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History of Thurnham

Thurnham comes from the Old English words ‘born’ meaning a ‘Hawthorn-tree’ and ‘hām’ as a ‘village, an estate, homestead’; therefore, a ‘thorn-tree homestead/village’. The Domesday Book chronicles Thurnham as Turneham. 


Thurnham parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin. The Saxons built the first chapel in wood, which, in the 12th century, the Normans rebuilt in stone. They built a two stage tower in the 14th century. In 1586, Lawrence Wright cast and hung a bell making three. In 1798, Edward Hasted described the Thurnham church as being a ‘small building, consisting of one isle and two chancels, having a low pointed steeple at the west end, in which hang three bells’. In 2000, they installed a kitchen and bathroom at the base of the tower, without regard to ringing the bells. All ringing had to stop until reopening of the bells.





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