This was the only case of a Norfolk village church being destroyed in the Second World War. The Architect was J Fletcher-Watson who also designed the Bishop's House in Norwich.

A Mosquito aircraft, returning to R A F Downham Market from a mission over Germany,  had been damaged and had iced up. Struggling to make it home, it lost height and hit electricity cables at Bawdeswell.

Following the impact the blaze was terrific and much damage was done to the church and adjacent houses. 




The style of the new church, rebuilt in 1953,  is neo-Georgian.  It contains a fine three-decker pulpit and semi-circular Apse in place of the more common Chancel.


It has an impressive Makin digital organ from Holland, and computerised tower clock and pealing bells by Smiths of Derby.







A fine misericord in the church - Boar at the Well

Carved by John Labouchere in 1953/4


 BAWDESWELL   Population – 830


Bawdeswell has grown up at a point where five long established main routes meet, including a section of Roman Road running westward towards Castle Acre.

In the past it has been an important stopping off point for the changing of horses and coaches and for refreshment.  There were once four inns, all closed except a small bar which opened in modern times.


Bawdeswell is the home of Chaucer’s Reeve, and he described the village thus:-

“Of Northfolk was this Reve of which I telle, biside a toun men clepen Baldeswelle.”


Much of the common land which formed part of the manorial economy of the time has since been ploughed up, but a remnant of  the Common, Bawdeswell Heath survives a mile down the Dereham Road.  It is all that is left of the Common described by Chaucer “His wongyng (dwelling) was ful faire upon an heath”.


Today the village is surrounded on all sides by flat arable fields.






Like Foxley it is divided in two by a busy “by-pass”, and from this road the shingled lantern on top of the church tower is occasionally visible, rising attractively above pantiled roofs.





Like many villages in the area Bawdeswell has developed from the traditional rural village to become largely a dormitory for Norwich, Dereham and Fakenham.  It supports a  good General Store, A Hamptons Restaurant, a small pub, a garage, and a busy Garden Centre.


There is a Primary School and a Pre-School.




There is sheltered housing, Housing Association (formerly Council) housing, and a large estate of owner-occupied modern housing.


There is a modern village hall and a recreation ground with a football pitch, a bowling green, basket ball court, and children’s play area.


Main employers are the busy General Store, Garden Centre, Restaurant, Garage and local farms.








See also