The Round Tower Churches of East Anglia

Round tower churches are not only unique in structure, they are unique in location too. Predominantly found in England, the vast majority of these churches are in the region of East Anglia.

According to the Round Tower Church Society, of the 181 remaining structures in England, 126 are in Norfolk (my home county), 42 are in Suffolk, 6 are in Essex and 2 are in Cambridgeshire.

Lessons in local history from my dad

Despite constant efforts to ignore him, I’ve learned a lot of what I know about round tower churches from my dad.

Before retirement, his job took him all over the county of Norfolk, allowing him to tick off lots of the churches tucked away in rural locations and develop pretty enviable knowledge of Norfolk and its quirky churches.

Ask him about a sleepy Norfolk village and he’ll be able to tell you what the school is like (part of his job), and whether there is a round tower church there or not (definitely not part of his job).

When you realise you’re more like your parents than you’d care to admit

It was on a walk with my dad in Coltishall (deciding to stop off in nearby Hautbois) that I finally realised that after years of smirking through his miniature sorations on the latest church he’d visited (sorry dad), I’d actually absorbed some of the fondness that he has for these unique structures and their local history.

I hate to admit it but he had managed to spark my interest.

A tally of round-tower churches

I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting even half of the round tower churches that my dad has but I’m making it my personal mission to try. I don’t hold out much hope for my ability to rival him in the amount of local churches he has managed to visit but I do take some small pleasure in visiting one he hasn’t managed to get to yet.

I’ve started to share some of the round tower churches I’ve managed to visit, a bit about their history and the locations of East Anglia’s round towers below:

St Theobald’s Round-Tower Church – Hautbois, Norfolk

Great Hautbois round tower church Norfolk

Even though it’s in a state of ruin, the church comes alive in springtime with a carpet of daffodils.

Ancient English Graveyard

Everything, including the graffiti inside the church, is pretty old.

Ancient Stone Carving


Why are the towers round?

Many of the round tower churches of East Anglia are Anglo Saxon of origin, the reasoning for their unique towers is somewhat disputed (most heavily by my dad and his friend).

One school of thought is that, due to the building materials available in East Anglia at the time the churches were being built, their creators were subsequently limited in building techniques too. Round tower churches are predominantly built from the local flint which is a difficult material to construct corners with as it is not easy to cut or work the stones into the correct shape. Because of this, it’s believed that this is the reason that the churches have distinctive, thick round walls instead.

The other opinion is that the towers were built as defensive structures against raids (with the towers having been built first and the churches added later). This one tends to be a less popular opinion for many reasons; the same limitations on building techniques would most likely have affected how high the towers were built (hence them often being short). The towers also often appear to have flat walls where they join to the main structure of the building (indicating that they were added to the church and not the other way around).

Aslacton, St Michael

Parts of south Norfolk are believed to have a particularly high concentration of medieval churches. Yet hidden gems like Aslacton St Michael can be a little difficult to find. Luckily, on my trip to Aslacton, I had a local guide (my boyfriend) to help me navigate the little country lanes that lead to the church.

This charming little round tower is believed to be late Saxon in origin and underwent restoration in 1890.

Aslacton St Michael round tower church South Norfolk

Forncett, St Peter

Forncett St Peter is a popular example of one of Norfolk’s medieval round tower churches, it is even believed to have features that date back to Saxon and even Roman periods.

Unfortunately, the church itself was locked during my visit but I took a respectful walk around the grounds to take in the impressive tower. Visiting church grounds like Forncett is extra special on a bright spring day as there often lots of flowers, like crocus and snowdrops littering the ground.

Where to find the round towers of East Anglia.


