St Mark's

Church Road

A chapel of ease

The Anglican church of St Marks stands of the west bank of the River Great Ouse, north of the bridge. Now a grade II listed church it was originally built during 1846/47 at the cost of £1000. Rev William Joseph Parkes MA was described as the “munificent contributor”.

It seats 150 people and has a burial ground of half an acre and served as a chapel of ease, located two miles away from the medieval church in Hilgay.

Built of Guilt brick and slate roof with a simple rectangular plan. There are two doors in the south wall, and triple lancet windows in both the east and west sides. It features bellcote at the west end which houses a single bell. Its extreme simplicity indicates the influence of the Tractarian principles of the Oxford Movement in the mid 19th century.

1844 Purchase of land

In 1844 the Rev J. W. Parkes acquired 30 perches of land (marked in blue) from the Littleport & Downham Commissioners which was the former site of a drainage wind pump known as Carman's Mill. A Chapel of Ease was constructed on this land in 1845/46.

At a meeting in the Bell Inn on December 10th 1846, it was proposed by Thomas Scott that the balance due to the present rector for the erection of a chapel of ease to be paid out of the revenue of the church lands, from time to time as appropriate.

1850 Additional land for burial ground.

Additional land (shown in pink) for use as a burial ground, was given by the Feoffees of Hilgay in exchange for another piece of land to the north and west. The value of the land given in exchange was £19, surveyed in 1850 by Charles Munford of Downham Market.

War memorial

Just inside the gate of the churchyard stands the war memorial. Engraved on the front is "LEST WE FORGET, sacred to the memory of our brave boys who fell in the GREAT WAR of 1914-1918. Followed by the names;

William ArmsbyJoseph Kirby
George BedfordJoseph Missin
Alfred CooperHerbert Missin
George ChapmanGeorge T Moore
George DaySamuel Nightall
George FinchamWilliam Payne
George GathercoleHarold Porter
Frank GathercoleMaurice Starling
Jonathan GoochWalter Thulborne
Alfred HallPercy Walker
Bertram HallJohn Watson

1945 Rev J. W. Royan

Rev J. W. Royan was curate-in-charge at St Marks. He joined the Royal Air Force during the war as a chaplin. In 1945 he moved into the Ely Diocese to become vicar of West Dereham.


The new base of the war memorial containing the names of seven men who lost their lives in the war of 1939-45 was unveiled by Mr F Green. The service in St Mark's churchyard was conducted by Rev G S F Thompson. The Journal, Friday December 1, 1950.


A funeral service was held at St Marks church for Charles William Stone, who was born in the village 79 years earlier Mr Stone had carried on a business as a shoe repairer. The service was conducted by the Rev G. R. Garrett and the organist was Mrs V Houghton. The Journal, Friday July 13, 1956.


The tones of a single church bell rang through the warm evening sunshine at Ten Mile Bank on Saturday, heralding a new chapter in village life. The Bishop of Ely, the Rt Rev Dr Anthony Russell, re-dedicated St Mark's Church during a service attended by a full congregation of villagers, guests and local school children. Lynn News, Tuesday April 28, 2009.

Copyright Evelyn Simak, licensed for reuse this Creative Commons Licence.
Copyright Evelyn Simak, licensed for reuse this Creative Commons Licence.