There are over 650 historic churches in Norfolk….
...and I am on a mission to photograph them all
Galleries and bios of those I have visited so far are in postcode order below,
or click on the map link to view them by location
St Peter & St Paul, Brockdish
IP21 4JJ – Diss
Whilst on the whole I aim to be objective, I cannot deny that St Peter and St Paul’s is way up there in my top favourite churches I have visited. The first enchanting element that caught my eye was the stunning memorial to Mary Valence French.
St Andrew, Norwich
NR2 4AD – St Andrew’s Hill
With the surrounding streets and distractions of nearby St Andrew’s Hall, it is strangely easy to overlook St Andrew’s, despite its stature. From the outside, it is obviously a sizeable building and yet the sheer scale of its interior still took me by surprise.
St George, Norwich
NR3 1AW - Colegate
St George’s is a splendid, flint-faced church in the heart of Norwich’s Colegate. A church was founded on the site in 1100 but mostly rebuilt in the 1450s, including the addition of the tower in 1459.
Christ Church, New Catton
NR3 4LA – Magdalen Road, Norwich
Christ Church is one of those churches I have walked on by on many an occasion and oh how I now wish I had stepped inside sooner, for it has the most delightful of interiors painted in shades of duck egg and cornflower blue, with splashes of buttercup sunshine yellow.
Thorpe St Andrew Parish Church
NR7 0EW – 55 Yarmouth Rd, Norwich
The grounds of St Andrew’s Parish Church have a real fairytale air about them. With picturesque ruins, including a tower, it’s easy to get lost in the romance of the place. These ruins are, however, not a natural product of time, but were in fact purposely created by intentionally ruinating the medieval church that once occupied the site.
Our Lady & Walstan, Costessey
NR8 5AA - Townhead
At first glance, Our Lady & Walstan appears to be a rather austere building. Constructed in brick, its tall lancet windows sit between a row of side buttresses, and the east gable is adorned with a simple double bell-cote. The church’s interior is relatively simple too, but touches of rich blue throughout stop it becoming dour.
St Edmund, Costessey
NR8 5DG - The Street
St Edmund’s has a rather curious tower which sits awkwardly at the church’s western end. The top section is constructed in brick and houses the church bell. Unusually, the tower does not extend much beyond the apex of the nave and was once topped by a much larger wooden spire.
St Margaret, Lyng
NR9 5AL - The Common
The interior layout of St Margaret’s is curious in that the chancel is offset to the nave, giving it a somewhat disjointed appearance. The oldest part of the church is the west tower which dates from the 13th century, with the nave coming later in the 15th century.
The chancel was rebuilt in 1912 and houses a stunning altar cloth displayed in a glass case.
St Andrew, Honingham
NR9 5BT - A47
A lovely, well-kept church that is definitely worth navigating to off the busy A47. Dating from the 14th century, it was extensively restored during the 19th century and features several windows by William George Taylor of Taylor & O'Connor, London.
St Peter & St Paul, Salle
NR10 4SE – The Street
St Peter & St Paul is a vast, 15th century church with an abundance of charming details to discover. I was particularly enamoured with a carving of a small monkey. Crouched liked a coiled spring on the end of a pew, this cheeky fellow looked poised, ready to leap into the air at any moment.
St Margaret, Stratton Strawless
NR10 5LN - Church Road
The church contains two very grand memorials to the Marsham family, complete with
life-size effigies. Whilst the figures themselves are impressive, it is the eerily accurate carvings of skulls and bones at the base of Thomas Marsham’s memorial that I found most captivating.
St John, Waxham
NR12 0ED – Church Road
The interior of St John’s comes as a pleasant surprise as you could be forgiven for thinking it would be to the contrary. On approach the first thing you see are the ruins of the 14th century chancel which has been all but devoured by ivy.
St Margaret, Sea Palling
NR12 0UB - Church Road
The view of Sea Palling Church tower is one I have taken in many times over the years whilst walking along the top of the nearby sand dunes. On nearing the church, it seems to disappear mysteriously behind the houses before revealing itself again on rounding the final bend.
St Peter, Crostwick
NR12 7BG - North Walsham Road
When I first ventured out to find St Peter’s I mistakenly took an overgrown little chapel that sat nearby in the grounds of the local Scout HQ to be it. . It wasn’t until much later that I looked at Google earth and could see that there was in fact a much larger church hidden amongst the trees at the back of the common.
St John, Coltishall
NR12 7DW – Church Street
If you approach the church from the north, you will most likely be greeted by a charming couple in the form of a white dove and a pigeon. Here is where the unlikely pair have taken up permanent residence in an empty niche above the north porch and where they build their nest every year.
All Saints, Horstead
NR12 7ET - Church Close
On the day we visited we were fortunate enough to run into the vicar who kindly showed us around this lovely church. Whilst the flint tower dates from the 13th century and the south porch from the 15th, the majority of the church was rebuilt in 1879 by architect, Richard Phipson.
St Peter, Hoveton
NR12 8RL - St Peter's Lane
A quaint little church that is small in stature but full of rural charm. Unlike the many flint churches of the county, it is built from red brick and has a neatly thatched roof. Just inside the door is a stone drum font decorated simply with four pattée crosses.
