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About this time the Rector of Feltwell was the Rev. Edward Bowyer Sparke. He was one of the sons of the Bishop of Ely and had been appointed Vicar of Littleport in 1830. He was very wealthy and during his tenure at Feltwell he built the Rectory, now converted to apartments and added the North Aisle to the church of Saint Mary, amongst other things. Th the 1861 census of Feltwell it shows he was resident in the Rectory with his wife, 24 year old daughter and eleven servants, plus a gardener living nearby.
Part of the parish of Feltwell, called non-parochial, near the Little Ouse river was becoming more and more populated as the farmers required agricultural labourers. There was already a public house, 'The Feltwell Anchor' by the river, but no place of worship, which concerned E. B. Sparke. So at his own expense he built a church which was known as St. John Little Ouse and a vicarage In the 1850's on the west side of the river in Cambridgeshire. Of my family, many were baptised, married or buried there. In common with other churches, although burials were recorded In the register, no plan was made of the churchyard, so unless a memorial was erected the Sites of graves were lost.
The earliest entry in the baptism register is 2nd December 1860 and the last entry in the marriage register is 15th June 1974. People were moving off the fens and the congregation was greatly reduced. The church was declared redundant and sold to a buyer who converted it into a two-storey house. As you approach Little Ouse along White House Road from the Mildenhall Road, the dormer windows installed in the roof can clearly be seen.
After the redundance in 1976, Anglicans worshipped with Non-conformists in the Primitive Methodist Chapel of Brandon Bank on the Norfolk side of the river until this too, closed. The Final Service was held in the chapel on Sunday 27th September 1985. The chapel was then sold as a private home.
St. John Little Ouse served Anglicans for 116 years and the Brandon Bank Chapel, opened in 1910, served Methodists for 75 years.
Opposite the chapel is the school which opened in 1889 and served the community until 1952. It was converted into a home and is now owned by Alan and Norma Pearcey. They have added a minstrel gallery at one end of the infant classroom and another gallery at the other end. With an organ and a wood burning stove, this room is ideally suited for musical evenings.
© Copyright Ron Barritt - March 1995
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