The Society: information and news

The Round Tower Churches Society is a registered charity with over 450 members, The Society works for the preservation of these churches and explores their origins and history and in the last 40 years has made grants to churches of over £150,000.

The Society was founded in 1973 by W J (Bill) Goode who devoted his retirement to a study of all the known round tower churches and published a key book ‘Round Tower Churches of South East England’. Bill donated the proceeds from the book to the Society’s grant fund and left an amazing collection of photographs which have been uploaded onto the Facebook Group of Round Tower Churches of South East England. Bill’s archive is available at Suffolk Archive Centre in Lowestoft, although this may be changing.
The Times and EDP (Eastern Daily Press) published obituaries of Bill. To view these go to obituaries

Join the Society and:

  • Help us in the preservation of these churches
  • Receive our quarterly magazine, The Round Tower
  • Increase your understanding of the architecture and history of round tower churches
  • Take part in our church tours see Church Tours & Events
  • Enjoy being part of a band of enthusiasts with a lively interest in this fascinating part of our heritage.

To download a joining form go to Join RTCS
RTCS Committee Members
RTCS privacy policy.

Society News

46th Annual General Meeting

Weybread Hall Barn, on Saturday, 11 May 2019 at 2.15pm

  1. The Chairman, Mr Stuart Bowell, welcomed the 32 people present and expressed grateful thanks to Mr & Mrs Gordon Tibbenham for the providing the venue for the AGM and for all their help. The Rev’d Philip Gray kindly led the opening prayers.
  2. Apologies had been received as recorded in the Minute Book.
  3. Minutes of the 45th AGM on 12.5.2018 were agreed, following a proposal by Mrs Linda Roy, seconded by Mr Brian Rowlands, and signed.
  4. Revision of the Constitution: the Treasurer, Mr Nik Chapman gave a detailed explanation of why the Constitution had to be revised and what had actually been changed. He had followed the advice from the Charity Commission as to what essentials were required to conform with the new rules and regulations. The purpose and objectives of the Society had not been changed, although a Risk Register had been added. Mr Bowell thanked Mr Chapman sincerely for all his time and trouble over the past year getting this all sorted out. Following a proposal from Mr Alan Gray, seconded by Mr Michael Coates, the amendments and the new Constitution were agreed.
  5. Chairman’s Review of the Year: Mr Bowell thanked all the Members for their continued support. Forty-nine people had attended the Study Day which was successful in spite of a few hitches (one speaker was ill!). Five Members attended a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate our Patron’s 70th Birthday. Two more have been invited to go there this year. Our Magazine Editors have stood down after 29 editions of the Magazine, and he thanked them for that long haul. Mr Pollitt has kindly taken on the temporary post of Editor and Web-site Manager.

Mr Pollitt then gave a brief explanation of the modest changes he is hoping to make to the Magazine. He would like to give it a more up-to-date approach, with news items and maybe articles of wider church interest. He said that Mr Tony Walsh had kindly offered to supply relevant photos. The web-site has had slight changes, with five new stories already added. Mr Pat Prekopp is managing the technical side.

The Chairman then reported that our Facebook page continues to be active and, like the web-site, makes the Society and its work known to a wider audience. He felt that recruitment of new Members should be the priority for the coming year. News of generous donations to the Society will be detailed later. These are exciting times for the Society!

  1. Treasurer’s Report: Mr Chapman gave his thanks to Mr Coates for acting as Independent Examiner of the Accounts, copies of which were given to all present. The balance at 31st March 2019 was £123,294.06, the increase being due largely to the legacy from Mr Stan Barnes, amounting to £78,238. This will not be kept in a separate account, but a running total will be kept of the grants from this amount given to the churches. He explained minor changes to the CCLA accounts and to Gift Aid. The accounts were agreed following a proposal from Mr Richard Barham, seconded by Mr Alan Gray.

Mr Pollitt suggested that the amount given to each of the Churches visited on Tours should be raised from £50 to £100. His proposal was seconded by Mr Kevin Scales, and agreed.

