Parishioners from Bungay and Beccles were joined by others from Thetford for the annual parish outing on 22 July on an extremely hot, sunny and windy day.
The Mass at Thetford Priory was held in the remains of the Chapterhouse, concelebrated by Father Charles and Father Martin. After Mass people dispersed and ate picnic lunches in groups in the shade in the lovely grounds of the Priory. Some intrepid folk explored the ruins a bit more. Then some visited the Roman Catholic church of St Mary where Father Charles gave a summary of the history of this lovely building It was built in 1826 by Fr John Holden before the Catholic emancipation act of 1829 and solemnly blessed by Bishop Thomas Walsh, Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District, on 6 July 1827. It was the first Catholic Church to be used for public worship in Thetford since the Reformation and is the oldest remaining freestanding Catholic Church in East Anglia.
The Priory of Our Lady of Thetford was one of the largest and most important monasteries in medieval East Anglia. Founded in the early 12th century, for 400 years it was the burial place of the Earls and Dukes of Norfolk, and enjoyed their powerful protection. It was because of this that Thetford was one of the last monasteries to be suppressed when it surrendered to Henry VIII’s commissioners in 1540.