These two churches stand upon a high hill and are seen a vast way all about this county, to which they are a great ornament as well as landmark.

William Cole


By their twofold presence the churches of Swaffham Prior have always attracted visitors, many of them wanting simply to admire the phenomenon, others wanting to know "why?". Until now guides to the parish church of St Mary have been very brief and St Cyriac's has only recently been given fuller treatment by Roy Tricker of The Churches Conservation Trust. I have attempted to fill out the story of St Mary's and have combined my findings with Mr Tricker's on St Cyriac's, borrowing extensively from his work and bringing information about both churches within the covers of one booklet.

I must emphasise that, being no historian, my information has been gleaned from other people's work and, particularly in the uncharted early years, is sometimes conjecture. Often we simply do not know what happened. But it seems certain that this is a very ancient holy place where at least one church existed a thousand years ago.

I am particularly grateful to Roy Tricker for reading the text not once but twice and for his sound and generous advice. I should also like to thank Francis Riggs for his help with the background to Anglo-Saxon Swaffham Prior and for finding some fascinating illustrations. Copies of the Allix family portraits appear by courtesy of Mr Michael Marshall and of James Gillham who photographed them.

Elisabeth Everitt
May 1996

Edmund Calamy

Edmund Calamy

Edmund Calamy the elder (1600-1666), a notable puritan. A graduate of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, he was vicar of St Mary's 1626-1630. Calamy was one of the authors of 'Smectymnuus', written against Bishop Joseph Hall's claim of divine right for episcopacy. He opposed Charles I's trial and execution and later advocated the Restoration. In 1663 he was imprisoned for unlicensed preaching.

This portrait was bought by Lawrence Fisher in 1912 from Fitch & Co, 16 Great James Street, London, W.1. and left to his successors at the vicarage, Swaffham Prior.