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St Peter and St Paul Church, Scarning - - 357024.jpg
St Peter and St Paul Church
Scarning is located in Norfolk
Location within Norfolk
Area14.13 km2 (5.46 sq mi)
Population2,906 (2011)[1]
• Density206/km2 (530/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTF954122
• Londonc. 100 miles (161 km)
Civil parish
  • Scarning
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townDEREHAM
Postcode districtNR19
AmbulanceEast of England
List of places
52°40′20″N 0°53′22″E / 52.67233°N 0.8894°E / 52.67233; 0.8894Coordinates: 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,[2] which eased at the 2011 Census to 2,906 in the same number of households. For local government, it falls within the district of Breckland. It lies two miles (3.2 km) west of Dereham and 17 miles (27 km) west of Norwich, on the old turnpike road between Dereham and Swaffham.

Structure and history[edit]

Scarning divides into Old Scarning and New Scarning. Old Scarning is the original village, which has existed for over 900 years. New Scarning, a more recent estate built in the 1990s, consists of a web of lanes named after species of flowers. Older names and spellings include Scerninga in the Domesday Book of 1086, Scerninges in 1199, and Skerning in 1253.[citation needed]


The Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul has occupied its prominent position since the 12th century. It is known to have had a rector since 1299. The whole building, 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 rebuilt, and new churchyard gates were fitted – all at the expense of Dr Augustus Jessopp.

The single gate was replaced in the 1950s by Scarning Mothers' Union and refurbished in 2007 in memory of Fred and Lilian Hoskins. The churchyard was levelled and re-seeded in 1970. Scarning Parish Council contributes to its upkeep. The church and vestry were re-roofed in 1979 and the double gates replaced in the 1980s. Care for the building continues. Recent improvements include a PA system with loop induction and a ramp to help with access. Switch gear and heating were replaced in 2007 with the help of a grant from Awards for All.[3]


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

After William's death on 1 November 1604, Alice married again on 3 December 1604. This second husband succumbed on 6 December 1608, and she married a third time on 7 January 1609. This husband died in 1622. 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 schoolmaster 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, to whom the usher taught reading, writing and arithmetic during the day. In the evening the usher looked after the master's boarders, who came from all parts of Norfolk and Suffolk. Among them 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.[4]

The master of the school and incumbent of the church in 1761–1789 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.[5] Among the school's pupils under Potter was Jacob Mountain (1749–1825), the first Anglican Bishop of Quebec.[6]

By 1800, the schoolmaster, Mr Priest, had attracted a large number of day-boys to the school, as there was no room for them to board. They 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 since it was built in 1902. It has recently undergone major works to upgrade and extend the facilities to serve better the needs of the growing village. The main hall has an open gallery and can seat eighty persons to eat in comfort.

There is a smaller meeting room off the main hall. The substantial grounds to the hall lead through to a playing field on the north side.[7]

Parish council[edit]

Scarning Parish Council has nine members, who all live in Scarning and represent the village in the various local fields laid down by law. Its Precept for 2016 was £30,000.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  2. ^ Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes Archived 2017-02-11 at the Wayback Machine. Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council (2001). Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  3. ^ Grants to Scarning. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  4. ^ Lee, Sidney, ed. (1898). "Thurlow, Edward (1731-1806)" . Dictionary of National Biography. 56. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  5. ^ The Concise Dictionary of National Biography (London: Oxford University Press, 1939 [1882]).
  6. ^ Dictionary of Canadian Biography. [1]. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  7. ^ Village Hall site: Retrieved 26 February 2018.