Old Churches of Benwick
At its peak, Benwick boasted a church and two chapels – but all of these have been lost over time. Currently there is no dedicated building for religious services, and they are held in the Village Hall. There are plans to build a church on the side of the Village Hall which you can see more about on the Church Page. This page contains some basic history on the churches Benwick has had.
Early Day Churches
The first recorded mention of a church in Benwick is in 1518 when a Chapel of St. James was positioned at the top of the High Street, where Chapel Farm now is. It is unknown how long this lasted, but in 1604 a map of the Fens shows a church on the opposite side of the river. An unconsecrated chapel was built in 1637/8, but again there is little information on how long this was around.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin
The Church of St. Mary was the first consecrated church in Benwick and was built in time for Benwick becoming its own Parish. The foundation stone was laid in 1850 and the church was completed in 1854. It was built in Norfolk Carr stone, with Caen stone facings, making it a unique looking church. It cost £2,500 to build and seated 400. The tower contained two bells, and a clock was added in 1871 by the Parish Council.
The Church began to tilt at some point, and in 1966 the tower was removed. The clock was then moved on loan to March Museum. Over time, more of the church became condemned, and the last service was held in 1980. In 1985 the Church was demolished.
Benwick Wesleyan Methodist Chapel
Benwick Methodist Chapel was built in 1833 when the village decided a non-conformist chapel was needed. The chapel was one large room which could seat 150 people, with a gallery overlooking. It wasn’t until 1923 when an organ was installed. Upon the close of St. Mary’s Church, the chapel was used for the Anglican services, and this continued until the chapel closed in 2005.
Benwick Calvinistic Strict Baptist Chapel
Benwick Baptist Chapel was first built in 1818, it being a small whitewashed building with a thatched roof. It was rebuilt in 1874 after it began falling into disrepair. The church there was officially formed in 1858, and prior to that was just a preaching place. The chapel was built on land donated by Gideon Gascoigne, and the 1874 rebuild cost £250 – raised by donations from the village. The chapel was used up until May 1963 when it was demolished, and services then continued at Hope Cottage, 1 Lilyholt Road.