Round Tower Churches Society

cropped-Little-Snoring-S-Knott.jpg  RTCS logo                        


Little Snoring church Photo by Simon Knott                                     

HaddiscoeChurches with round towers are unusual: they are found mostly in East Anglia. The Round Tower Churches Society (RTCS) was established in 1973 to help preserve these churches and to explore their origins and history. In its 40 years the Society has made grants of over £150,000 enabling us to support many of the English round tower churches.

Support the Society and enable us to continue to provide grants for these churches. Join yourself or give a year’s membership to a friend- go to Society. For information about recent grants and work in churches visit Grants. 

The Society publishes a quarterly magazine, organises visits to round tower churches in the summer months and sets up occasional study days.

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The next – last tour this year – Round Tower Churches tour is on September 1st 2018 starting at 2.30 at Worthing church. Worthing is near North Elmham (TF995196)

For information about 2018 and 2017 tours see tours and events page.  Information about 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016 Tours is in Archive 

Matlaske visited in August 2017

The Round Tower. This is the Society’s quarterly Magazine. Copies are available on line a year after they are published. Copies of The Round Tower for Dec 2007, and from 2008 to 2016 are available to download. Go to The Round Tower    

The Round Tower, June 2017 is now available on line. It includes articles on Sketches of the Rev R J Simpson; Thoughts of a retired carpenter on the Angel Roof in East Anglia; 2017 AGM information: Paintings of Haddiscoe by Sir John Arnesby Brown; enhanced image of Kerdiston round towered church by Trevor Ashwin; about Lead Roof appeal; more on Merel marks. Go to The Round Tower 

Hales by Simon KnottStephen Hart, a leading authority on round tower churches, long time member and supporter of the Society and author of several books on church architecture died in 2014. For RTCS obituary and information go to Society News. Some of Stephen’s analyses are being uploaded onto the website see Listing Round Tower Churches. They include: Beachamwell, Beeston St Lawrence, Bexwell, East Lexham, Fishley, Fritton St Edmunds, Gayton Thorpe, Haddiscoe, Heckingham, Herringfleet, Morningthorpe, Potter Heigham, Thorpe next Haddiscoe, Welborne

and many more ……. including Hales, above, a favourite with many people. 

Privacy policy. The Society has updated its privacy policy in line with General Data Protection Regulations (aka GDPR) which applies from May 2018. For more information see The Round Tower for March 2018 or go to RTCS Privacy Policy.

Round Tower Church Society Study Day October 6th 2018 at Stradbroke Community Centre
Wilby Road, Stradbroke, Eye IP21 5JN. Programme to include talks about church porches, formation of Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, seven sacrament fonts and a tour of Stradbroke church lead by Roy Tricker.

For more information go to RTCS events.

Prince of Wales Garden Party. Along with others from the organisations supported by Prince of Wales, five members of RTCS attended a Garden Party as part of celebration of the Prince’s 70th birthday.

Grants and Support for churches 2017-2018

RTCS paid out two grants: £500 each to Haddiscoe and to Wissett for work completed in summer 2017. RTCS have promised support for eight other churches totalling £12,500. Some churches have begun their schemes. Herringfleet church is sheathed in plastic with a top hat of corrugated iron while work continues to repair plasterwork and to redecorate and re-lead and conserve the glazing in three windows. At Sustead work on Chancel roof is nearly finished. Threxton is replacing the chancel ceiling.

In addition RTCS supported the work of ‘Raise the Alarm’ to the tune of £2500 to install alarms on some of vulnerable Norfolk round tower churches. Donations were also made to the churches visited by the Society. In 2017-2018 this amounted to £735.

September 8th 2018. Norfolk Churches Trust bike ride. Go to NCT poster about how to walk, bike or drive to churches to help raise funds for churches – BikeRide. Or go to NCT website

Raise the Alarm Campaign.

The Roof Alarm Scheme was set up in August 2017. Over £250,000 has been allocated to install alarms in churches considered to be particularly vulnerable. The money has been raised from Norfolk Churches Trust, Allchurches Trust and the Round Tower Churches Society working together with the Bishop of Norwich and Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk.

Roy Tricker. 
Congratulations to Roy Tricker on being awarded the British Empire Medal for services to Heritage in Suffolk. Roy is the author of a recent book Anglicans on High and countless excellent church guidebooks, two of which are illustrated. Roy will also be well known to those who attended RTCS study days for his talks, which manage to combine learning and humour.


News of some churches.

Hemblington All Saints Church, Church Lane, NR13 4EF Commemoration of 1918 – 2018 The Centenary of the Armistice. A series of events over the summer and autumn 2018 to commemorate the end of First World War. For more details go to Tours and Events page

The churches of Beachamwell September 23rd 2018. Beachamwell Local History Group is organising an event about its churches, The round towered church of St Mary’s Beachamwell will be the venue for an exhibition about the four churches in Beachamwell parish. There will also be displays at Beachamwell Village Hall, and St Botolph’s (normally closed to the public) will be especially open for the occasion. St Botolph’s has a fine Norman doorway and medieval bench ends. Beachamwell is between Swaffham and Downham Market.

