The whole of this church was rebuilt under the inspiration of a rector, named Remigius, in the Decorated period. It was a massive and thorough achievement by a wealthy man with vision to replace a former Norman church. He became Rector in 1319 and many of the windows were completed before the Black Death of 1349. These have an exceptionally beautiful style of tracery, especially on the side walls of the chancel. Remigius died in 1359, and by that date he had completed his rebuilding. Elsewhere church building projects were stopped by the shortage of labour following the plague.
The tower is 120 feet high and a landmark for miles around; it is easily recognised by the top of the turret stairs showing above the tower roof. The base course of the tower is decorated by a frieze of carved stones, including a wavy pattern and three other designs. A further additional feature here is the carved trail in the stones under the first string course. The west doorway with its triple shafting has a glorious ogee arch and a fine west window above. There is yet another great window above that.
Foundations of an apse were discovered in 1870, which is the only clue we have to the former church on this site. The small size of such a chancel might have been the motivation for Remigius to plan such an imposing new chancel. John Wilson compares the lovely tracery designs here with those in the cathedral. cloisters, dated 1336.
Eight Guilds were a major part of the life of Hingham in the 15th century and they created more money to spend on their part of the church. This accounts for the large Perpendicular period windows in the aisles. The Guilds would have gone on to fill these windows with stained glass, but all their glass was lost in the 17th century.
A row of ballflowers along the eaves of the aisles, porch and clerestory were an additional embellishment in the 19th century.
The south porch was most thoroughly restored in 1874 with new windows, new roof and doors. This is recorded on a plaque on its wall inside.
The nave piers are a set of ten with the basic quatrefoil section enhanced by a further 4 half round lobes between. Above are the large clerestory windows. Hammer beams between these windows support the roof of 1871 with lesser hammer beams above the windows. There are small heads of civilians where the arches spring from above the piers. Both aisles have angels supporting the roof, and these angels hold shields to display the emblems of Christ's passion.
The pews have a neat floral design on all the arm rests, but a closer inspection will reveal some individuality. You can find dogs, a dragon, a fish, a frog, a butterfly, a dragon fly and some caterpillars. The pew frontals have flowers and fruit within circles and here you can find a song bird eating berries.
The pews are embellished with an outstanding collection of locally made, themed hassocks.
The pulpit, designed by Sir Arthur Blomefield, was erected in 1887 in memory of the Maynard Wodehouse Currie, Rector 1873-1887. It has a delightful figure of St Andrew, the disciple who pointed the way for others to come and meet the Lord. Flying angels support the pulpit from underneath.
A bust of Abraham Lincoln is displayed in a niche in the north aisle. It was given in 1919 by the people of Hingham in Massachusetts. In 1622 Samuel Lincoln was baptised here; his family were weavers; in 1638 he sailed for America, and became the great-great-great-great-grandfather of the famous President. The plaque here quotes the Declaration of Independence, "Malice towards None with Charity for All". The history of emigration from Hingham to gain religious freedom is told by other literature available in the church. Close by are other artefacts representing the transatlantic link.
The history concerning the Lords Morley. Sir Robert de Morley of Swanton Morley married the wealthy heiress of John le Marechall, named Haweis. He was the Lieutenant of Norfolk in 1337 and 1340. In 1338 he was commissioned by Edward III to guard Yarmouth against French invasion. He took part in the sea battle of Sluys in 1340 and the battle of Crecy in 1346. He died in 1360, a year after his wife, Haweis. It was their grandson, Thomas Lord Morley, who fought in Scotland in 1384 and in France, where he died shortly before the battle of Agincourt in 1415, and was buried at Calais. His heir and grandson, also Thomas, was born in 1392 and married Isabel de la Pole, daughter of the powerful Earl of Suffolk. This Thomas Lord Morley died in 1435, and Isabel died in 1466. Both are buried in this tomb.
The large shields across the front of the tomb display the ancestry and source of wealth of the Morleys;
1. The Morley lion impaling 3 water bougets for Roos (His son married Elizabeth Roos in 1442 and probably ordered this memorial for his parents).
2. Morley impaling paly of six.
3. Marechall (see history above),
5. Morley impaling de la Pole for Isabel's family,
6. Quartered de la Pole and Wingfield.
The Morley tomb occupies the prime position in the chancel with its soft red stone extending from floor to roof line. It could have been made by the same craftsman as the Erpingham Gate to Norwich Cathedral. Thomas Lord Morley died in 1435 as Lord of Hingham and Marshall of Ireland. His arms are central within a circle and supporting saints are seen around the arch. Above the brass there was ample room to use the space for an Easter Sepulchre. The figure of Christ tops this arch with seraphs on each side. The other figures, which have suffered disfacement, are on the left in descending order:- St Mary Magdalene, St Margaret, St John the Baptist, and St Katherine. Similarly on the right:- St John the Baptist, St Michael, A Bishop and St George.
Side turrets to the tomb are embellished with 4 layers of small figures set on pedestals, and at the top stand Gabriel on one side addressing the Virgin Mary on the other side. Finally a pair of kneeling donors plead before the Lord for mercy at the final judgement.
The figure brass of Lord Morley and Isabel his wife was destroyed, but the indent on top of the high tomb is clear enough to show that it was an ambitious London design with double canopy and super-canopy. He wore armour and she had a double horned head dress.
The Sedilia and Piscina on the opposite side of the chancel also suffered severe damage by the Puritans, where they removed all the fine canopy work and its former grandeur.
Other memorials include the Rev.F.J. Watt, aged 46, who was killed by bandits in West China in 1823, whilst serving as a C.M.S. missionary. He had been organist and curate in this church. There is another memorial for three who died in 1727, described as 'The year terrible for fevers'.
The windows of the chancel, both north and south, were glazed c.1887 with conventional figures of the Apostles. They serve to emphasise that the worship here and the creed is based on the teaching of the Apostles. One extra window is an exception with a unique geometrical sunflower pattern in striking colours, and an unknown signature, MWC, in bold letters and his date 1878. The west windows are by Charles E. Kempe and depict resurrection scenes.
The East window is described by David J .King as the most impressive display of imported foreign glass in a county rich in this field. In 1825 S.C. Yarrington of Norwich installed this glass, and to do so he had to change the shape of the tracery. It was made in, or near, Cologne, about 1510, and imported by a trader and bought by Lord Wodehouse of Kimberley for this window. The central light contains a figure of St Anne holding the Madonna with the Holy Child in her arms. Above stands the figure of St Thomas with T -square and a book in a pouch. The six side lights have four main scenes: on the north side the Crucifixion above and the Deposition below, and on the south side the Ascension over the Resurrection. In the background of the Deposition is a small scene of the Entombment, and the Resurrection also has depictions of the Harrowing of Hell, and Christ's appearances to the three Marys and to St. Thomas and St Peter. The Ascension scene includes the Heavenly Host surrounding the ascending Christ, amongst whom we recognise Adam and Eve, Moses and David, and Melchizedek.
This has been adapted from a leaflet compiled for Church Tours in 2002 by the late Richard Butler-Stoney.