St Margaret’s Church

St Margaret of Antioch isn’t anywhere near Turkey. It is in Worthing. No, not the large seaside town in Sussex, the tiny hamlet in Norfolk. After my trip across to Hoe Common, (see the previous post) I drove Ollie the short distance to Worthing along the tiny back roads. This small community is situated close to North Elmham, the next village along from Beetley on the Holt Road, and where I go to see my doctor.

Just outside the village is this unusual small church. It has a round tower, and is situated in a quiet and peaceful location surrounded by fields. East Anglia is known for churches with round towers, and most of the surviving ones are in Norfolk, which boasts no less than 120 of these appealing structures. The story is that the circular towers were built as a defence against Viking raids in Saxon times, and they were later retained and improved by the Normans, after the 1066 invasion.

The tower of St. Margaret’s is a sad example though, as the top section housing a belfry collapsed in the 18th century,and was never rebuilt. All the photos are large files, and can be clicked on to enlarge further. The detail has been very well retained in these three shots, and you can clearly read the inscription on the headstone in the foreground.

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The south doorway was added by the Normans in the 11th century, though the large porch was not built until four hundred years later.

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Surrounding the church building is a well-maintained graveyard, still in use. From this angle, it doesn’t look that tidy, but I assure you that it is. I found gravestones from as far back as 1796, and some others where the dates had become too hard to read, as the stone was worn away. There were also three War Graves Commission headstones, of soldiers killed during the 1914-18 war.

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Despite being a Sunday, the church was locked, like so many others in this area. I was unable to admire the inside, but I did get a leaflet detailing the history, and notable interior stone carvings. If you are ever in Norfolk, be sure to look out for the round tower churches. Information about them them is available here. http://www.roundtowers.org.uk/

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41 thoughts on “St Margaret’s Church

  1. I think the round churches in England are wonderful. Of course my favourite one is the Round Church in Cambridge, but there are many beauties in Norfolk as well. Smashing photos! πŸ™‚

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  2. I visited quite a few in Ireland whilst whizzing around the countryside, like Ed I thought they were an Irish peculiarity. I remember one that I visited, located in the middle of a farm yard, a knock on the door and a request for the key and we had privileged access to our own tower for an hour or so πŸ™‚

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    1. There is a phone number to ring for the key to this one, Eddy. I was just visiting on the fly though, and running a bit late by the time I got to Worthing. Maybe next visit.
      Cheers, Pete.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Jo, it is most welcome. I confess that I have not watched the TV programme you mention, though I have seen it advertised. Norfolk is very different, and has great beauty on offer, once you know where to look. After 3 years, I am still exploring, and have much to discover. No regrets at all. (Except having to drive everywhere, perhaps!)
      Best wishes from Beetley, Pete.

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    1. One of these days, I will arrange to get the key. I hope that it is simple inside. I am not at all religious, but in my experience, the simpler churches are more spiritual.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. I love your little plain looking church, though it does look slightly unbalanced with that tower missing! Looking around the churches in Norfolk was one of the things I really enjoyed so it is nice to see some more.

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  4. Fascinating πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚ Something to look out for if I am ever over your way again. Celtic and Saxon churches are so much more my style than the later Gothic ones.

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    1. Thanks, Ros. I have to agree that there is a pleasing simplicity about Saxon-origin churches. Whilst the ornamental Gothic edifices may be impressive, the less ostentatious early churches seem to embody the philosophy that caused them to be built in the first place.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  5. Great find Pete, I was always under the impression that the round towers were unique to Ireland. Obiously no the case. The stone work looks to have been redone from a later period, obiously repairs. Would be great to know what the tower actually looked like in its original state. In my experience, most had a conical cap, but on the odd occasion, they were modified such as the one in Kildare which is topped off with Merlons.
    Thanks for sharing such an interesting find πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks, Ed. If you want to use one of these for your ancient buildings series, feel free. You may well have to reduce the file size though. Let me know if you want me to send you one by e-mail, or you can use one off the blog.

      It seems that the stonework was extensively renovated. At first in the 13th century, and then again in the 19th. The knapped flints in the stone are indicative of the 13th century, according to the leaflet. The later stone work from the 19th century is also mentioned, and the parapet was repaired in 2011. They do not show an impression of what it might originally have looked like, but I hope to find some in better condition elsewhere. There are many more round tower churches to explore here, so look out for more in the future.

      Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. That would be great Pete, I’ll squeeze it in on Wednesdays Challenge and link back to your article. Photos should not be a problem. Ive come across these in all shapes and sizes, and even managed to climb a few πŸ™‚
        They are fascinating, cant wait to see what else you find πŸ™‚

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