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Researching a Norfolk parish church

Bishop’s registers and visitation records

Bishop's registers

Bishop’s registers survive from 1299–1996, see list DN/REG. They record institutions to benefices (appointments of clergy) made by the Bishop of Norwich.

Entered in the earlier registers are copies of documents relating to other matters such as:

  • Appropriations
  • Presentations
  • Advowsons
  • Unions, disunions and consolidations of benefices
  • Church consecrations (however, there are very few of these)

An entry in the register can indicate the earliest presence of a parish church and its dedication.

  • The registers for 1299-1608 (except 1425-45) are indexed in DN/REG 17
  • Incumbents and patrons are also indexed in DN/REG 30-31, 35-36

Visitation records

The condition of the church building was reported at the bishop’s and archdeacons’ visitations.

Entries relating to the fabric can be found in the visitation process or comperta books and churchwardens’ presentments. 

  • For the visitations of the Bishop of Norwich, 1555 onwards, see lists DN/VIS and DN/VSM 9/3, DN/EST 58/4 and DN/MSC 1/24
  • For the visitations of the Archdeacon of Norfolk, 1560 onwards, see lists ANF 1 and 5
  • For the visitations of the Archdeacon of Norwich, 1533 onwards, see lists ANW 1-6, 11 and 16

These records are not usually indexed but visitations were held by deanery.

The Dean and Chapter and Castle Rising peculiars were exempt from the archdeacons’ jurisdiction, though parishes of these peculiars often made a token appearance at the visitation of the Archdeacon of Norwich.

The Peculiar of Great Cressingham was exempt from the jurisdiction of both the bishop and archdeacons.

  • For the visitations of the Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter, 1664 onwards, see lists DCN 76 and PDC 1 and 3
  • For the Peculiar of Castle Rising, 1714 onwards, see lists ANW 29
  • For the Peculiar of Great Cressingham, 1684 onwards, see lists PGC 2 and 3