The Mystery of St Botolph’s Chapel
Scarning had a church dedicated to Saint Botolph as is recorded in the Index Monasticus but, the chapel’s last mention was just before the reformation in 1514. There are over 70 such churches in England and so far details of 40 of them have been published in The Botolphian, the monthly newsletter of the Society of Saint Botolph www.Botolph.Info
The Church of England church in Scarning dates from the thirteenth century, but there was also an ancient chapel in the village, known as St Botolph’s. Records show that in 1210, William de Draiton. who lived at Drayton Hall, one of the village’s three manor houses, presented the mediety (or share) of Scarning Church to the Abbey of Waltham Holy Cross in Essex. Shortly afterwards, the Abbey was assigned a piece of land in Scarning known as Sponesbrugge (later Spoon Bridge) and a meadow between the chapel of St Botolph and Sponesbergh.
An extract from the will of Walter Jenyor of Skerninge, (the village has for centuries been known by many different spellings) dated 22 June 1504, in which he left a small legacy toward the repair of ‘Sainte Botulphe’s Chapell’, and a donation from William Pynchebeke ‘to the gilde of our lady in Skernynge,’ confirms the existence of this little known part of the village’s history. There is also reference to an acre of land at ‘Saint Buttolphes lane’ in the Court Books of Scarning Hall (located near Hill Rise), while in his will Thomas Hoo left six shillings to ‘the fratenite or gilde of Saynt Bothulph’.
According to L W Reynolds there is mention of a St Botolphs Chapel (but no evidence of parochial use) in both the History of Norfolk 1805 Francis Blomefield Vol and History and Antiquities of The County of Norfolk 1781 M J Armstrong.
Early St Botolph Churches (i.e. those founded in C7 or C8) tend to have similar characteristics:
1. All are in the eastern half of England
2. Most have Saxon foundations.
3. Many lie with 3 miles of a Roman road or well-used waterway.
4. Most are situated close to the bottom of an escarpment but well clear of water levels.
5. Many are strategically placed in areas which represent the beginnings, middles and ends of long journeys.
But where exactly was the chapel? There are at least two theories.
The first theory places it on the site of the former United Reformed Chapel on Chapel Lane, which still exists as a building but is now a private dwelling. That theory is shown in the aerial view and topographical map below.