St Mary’s Church

A window in north wall commemorates Lieut. D.F. Hervey, who died in Cairo on 17.5.1917, aged 20,  of wounds received on the Sinai front. His father, Matthew Wilson Hervey, J.P.,  of East Bilney Hall, is remembered on a plaque below. The crest of the Norfolk Regiment is shown at the top of the memorial window.  Azure a Saltire Or, HERVEY

A brass plate on the pulpit is in memory of Rev. Henry Collison, Rector 1882-1907, died 26.3.1911 at Coltishall, aged 73.  His widow Harriet erected the chancel in 1883, and his three surviving daughters erected the memorial window that year. His son John lived at Bilney Hall, now a nursing home, and died 19.12.1863 at Brixton. Gules Three Cinquefoils pierced Or COLLISON. Their crest is  A demi-Lion holding in its paws a Cinquefoil Or pierced Gules.

The other arms are those of the UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, the ROYAL ARMS of Victoria, and of the  SEE OF NORWICH: Azure three Mitres Or.


                 THOMAS  BILNEY Argent an Eagle displayed Vert.

             Like his contemporary Martin Luther, Thomas Bilney turned away from religious images, pilgrimages, and the grasping worldliness of the church of his times.  A Cambridge don, he studied Canon Law at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and while there read the translation by Erasmus of the Greek New Testament, which enormously strengthened his faith.  He read the new translation (1516) of the Bible by Erasmus, possibly even meeting him there at Cambridge, coming to understand that God’s mercy came through faith, not ritual.

His thoughts echoed the Lollards of the 14th century, those followers of Wycliffe who denied the doctrine of transubstantiation in the Mass and wanted apostolic poverty and purity for the clerics and the church;  Norfolk men had died in the fire for these beliefs.

With Thomas Cranmer, William Tyndale and Robert Barnes, Bilney was thus a leader of the Reformation in England.  He was tried for heresy before Cardinal Wolsey, and imprisoned. Repenting, he was released, but again preached “heresy”, and Sir Thomas More had him arrested in Norwich and  imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was tried in Norwich, imprisoned in Norwich Guildhall, and on 19 August 1531, was burned at the stake in Lollard’s Pit, near Bishop’s Bridge



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