Monday, 26 October 2015

Raymond Sheppard and Round Tower Churches - Burgh Castle Church

Norfolk has 123 standing round tower churches (most in the South east of the county), Suffolk 38, Essex 6, Cambridge 2, Sussex 3, and Berkshire 2. Kent, Surrey and Orkney have one each which have either disappeared or are in a ruinous state. So "it is clear that the greatest concentration of round-towered churches is in the south east Norfolk" and the north east corner of Suffolk (Ashwin, 2005). Heywood, the author of the chapter on round-towered churches, goes on to explain "this convergence towards the valleys of the Rivers Yare and Waveney simply reflects a greater population of the area during the early Middle Ages (p.60). If you want to know more consult the many sources on the Internet (or books - love a library!) mentioned below.

Burgh Castle Church by Raymond Sheppard

Christine  Sheppard, in kindly sharing the paintings and drawings that her father did of round tower churches, presented me with a mystery, and she should know me better than to think I'd not give it a go!

Taken from as near as I could (my wife holds the reproduction we took with us)

I'm falling in love with flint!

St Peter and St Paul Burgh Castle was not difficult to find. As two drawings were in this area it seemed likely the mystery "East Anglian" church - as it had been labelled - was here nearby. The tower here is 50 feet and inside the church appears flat walled and the thickness of the church's walls are an apparent sign that the church was here before the tower. The nearby Roman fort is likely to have been plundered for stone to build the church. This tower is battlemented and dressed with flint as are others.

In taking the photo to emulate Sheppard's angle you'll notice that the two gravestones are now, if they weren't then, propped up and several other stones nearer the porch have now gone. If you look closely you'll see that a gravestone (see below) has now had a substantial tree grow up in front of it to block Sheppard's view if he were drawing this today!

Trees grow where they will!

Lastly we will look at a mysterious wooden building and a mill in the next episode of our journey in Norfolk and Suffolk!

  1. Heywood, Stephen, Round-Towered Churches, pp.29-30 in Ashwin, Trevor and Alan Davison (eds.)(2005), An historical atlas of Norfolk. Chichester: Phillimore & Co. Ltd.  [ISBN: 1860773494])
  2. Goode, W. J 1994, Round tower churches of South East England  Round Tower Church Society  [ISBN: 0952305801

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