Cycling through the Broads
The countryside surrounding the churches in Filby, Thrigby, Mautby, Runham, Stokesby, Billockby and Fleggburgh make an ideal place for cycling, offering quiet roads, gentle slopes and fresh air as well as the peaceful villages and ancient churches themselves. Along the way there are places to stop and eat or drink, watch the boats go by on the River Bure at Stokesby, take a walk along the boardwalk beside the Broad at Filby, or, if you have time, visit the wildlife at Thrigby Hall.
The first five churches you will visit are along the lanes and if you are not used to cycling, or have children with you, it is recommended that you follow the shorter route and, at Stokesby, return along Filby Road back to the start.
If, however, you wish to continue along the route and visit the churches at Billockby and Fleggburgh, please be aware that the route does include cycling along the very busy A1064 for a short distance and traffic here can be very heavy so great care must be taken.
The present church, with its thatched nave, is built on earlier foundations and dates from the 14th century. The first known rector in 1315 was John de Wyklewode. The tower, containing five bells which were rehung in 1886, was built in the 15th century.
The oldest item in the church is the font, made from Purbeck marble, which dates back to the 13th century. Filby has one of the best surviving 15th century rood screens in the area, considered second only to the one at Ranworth, which is painted with eight figures. From north to south the panels feature St. Cecilia with her floral wreath, St. George killing a dragon, St. Catherine with her sword and wheel, St. Peter with his keys, St. Paul with his sword and book, St. Margaret killing a dragon, St. Michael weighing souls and St. Barbara holding a tower.
This church, dedicated to St Mary, is an ancient structure of stone and flint and the tower retains a fire place and flue which, long ago had a oven used for the purpose of baking the wafer bread. Regular services are no longer held at St Mary’s.
This is a well preserved, thatched, round tower church. The village of Mautby dates back to before the Domesday Book, which shows that there was a village, mill and seven salt works (the sea was closer then). By 1199 the Lordship had passed to the De Mautby family, who held it until James I. Margaret was the daughter of John de Mautby and married John Paston in 1440. Many of the famous Paston letters were written by her whilst living locally. They are the first examples of family letter writing and give a good picture of life during the War of the Roses. They are now housed in the British Museum. She was buried in the south aisle to the right of the door, sadly neglected during the 17th and 18th century and pulled down.
Made famous in a episode of “Some Mothers Do Have Em” when Michael Crawford came through the Chancel roof! The church was almost derelict and has been gradually restored with help from English Heritage and the Norfolk Churches Trust.
St Andrew’s church dates from the 13th century, but various Norman mouldings point to an even earlier building on this site. The first Rector to be recorded was Thomas de Ormesby in 1283. This church has some of the finest brasses in Norfolk. The earliest depicts Sir Edmund Clere in a cumbrous helmet with raised visor and is dated 1488.
All that remains of All Saints Church is the chancel, the nave, south porch and tower having been in ruins since the great gale on 15 July 1762, when this building was at the same time struck by lightning and burnt out. Services are still held here occasionally, mostly during the summer months.
Fleggburgh once had two parishes, St Mary’s and St Margaret’s, but the old church of St Mary now stands in ruins in the centre of a field about half mile eastwards of St Margaret’s.
Burgh St Margaret’s was used as a fortified seafront, in the time of the Romans, at which time the sea flowed right up to Norwich. The first rector of Burgh St Margaret was Robert de Fileby in 1319.
The optional route marked with orange takes you along the main A1064 to Billockby and Fleggburgh. Please be aware that this is a very busy main road where great care needs to be taken and it is not recommended for young children or adults who are not competent cyclists.
If you are cycling with young children, it is recommended that you follow the cycle route marked green and return on the circular route from Stokesby back to Filby.