The Church of SS Peter and Paul at Carbrooke is situated in the heart of the village on a rise. With a tower of 99 feet - the third tallest in Norfolk - it certainly is a focal point and can be seen for many miles around. It is also a very important Church which dates from the end of the 12th Century with a very interesting History which has made it the Church for the St John Ambulance in Norfolk.
At first sight this parish church appears to be a typically fifteenth-century Perpendicular church, but it was founded in around 1193 as the Church for the Commanderie of the Knights Hospitallers, when the Countess of Clare, made a gift of the lands to the Knights. There are several features that date from the early thirteenth centuryand although the church was largely rebuilt during the fifteenth century, it retains its importance because of its relationship to the Knights Hospi-tallers and the Countess of Clare who with her son was buried in the church commemorated by two of the oldest tomb slabs in East Anglia.
The Commanderie was closed in 1540 at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, but the church building remained, becoming the Parish Church.
The land belonging to the Commanderie extended over the field where the school now stands, and also across the field to the south and east of the church. When the foundations for the new additions to the school were being dug out a team from the Norfolk Archaeo-logical Unit was also present. Some fascinating finds of artefacts and the remains of the Commanderie buildings were made. Unfortunately it was not possible to leave these remains on show, so the founda-tions were covered over and the school built on top.
Originally the Manor of Carbrooke was split in two, with two churches, both mentioned in the Domesday Book: Carbrooke Parva, where a church was sited to the left of the bridge on the Ovington Road at Caudle Springs; and Carbrooke Magna, where the Church still dominates the village. In about 1424 the Church at Carbrooke Parva had fallen down, but stone from that was removed and used to ex-tend the other church, thus making this the large church it is today. The road connecting Carbrooke Parva to Carbrooke Magna is known as Drury Lane; this is believed to have originated with the local vicar of the time, Richard Drury, who used this route to travel between the two churches.
The church continues to dominate the local land-scape as it has done for the past 900 years or so and its historical importance is well documented. The Countess of Clare gave an amazing leg-acy to the generations of people who have been bap-tised, married and buried there and who have worshipped there over the centuries.
These days it is just a handful of people who attend the services regularly and who strive to maintain the church for the benefit of the 21st century village community and future generations. In order to help meet the cost of this they need to find innovative ways of raising funds and so among other activities and events. Christmas cards were produced for 2010 and a cookery book is planned for 2011.
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