For more information contact Beachamwell Local History Group at


Three intrepid photographers braved the snow earlier in 2018: Wickmere by Jonathan Adams, Gunton by Richard Green and Fishley by Jeremy Dickson, while Michael Cant’s photograph shows Lamarsh in spring glory before the snow.

A fine aerial photograph of East Walton in its setting by John Fielding.


Hardley. Bob Mitchell was out with his drone today (July 2nd 2018) and has sent us three wonderful photographs. To see more of his photographs go to





Herringfleet church is looking for funds for urgent repairs: these include rethatching the nave and porch, removing the external cement render and replacing it with lime render, work to masonry and glass of the east chancel window, as well to the electrical heating and lighting systems. The wonderful east window has been removed to prevent further damage from the winter weather. RTCS are committed to supporting the works in this iconic round towered church.In May 2018 Herringfleet church was sheathed in plastic with a top hat of corrugated iron.

Thwaite before theft Merton missing lead RTCS at Intwood  

Thwaite (left) and Merton (middle) had lead stolen from their roofs. RTCS were able to assist with replacement and repairs to the lead at Intwood (right).

Liz Barrett has sent us a great photo of Gissing (left)- when was it taken? And what were the children doing outside the church? Right- Gissing in the snow.

Lamarsh in Essex (left) and the scaffolding has been removed at East Lexham (centre- great photograph by Jeremy Whigham). At West Lexham (right) render removed from the tower shows the stonework around an early window.

LaMarsh Essex  Lexham after repairs by Jeremy Whigham  

Many thanks to Clippesby who donated a drawing of the church (left) in thanks for our support for their repairs. Vandalism at Shrimpling (centre): For a report

Clippesby drawing      RTCS at Shrimpling   

Threxton have been awarded funding for the development stage of their repair project. RTCS are helping them with a grant.


 News from Welborne. An update from Richard Took. The builders arrived on site October 2017 and removed the lead sheeting from the tower roof which was marked with dates and initials of workmen from 1700s. This will be retained and included in the new work. The structural cracks in the tower (some worse than first thought) have been stabilised, the tower is being rebuilt and repointed and the buttress is being rebuilt. The iron weather vane is being repaired and will be re-installed on the new roof. Work was going well but the inclement weather in March 2018 may mean some delays.

For more information about grants and work in churches go to Grants

Bill Goode’s archive is currently held at Lowestoft but is to move soon to Ipswich.

HLF Heritage Lottery Fund. HFL are consulting about the future of their funding. The amount of money they have to allocate is getting less as people buy fewer lottery tickets. The ring fenced funding for churches and other places of worship is coming to an end and churches will be competing with other demands for their support. This is a worry for charities such as ours which are concerned with ensuring the upkeep of churches and the important role they play in the life of their local communities.

Photos from the archives.

Three photos sent to RTCS – the first of John Sell Cotman’s graphite and wash sketch of Aylmerton (early 1800’s) and two paintings of Haddiscoe by Sir John Arnesby Brown (1866 – 1955). The artist lived at Haddiscoe and is buried in the churchyard.

Aymerton by Cotman  Haddiscoe 1 by Arnesby Brown  Haddiscoe 2 by Arnesby Brown

Gisleham Hardwicke Knight 1923  

Gisleham church. This photo of Holy Trinity, Gisleham was taken around 1953 by Hardwicke Knight, a famous NZ photographer. Thanks to Dave Murray who lives in NZ. He scanned it from a Kodachrome slide in his collection and placed it on the Round Tower Churches Facebook page.

HaveringlandHaveringland church, next to Swannington airfield. The plane is a mosquito. The base of the church has been painted white. For more photos and information go to:


Sedgeford with scaffoldingInteresting publications

Digging Sedgeford: A people’s archaeology has a fascinating chapter about St Mary’s Sedgeford and another – power and piety in Medieval Sedgeford – which considers the evidence for an earlier Saxon church with burials discovered as part of the excavations. Digging Sedgeford is written by the SHARP Team and published by Poppyland Publishing.

Shire Books have recently reprinted: Medieval Church and Churchyard Monuments by Sally Badham. Sally starts her book with the words ‘Churches contain much of the most interesting medieval sculpture in Britain’. The book is a delight with great photos.

Mike Page and Pauline Young have just published ‘More Norfolk Churches from the Air’. This fine collection includes Bessingham, Bradwell and many more Round Tower Churches. All profits from the sale of the book go to cancer charities.

For a great map and information about round tower churches and other religious sites try:

Patron: HRH The Prince of Wales. Registered charity No 267996