History of St. Mary's Church
Newton simply means "new town" and the village was well established when it was recorded in the Domesday Book (1086). 'Flotman' is said to have been taken from a ferryman across the Tas, though it may have been a personal name. It is not known whether there was a church here then, though the site, next to a Roman road, looks early.
The Church dates from the end of the 14th century onwards. Major additions were made over the next 150 years. The building campaign is thought to have begun around 1385 with a legacy of £50 from Thomas Bumpstead for the fabric of the church. The building is mainly in the 'Perpendicular' style of architecture. The nave and chancel were probably built first, followed by the tower, the porch and finally, in 2006, a modem extension ("Room for all") was added.
There are two particularly interesting monuments in the chancel. One is the plaque on the south wall in memory of William Fortescue Long, son of the then rector, who was drowned saving a boy off Norfolk Island in 1915.The principal monument is in the northeast corner; it was placed here by Thomas Blundeville (1522-1606), most brilliant son of Newton Flotman, writer on mathematics, astronomy, navigation, horsemanship, history, military craft and logic! The London made brass commemorates his forbearers- father Edward who died 1568, his grandfather Ralph 1514 and great - Grandfather Richard 1490. The Blundeville family tomb is a fascinating illustration of the sort of man he was. In the centre panel he kneels in armour, his helm on the prayer desk beside him, while to his left, his two wives Elizabeth and Patience kneel dressed in gowns with big ruffs and Tudor bonnets. In the right hand panel is the brass dedicated to his forbearers. They kneel in armour. The inscription by the figures record that Thomas placed it here in 1571, underneath is the text:
Heare lyes in grave nowe three tymes done
The grandsyr, ffather and the sone:
Theyr names, theyr age and when theyr dyed
Above theyr heads ys specyfyed
Theyr shield of arms dothe e1ce declare
The stocke with whom they mached ware
They lyved well and dyed as well
And now with God in Heaven they dwell
And theare do prayse his holy name
God grant that we maye do the same.
Thomas Blundeville's daughter Patience who died in 1638 is commemorated on the black marble below. The inscription reads; she "lived virtuously and died religiously". The battlements bear the Blundeville arms as well as an inscription made out as "the swett pascion of ihc crist help us" dated 1531.
One interesting element of the church's history is that for 150 years (from 1797 to 1948), the Rectors were all of one family. In 1721 Mathew Long of Dunston Hall acquired the patronage of the living (which remained with the Long family until 1948). In 1790, Sarah Long then the patron, appointed the Rev'd Robert Churchman Kellett on condition that he took the name Long. He took seven years to do this! The pulpit was given by Miss Alma Long in memory of her brother Octavious Nevill Long, who died in 1890 aged 29. The font cover was given by the Rev. W. N. Long (rector 1917-48); the wood used comes from oaks grown on the Dunston estate, by a Letheringsett craftsman.
In the chancel a tall and obtrusive 19th century reredos partially obscures the Kempe glass there, but his west window is in full view, and it is beautiful. Inscribed to the memory of the rector's 21 year old son who died in the South African war the three main panels figure Christ the King flanked by Gabriel and St. George.
The Church today is a lively worshipping community that seeks to serve the people of Newton Flotman, both by prayer and practical care. The extension which was officially opened in October 2006 is home to our Special Agents, Coffee Stop, Church Mice and private functions like Birthday parties. Comprising a meeting room, kitchen and toilet facilities, it is also a useful place of reception and meeting for families before and after Baptism, Wedding and Funeral services.
A more detailed history is available on visiting the church. Ring Mrs Jean Wilson on 01508 470500 to arrange to borrow the key.