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Sherborne Abbey (Dorset)

Steetly (Derbyshire)

Adel (Yorkshire)

Barton Seagrave (Northants)

Northants Fonts and Plato’s Cosmos

Ellerburn (Yorkshire)

A Cumbrian Miscellany

Tebay (Cumbria)

Ninekirks, Brougham (Cumbria)

Dearham (Cumbria)

Bridekirk (Cumbria)

Castle Rising (Norfolk)

Coates-by-Stow (Lincolnshire)

Norfolk Round Towers II

Merton, St Peter

For Other Norfolk Round Tower Churches Click Here

I am afraid I have only two pictures of this church. It was locked and the exterior, as you can see, is blessed with a certain symmetry but little else of merit!

If you look carefully at the tower , you can see that the base is different from the rest. The plain west door in side suggests it is Saxon. The rest is certainly Norman, however. The rest of the church is mainly of around 1300.

The literature suggests that there might be plenty of interest within, but I cannot confirm this unfortunately!

Rockland St Peter

The tower here is Norman and, like so many others, now has a polygonal top section, probably c15. The nave is thatched. The huge pointed tower arch tells you that there was a considerable amount of work done here after the Norman period. Underneath the arch is a fragment of the original rood screen. The current rood screen is from Tottington Church about 9 miles away. It includes the original parapet from the rood loft that would have surmounted it. It is a rather beautiful thing. What is it doing here? Well, Tottington Church is one that none of us will be visiting in the foreseeable future. Since the Second World War it has,, with the rest of the village, been marooned within the Battle Training Area within Thetford Forest. The soldiers are forbidden to enter and the roof is covered in blast proof material. The mediaeval benches were once removed to Rockland too, but they have now been returned - cut down in size and now too narrow! Will Tottington ever have a congregation again? It seems unlikely, and getting the MOD to relinquish land is like getting blood out of a stone.

Sedgeford, St Mary

Seething, St Peter

Sedgeford’s tower is Norman it was been crowned with an octagonal top storey in about 1300. Curiously, the nave and both aisles have been extended westwards so that it it protrudes from the church rather than standing alone at the west end. This is quite a grand church. It has two aisles, a Decorated style  south transept and a perpendicular style clerestory. The font is a rather battered c13 affair; square and simply decorated with a blind arch design.

Of the round tower churches we have visited, Seething is one of my favourites. The tower is Norman, possibly earlier and the nave is thatched. As you enter you are immediately greeted by the Seven Sacraments Font, dating from 1485 and mediaeval wall paintings beyond it on the north wall. A huge St Christopher is in his customary place opposite the south door. To his left is a depiction of three living and three dead men. There are many other wall paintings in the church, many of them quite well preserved and decipherable including Easter, The Ascension, the Assumption and so on. If wall painting was supposed to have an educational motive in mediaeval days then Seething had some of the more accessible messages for the illiterate peasantry. The lower portion of the rood screen is original and very beautiful. The upper portion was lost to the iconoclasts and replaced in 1858. This is a splendid country church. See also the footnote below.

Syderstone, St Mary

Syderstone was originally a Norman cruciform church. Unfortunately, the original tower collapsed rather quickly and was replaced by the present one in around 1100. The present west doorway (bottom, centre) which is the main entrance was originally on the later Norman south aisle and it has a Transitional look to it. Above the doorway is a proud little lion figure (bottom right) and this with its cusped niche must be later than the doorway. The tower arch is pointed (middle, right) reflecting the date of the tower. The south arcade has Norman arches but the aisle itself was never replaced. A north aisle was added in around 1400 and this too has gone! In the picture (middle left) you can see the filled-in arches and doorway on the north wall, again with pointed profiles as you would expect. So Syderstone has had more than its fair share of misfortune, but it is a pleasant friendly little place, well worth dropping into.

Titchwell, St Mary

Titchwell was firmly locked when we arrived. They obviously don’t anticipate visitors on freezing March days! The tower is Norman with what Pevsner was pleased to call “a dear little lead spike”. Really, Nikolaus? There is a well-preserved Norman west window and bifora for the bells that might be a little later. The chancel too is Norman

Woodton, All Saints

Woodton is another church with an ancient shell, some of it possibly Anglo-Saxon. The tower is Norman with the obligatory c15 octagonal top. As with so many of these churches, nobody could claim that All Saints is a church worth a long diversion, but it has its points of interest. The font is most peculiar. It looks for all the world like some modern confection but it is in fact the original Norman font that has been completely re-cut. The arch-shaped decoration is, frankly, ridiculous and perhaps would make us a little more appreciative of what the artisan Norman carvers managed to achieve with their relatively crude tools. Some of the Gothic windows are interesting. The one shown bottom right has an outline decorated with rosettes. The east window has even more elaborate decoration.

Footnote - Seething

Not too many words needed here. The 448th Bomber Group comprised 4 squadrons of B-24 Liberator bombers, of which nearly 100 were lost in combat in 262 missions. There are many memorials to the USAF around the East of England and I am always moved by them. Callow young boys from Kansas and Wisconsin, Oregon and Michigan giving their lives for freedom 3000 miles from their homes. We all owe them so much.

The control tower of the airfield has been restored. Please follow this link to find out more about this and about the history of the Bomber Group: http://www.seethingtower.org/

The following Norfolk Round Tower Churches have their own pages. Click on their names to visit them:

Burnham Deepdale

Burnham Norton

Hales

Little Snoring