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St Peter and St Paul Church, Scarning - - 357024.jpg
St Peter and St Paul Church
Scarning is located in Norfolk
 Scarning shown within Norfolk
Area  14.13 km2 (5.46 sq mi)
Population 2,932 
   – density  208/km2 (540/sq mi)
OS grid reference TF954122
   – London  Approx. 100 miles 
Civil parish Scarning
District Breckland
Shire county Norfolk
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town DEREHAM
Postcode district NR19
Police Norfolk
Fire Norfolk
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
List of places

Coordinates: 52°40′20″N 0°53′22″E / 52.67233°N 0.8894°E / 52.67233; 0.8894

Scarning is a civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It covers an area of 14.13 km2 (5.46 sq mi) and had a population of 2,932 in 1,092 households at the 2001 census.[1] For the purposes of local government, it falls within the district of Breckland. The village of Scarning is situated two miles west of Dereham and seventeen miles west of the city of Norwich, on the old turnpike road between Dereham and Swaffham. Scarning is often remarked on as being split into two parts; Old Scarning and New Scarning. Old Scarning is the original hamlet-like village and New Scarning a more recent estate built in the 1990s. The New Scarning estate consists of a web of lanes all named after flower species The old village has been in existence for over 900 years. It was known as Scerninga in the Domesday book, Scerninges in 1199 and Skerning in 1253.


The parish church of St Peter and St Paul has occupied its prominent position in the village of Scarning since the 12th century and there have been Rectors of Scarning since 1299. The whole building, which is mainly in the perpendicular style, was extensively restored in 1869, when the gable of the chancel roof was raised to its original pitch for £1000. In 1894 the tower was restored, the nave buttresses were entirely rebuilt and new churchyard gates were fitted - all at the expense of Dr Augustus Jessopp. The single gate was replaced in the 1950s by the Scarning Mothers' Union and was refurbished in 2007 in memory of Fred and Lilian Hoskins. The churchyard was levelled and re-seeded in 1970 and Scarning Parish Council contributes to its upkeep.The church and vestry were re-roofed in 1979.The double gates were replaced by the PCC in the 1980s. The work of caring for the building continues. Recent improvements include a PA system with loop induction and a ramp to help with access. Switchgear and heating was replaced in 2007 with the help of a grant from 'Awards for All'.


In 1604 a local farmer William Seckar left his house and land to his wife Alice for so long as she should survive but that upon her death the income from the estate shall be used for "the maintenance of one free school, to be kept for ever in the said house, while the world endure, in Scarning."

Following William's death on 1 November 1604, Alice married again on 3 December 1604. Alas this second husband succumbed on 6 December 1608. Alice duly married for the third time on 7 January 1609. This husband died in 1622 and Alice did not find another. She died in 1638 but there were delays and litigation over the construction of the school. It was eventually opened in 1645 to general rejoicing.

By 1700 the school master was teaching the sons of the yeomen and farmers many of whom boarded at the school. These boys were kept separate from the sons of labourers so that the poor scholars did not contaminate the wealthier pupils. The labourers' sons were taught by the usher who taught them reading, writing and arithmetic during the day. In the evening the usher looked after the master's boarders who came to the school from all parts of Norfolk and Suffolk. Among these were the grandsons of Roger North of Rougham, one of whom set the school-house on fire, twice! Another trying pupil was Edward Thurlow (1731–1806), who engaged in the sport of cock-throwing, but later became lord chancellor and the first Baron Thurlow. Thurlow developed a lifelong dislike for the master, Rev. Joseph Brett, refusing to acknowledge that he knew him.[2]

The master of the school and incumbent of the church from 1761 to 1789 was Rev. Robert Potter, who became a prebendary of Norwich Cathedral in 1788. He spent much of his time at Scarning pamphleteering and translating Greek drama.[3] Among the school's pupils under Potter was Jacob Mountain (1749–1825), the first Anglican bishop of Quebec.[4]

By 1800, the schoolmaster, Mr Priest, had attracted a large number of day-boys to the school because there was no room for them to board. These boys came to school on dickies (donkeys), which were turned out for the day onto Podmoor. Mischievous village boys took delight in driving the dickies a mile or two to Daffy Green, so that the young gentlemen had to chase and catch their dickies before they could ride home.

Village Hall[edit]

Scarning Village Hall has served as a public meeting place ever since it was built in 1902. It has recently undergone major works to upgrade and extend the facilities to better serve the needs of the ever growing village of Scarning. The main hall is open galleried and can sit eighty persons to eat in comfort.

There is also a smaller meeting room off the main hall. The grounds to the hall are substantial and they lead through to the playing field on the northern side of the hall.

Parish Council[edit]

Scarning Parish Council consists of nine unpaid members who all live in Scarning and represent the village on various matters.

The Parish Council has many functions, but broadly speaking is responsible for the provision and maintenance of the children's play areas on the Water Meadows, the installation of play equipment on the village playing field, the maintenance of the roadside verges and hedges in some parts of the parish, the provision of dog muck and litter bins, the maintenance of some street lights, the production and distribution of the village newsletter, the maintenance of the church clock and the war memorial, and the repair and upkeep of bus shelters in the parish. The Parish Council's Precept for the forthcoming financial year is £30,000.

Parish Councillors:

Chairman: Alan Glister

Vice Chairman: Michael Steward

Councillors: Wendy Brown, Norman Eagle, Chris Farnham, John McSkimming, Heather Hudson, Jean Magrath, Les Spillman,

Clerk: Nick Hartley


  1. ^ Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes. Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council (2001). Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  2. ^  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1898). "Thurlow, Edward (1731-1806)". Dictionary of National Biography 56. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  3. ^ The Concise Dictionary of National Biography (London: Oxford University Press, 1939 [1882]).
  4. ^ Dictionary of Canadian Biography. [1]. Retrieved 17 November 2013.