St Lawrence, Beeston St Lawrence
NR12 8YS – Stalham Road
St Lawrence proudly stands alone atop a hill, its large round tower facing the nearby busy road that leads to Stalham. All signs of the medieval village from which the church takes its name are long gone and whilst the majority of the building dates from the 14th and 15 centuries, the lower portion of the tower is late Saxon, as is the north part of the nave.
St Michael & All The Angels, Barton Turf
NR12 8YU - Church Road, Wroxham
Whilst the church dates from the 14th century, it has elements such as the font and nave arcades that date from the 13th. It has an air of lightness about it, which is no doubt helped by its white ceiling and windows of mainly plain glass.
St Mary, Stalham
NR12 9GA – High Street
The initial thing that struck me about St Mary’s is the ethereal glow that radiates from the cleverly implemented lighting which illuminates both the interior of the west tower and chancel. This evocative golden light creates a wonderful ambience that I have not experienced anywhere else.
St Andrew, Framingham Pigot
NR14 7QH - The Street
With my unapologetic bias towards Victorian Gothic architecture, expectations for St Andrews were high. I was not disappointed. From the outside it is distinctly different from most other churches in the county. Its stone north tower has a real romantic air about it which would not look out of place in a Grimm fairytale.
St Wandregesilius, Bixley
NR14 8RY – Norwich
Tragically, the majority of St Wandregesilius was destroyed by fire in May 2004, in a suspected arson attack started with a gas canister used fuel to the church’s heating. Visiting nearly sixteen years later year, I found what remains of the church is slowly being taken over by nature and the structure seems more precarious than ever.
St Mary, Arminghall
NR14 8SF - Main Road
Exploring St Mary’s alone, I found it to be a pretty and peaceful little church. Whilst photographing the chancel I heard footsteps enter the building and turned to see who was there. I half expected to see the warden coming to clear up the church, but instead I was greeted only by the empty nave.
St Peter & St Paul, East Harling
NR16 2NB - Church Rd
Whilst the earliest parts of the church date from the 13th century, it was in the 15th that the building was truly transformed into what it is today. The work was funded with a donation made by Sir Robert Harling (whose tomb can be found in the Lady Chapel) and continued by his daughter, Anne, and her subsequent husbands.
St Peter & St Paul, Shropham
NR17 1DS - Church Road
Shropham Church is one of those surprising little gems I always hope to find on my crawls. It is noted as being the final resting place of the local author Mary Mann who, when writing about the village, rather unkindly renamed it Dulditch.
Cowper Memorial Church, Dereham
NR19 2AP - 35 Market Place
You would be forgiven for overlooking Cowper church, which is located on the bustling high street of East Dereham. Somewhat overshadowed by the larger, St Nicholas church, it is easy to walk on past the flint facade sandwiched between the Co-Op on one side and a pharmacy on the other.
St Mary, Little Fransham
NR19 2JH - Station Road, Dereham
Whilst St Mary’s can be a little tricky to find it is definitely worth seeking out. Dating from the 13th century, it boasts an even earlier stone font from the 12th which sits at an unusual angle upon four columns.
All Saints, Great Fransham
NR19 2JQ - Station Road, Dereham
All Saints dates from the 13th century but evidence of earlier activity on the site has been uncovered in the churchyard in the form of early Saxon pottery fragments. The church is simple in design with plain glass windows that bath it in light, giving it a wonderfully airy feel.
St Mary, North Elmham
NR20 5JU - North Elmham
St Mary’s has a charming churchyard, half of which has been given over to sheep who come here to graze from the neighboring farm. Outside, I also spotted a rather handsome gargoyle above the west entrance which, at the time of my visit, was sporting an amusing tuft of grass hair.
St Nicholas, Dilham
NR28 9QB - Church Road, North Walsham
St Nicholas is an intriguing little church with a curious part-round tower at its west end. At first glance, it appears to be of great age but the tower is merely a remnant of the
18th-century with the main church itself having only been constructed in the 1930s.
St Mary, Worstead
NR28 9RH - Honing Row, North Walsham
St Mary’s is an impressive church with an equally impressive and towering wooden font cover. Built in the late 14th century from the revenue of the local wool trade, it is mostly Perpendicular in style and boasts three painted rood screens.
St Peter, Clippesby
NR29 3BJ – Church Lane
St Peters is a pretty little church with a round Norman tower topped by an octagonal belfry which was added in the early 1900s. Other Norman elements that remain include the north doorway with its decorated rounded arches and columns.
St Mary, Great Yarmouth
NR30 2AJ - Regent Road
St Mary’s is a peaceful haven, nestled amongst the busy seaside shops selling the usual buckets and spades, just off Yarmouth’s famous Golden Mile. It was built between 1847 and 1850 and was designed by the architect, Joseph John Scoles.
All Saints, Cockley Cley
PE37 8AL – Swaffham Road
The majority of the church dates from the 14th century and it once sported a fine, round Norman tower, which unfortunately collapsed in 1991. In the 1860s the building underwent extensive restoration by local architect, Richard Phipson.
All Saints, Necton
PE37 8HE – Tuns Road
As you enter the church through the west tower, you are instantly greeted by the sight of the impressive hammer beam roof, complete with a host of angels. The roof was repainted in hues of burnt orange and red in the 19th century as part of major restorations, which also included the rebuilding of the tower.
If you are planning on visiting a church, please make sure that you check the opening times before venturing out.
Most opening hours can be found on the Exploring Norfolk Churches website at www.exploringnorfolkchurches.org