Langley Church

The Church of St Michael in Langley is a small but very interesting building.  It is built of flint in the perpendicular style and consists of a nave, North and South porches, chancel and an embattled western tower.  The tower contains 5 bells, 3 of which were made by C. G Mears, founders, London and dated 1852.  The initials R.B are to be found on one of the bells and it is believed to be Richard Berney, Lord of the Manor and patron of the church, who died in 1615.

In 1802, during a lull in the fighting against Napoleon in France, a wealthy merchant living in Norwich took a trip to Rouen.  There he found that 16th century glass which had been removed from Rouen Cathedral for safe keeping could be bought cheaply.  He acquired ‘seventeen great cases’ and brought it back to his warehouse in Norwich.  He advertised it for sale and in December 1802 Lady Mary Beauchamp Proctor bought a considerable quantity for over £220.  Some of this glass was used in the repair and the restoration of Langley Church, as well as other churches on their estates; All Saints at Chedgrave and St Ethelbert’s at Thurton.  There are many family memorials around the church and also a commemoration of the men of Langley who fought and who died in the 1914-18 war.  A small brass can be seen in the floor, in front of the altar rail, dedicated to Robert Berney who died on 23 August 1628 aged 79 years.  (A great age in those days).

The church is now used extensively by the pupils of Langley School and a footpath has been laid between the Hall and the church.  However, contrary to popular belief, it is still the parish church and the public are free to attend the services.  The building can be approached by the footpath across the meadow from The Avenues.  This field and the land adjoining it, including the pond, is believed to have once been common land.  When Langley School began to use the church for services the old box pews were rather inconvenient, but the present pews were discovered in a redundant church at Snetterton.  Although in poor condition, they were renovated and, along with the pulpit, donated to Langley by the Diocese.  A new organ, which came from Woodbastwick Hall, was donated by an old boy of the school.

The church is kept locked, but a key may be obtained with permission from the vicar.  The school groundsman tends the graveyard and a lime tree was planted in 1994 to commemorate the centenary of the Parish Council.  The Beauchamp family crypt can be found next to the church.