condition of this mausoleum is deteriorating. The walls are sound but there is a major problem developing at the north-east corner, which is falling away (2002).

Under the alter ...

Whilst undertaking some interior repairs the altar had to be moved and having removed the carpeting three stones were found.

To date very little information has been found relating to the Hannah Brewster or any other Brewster in Tharston but the positioning of the stone must mean they were quite an eminent, and affluent, local family. The only possible Brewster references are for the marriage on 3rd December 1781 of Judith Brewster to Henry Bunn and of the baptisms of their children.

Internet research shows that three generations of Hodges were the Vicar of Tharston, all with the forename of Abel. At the Restoration in 1661, Abel Hodges, A. M. held the living linked with Tibenham. In 1678, Abel Hodges, A. M. (left stone above) succeeded as vicar upon his father's death. Upon his death in 1720, Abel Hodges his son (right stone above) held it first linked with Wacton-Parva and later with Brockdish until his death in 1729. More details on the early vicars of Tharston are available on the British History Online in the section on Hundred of Depwade and Tharston.

Interestingly the A.M. after the elder Abel Hodges' name is thought to be "Artium Magister" the latin equivalent to the university degree now M.A. or Master of Arts. The same is found after the name of the Abel Hodges who preceeded the two commemorated by the stones. The word "Clerke" after the younger Abel's name is probably a derivative word from the Latin clericus, meaning a man in Holy Orders.

In Paul Cattermole's description of the interior of St. Mary's it speaks of "two small lozenges of white marble, commemorating a father and son, both called Abel Hodges, who were 18th-century vicars of Tharston, recorded by Tom Martin c. 1735, have disappeared". We now know where they were hiding!

... and under the nave carpet

Frances Wood, d. 1751
Frances Wood, d. 1751

The inscription reads:

In Memory of
FRANCES the Daughter of
who died Decr 17th 1751
Aged 22 Years

who under this Marble sleeps till the last Trumpet shall awaken
Her to a Happy Immortality. She had a Beautifull and Charmg
Person. with a Grace full and Pleasing Manner. a Countenance
Ever serene & Calm Expressed the Peace and Dove like Innocene
of Her Soul with Exceeding Good Sense. She had so sweet a
Temper and was so sincere a Friend that to be much Acquainted
and not Esteme and Love her was Impossible. She never Avoided Company tho she Loved & Preferid Retirement when at Liberty
to Chuse. She fought ye * shade She was in an Eminent Degree
Mistress of those Both usefull & Ornamental Accomplishments of
Neatness Prudence & Aconomy. She Paid a Daily and Willing
Devotion to her God and so well Discharged Each Relative
Duty that she Never Gave her Parents or Sisters Grief but
when she died. she supported ye * Miseries of a Lingering Distempi **
with Invincible Patience and Beheld the Sure & near Approach
of Death with ye * Courage & Resignation of a Primitive Saint
to the Irreparable Loss of her Relations and Friends she
Left this life but to their Joy retired to a Celestial Habitation.
Requiescat in Pace ***

Notes on the wording:

* ye or y - abrieviation for "the" - alteration of Middle English þe the, from Old English þē; from the use of the letter y by printers and scribes of late Middle English to represent þ (th) of earlier manuscripts

** Distempi - latin: literally "not in this time" - illness, absence of mind

*** Requiescat in Pace - latin: Rest in Peace

The inscription, being so long, must have cost a great amount to have carved, again indicating that the family would have been quite wealthy. Frances died relatively young, having suffered ill health. We also know that she had sisters. There is no reference to her burial in the Tharston burial records.

Parish Newsletters

We have been given copies of the Tharston Parish News Sheets for what we believe to be May, June and July of 1979 and give a good idea as to the activities of the church and village at that time. Transcriptions of these can be downloaded; MS Word, PDF.

The Bells

Photo accompanying the Eastern Daily Press article - date unknown

It is thought that this photo is of the bell that was recast.

The Choir

This is a photo of the choir at the time of the rededicatiuon of the bells:

Names to faces .....

1 . ? (forename unknown) Blake (daughter of Margaret Blake); 2. Abigail Morris; 3. Lucy Thwaite; 4. Debra Harvey; 5. Diane Blake; 6. Michael Blake; 7. Helen Fairlie; 8. Melanie Terrington; 9. Sally Blake; 10. Emma James; 11, Julie Harvey; 12. Catherine Fairlie; 13. Fiona Blake; 14. Bobby Jeeves; 15. Sharon Littlejohn; 16. Amanda Lonsdale; 17. Alice Thwaite; 18. Sally Anderson; 19. Harry Thomas S Duffield; 20. Rev'd Oswald Glass

Does anyone know the forename of no.1 ?

Church Fetes and Events

Tharston, sometimes associated with nearby villages, has had many village fetes and events.

The above poster was for the Tasburgh and Tharston Church Fete, the year unknown.

We do not know which year this was? We know that it was post decimalisation and that the 22nd July was a Saturday so possible years are 1972, 1978, 1989, 1995, 2000 and 2006. All sideshows at 5p might give an idea - probably one of the earlier dates?

St. Mary's Church, Tharston, by David Talks

The image below was shown to us by a local resident and it is thought that it typifies the tranquil surroundings of St. Mary's Church.

Tharston Church, a watercolour by David Talks
Tharston Church, a watercolour by David Talks

To ensure that we did not publish a picture without the artist's consent, we contacted David Talks who has graciously given us his blessing to show this lovely watercolour on our site. Thank you, David.

Self-taught artist David Talks lives in Norwich and turned to painting professionally in 1988.
He has painted widely in France, Italy and The Far East, though his first love has always been painting on the Norfolk and Suffolk coast.

He has exhibited with the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour, Royal Society of Marine Artists, and with Thompson's Galleries, London and Aldeburgh, together with Mandell's Gallery, Norwich. From 1998 - 2008 he held annual one man shows at the Galeries Lespinasse in Rouen, whilst also arranging exhibitions for the East Anglian artists in Rouen and for Rouen artists in Norwich as part of the Norwich-Rouen twinning link.

He is a past President of the Rugby and District Art Society, a former Chairman and President of the Norfolk Art Circle and a past member of the Coventry and Warwickshire Society of Artsists.

He began painting in watercolour while teaching French and Russian at Gresham's School, Holt and then at Rugby School.

Church interior photo gallery

Church exterior photo gallery