  1. Grants Report: Mr Nick Wiggin reported on the 8 grants given during the year, amounting to £14,500. A further £16,000 has been promised to churches where work has not yet started. Mr K Scales asked if anyone knew who was responsible for maintaining of St Benedict’s Church round tower in the middle of Norwich. Mr Wiggin will make enquiries. The acceptance of the Grants Report was proposed by Mr John Butcher, seconded by Mrs June Holden, and agreed.
  2. Membership Secretary’s Report: Mrs Teresa Wiggin thanked all who paid their subscriptions promptly. She emphasised that cheques must be made out to “Round Tower Churches Society”. Thirty new members have joined during the year, but sadly we have lost several members of long standing. As at 31st March 2019 the Membership was 449, down 32 from last year’s total of 481. The Report was accepted, following a proposal from Mr Alan Gray, seconded by Mr Coates.
  1. Elections of Officers and Committee: Mr Bowell stated that all the present Committee Members were happy to continue, so Mr Pollitt took the Chair to appoint Mr Bowell as the Chairman, following a proposal by Ms Hanson, seconded by the Rev’d Philip Gray, which was agreed. The Chairman returned for the following elections:- Vice Chairman Mr Pollitt (Rev’d P Gray, Mr Barham); Secretary Mrs Stilgoe (Mr Pollitt, Mrs Chapman); Treasurer Mr Chapman (Mr Barham, Mr Rowlands); Grants Officer Mr Wiggin (Mrs J Gray, Mrs Roy); Membership Secretary Mrs Wiggin (Mr Barham, Mrs Chapman); Committee Members Mrs Caroline Chapman (Mr Coates, Mrs Wiggin), Ms Jullia Hanson (Mrs J. Gray, Rev’d P Gray), Miss Kate Davey (previously co-opted, Mr Pollitt, Mrs Stilgoe), which were all agreed. Mr Pollitt was appointed Editor (Mrs Stilgoe, Mr Bowell) and Web-site Editor (Mrs Stilgoe, Mr Chapman). The Web-site technical side will be handled by Mr Pat Prekopp.
  2. Independent Examiner: Mr Coates indicated that he would be happy to continue for one more year. He was proposed by Mr Bowell, seconded by Mr Alan Gray, and appointed.
  3. Any Other Business: The Rev’d Philip Gray expressed the Members’ sincere thanks for all the background work done to arrange the Church Tours. Mr Pollitt reported that the restoration work on West Lexham tower, (to which we contributed a grant), has been nominated for the prestigious Sir John Betjeman Award for excellence in conservation. The finals are on 13th July 2019. Mr Pollitt also requested that those who had signed up for electronic copies of the Magazine, would please re-apply. The list of 72 names had not been passed on to him with the Web-site details.

Stephen Hart died in 2014. For an obituary and  information about Stephen Stephen Hart 1924-2014


Jack Sterry, the author of books of tours of round tower churches died in February 2014. A sad loss for the lovers of Round Tower churches. Jack’s books of tours can be purchased from the Society- go to items for sale.

Jack Sterry book 1  Jack Sterry Book 2  Jack Sterry Book 3  Jack Sterry Book 4  Jack Sterry autobiography

Jack explained his love of Norfolk and Norfolk churches in his autobiography: Almost a Norfolk Lad.

Shreeve bookDorothy Shreeve– known to Round Tower  Church fans for her wonderful illustrations of ‘The Round Tower Churches of Norfolk’ has died. Dot generously allowed the RTCS to use her illustrations. The book is now out of print, but copies are sometimes available at City Bookshop in Norwich or via Abe books.

Eddie Spelman, a long time committee member and supporter of the Society died in 2010. A piece about Eddie was published in EDP – see  Eddie Spelman.

RTCS has been given electronic copies of Messent’s drawings of Round Tower Churches. These wonderful drawings date from the 1950s are used alongside photos of the churches. The drawing are available on the Facebook Group: Round Tower Churches of South East England.

Runhall Onehouse Gresham

Most of the photos on this website were taken by members of the Committee. Other photographs are acknowledged.

Gifts and funding raising. Thanks to

  • Geoff  Swain who has raised over £700 from the sale of stamps sent to him by RTCS members in 2014-5. Please save your stamps and pass them on to Richard Barham who will send them to Geoff;
  • a local Norwich company who has allowed us to use their franking machine to send at a reduced rate many of the most recent magazines, thereby enabling the Society to devote more of its funds to helping churches;
  • Stephen Hart who has left the Society a legacy to support repairs in Round Tower Churches as well as articles & materials about Round Tower Churches. Some of these articles will be published in future editions of the Round Tower and others are being added to the website;
  • several people who have made generous donations in money and in kind to the Society including Mr T R Mee has kindly donated two of his fine drawings of Round Tower Churches- Herringfleet (left) and Cranwich (right).

St Margaret's Herringfleet by TD MeeCranwich Mr T D Mee


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.


Information about the Society- its membership, activities, financial report and grants to churches is reported to Society’s AGM in May each year and is reported in June edition of The Round Tower. To access this information go to The Round Tower Magazine