Acle, St Edmund
Ashmanhaugh, St Swithin
Aslacton, St Michael
Aylmerton, St John the Baptist
Barmer, All Saints
Bawburgh, St Mary and St Walstan
Beachamwell, St Mary
Bedingham, St Andrew
Beeston, St Lawrence
Belton, All Saints
Bessingham, St Andrew
Bexwell, St Mary
Bradwell, St Nicholas
Brampton, St Peter
Brandiston, St Nicholas
Breckles, St Margaret
Brooke, St Peter
Burgh Castle, St Peter and St Paul
Burnham Deepdale, St Mary
Burnham Norton, St Margaret
Bylaugh, St Mary
Clippesby, St Peter
Cockley Cley, All Saints
Colney, St Andrew
Cranwich, St Mary
Croxton, All Saints
Denton, St Mary
Dilham, St Nicholas
East Lexham, St Andrew
East Walton, St Mary
Eccles, St Mary
Edingthorpe, All Saints
Feltwell, St Nicholas
Fishley, St Mary
Forncett, St Peter
Framingham Earl, St Andrew
Freethorpe, All Saints
Fritton, St Catherine
Fritton, St Edmund
Gayton Thorpe, St Mary
Geldeston, St Michael
Gissing, St Mary
Great Hautbois, St Mary
Great Ryburgh, St Andrew
Gresham, All Saints
Haddiscoe, St Mary
Hales, St Margaret
Hardley, St Margaret
Hardwick, St Margaret
Hassingham, St Mary
Haveringland, St Peter
Heckingham, St Gregory
Hellington, St John the Baptist
Hemblington, All Saints
Horsey, All Saints
Howe, St Mary
Ingworth, St Lawrence
Intwood, All Saints
Keswick, All Saints
Kilverstone, St Andrew
Kirby Cane, All Saints
Letheringsett, St Andrew
Little Plumstead, St Protase and St Gervase
Little Snoring, St Andrew
Long Stratton, St Mary
Matlaske, St Peter
Mautby, St Peter and St Paul
Merton, St Peter
Morningthorpe, St John the Baptist
Morton on the Hill, St Margaret
Moulton, St Mary
Needham, St Peter
Norwich, St Benedict (Tower)
Norwich, St Etheldreda
Norwich, St Julian
Norwich, St Mary at Coslany
Norton Subcourse, St Mary
Old Catton, St Margaret
Poringland, All Saints
Potter Heigham, St Nicholas
Quidenham, St Andrew
Raveningham, St Andrews
Repps-with-Bastwick, St Peter
Rockland, St Peter
Rollesby, St George
Roughton, St Mary
Roydon, St Remigus
Runhall, All Saints
Rushall, St Mary
Sedgeford, St Mary
Seething, St Margaret
Shereford, St Nicholas
Shimpling, St George
Sidestrand, St Michael
South Pickenham, All Saints
Stanford, All Saints
Stockton, St Michael
Stody, St Mary
Surlingham, St Mary
Sustead, St Peter and St Paul
Swainsthorpe, St Peter
Syderstone, St Mary
Tasburgh, St Mary
Taverham, St Edmund
Thorpe Abbotts, All Saints
Thorpe next Haddiscoe, St Matthias
Threxton, All Saints
Thwaite, All Saints
Titchwell, St Mary
Topcroft, St Margaret
Tuttington, St Peter and St Paul
Wacton, All Saints
Watton, St Mary
Weeting, St Mary
Welborne, All Saints
West Dereham, St Andrew
West Lexham, St Nicholas
West Somerton, St Mary
Whitlingham, St Andrew (tower collapsed)
Wickmere, St Andrew
Witton, St Margaret
Woodton, All Saints
Worthing, St Margaret
Wramplingham, St Peter and St Paul
Yaxham, St Peter




Aldham, St Mary
Ashby, St Mary
Barsham, Holy Trinity
Beyton, All Saints
Blundeston, St Mary
Bramfield, St Andrew
Brome, St Mary
Bruisyard, St Peter
Bungay, Holy Trinity
Frostenden, All Saints
Gisleham, Holy Trinity
Gunton, St Peter
Hasketon, St Andrew
Hengrave, Church of the Reconciliation
Herringfleet, St Margaret
Higham, St Stephen
Holton, St Peter
Ilketshall, St Andrew
Ilketshall, St Margaret
Little Bradley, All Saints
Little Saxham, St Nicholas
Lound, St John the Baptist
Mettingham, All Saints
Mutford, St Andrew
Onehouse, St John the Baptist
Ramsholt, All Saints
Rickinghall Inferior, St Mary
Risby, St Giles
Rushmere, St Michael
South Elmham, All Saints
Spexhall, St Peter
Stuston, All Saints
Syleham, St Margaret
Theberton, St Peter
Thorington, St Peter
Weybread, St Andrew
Wissett, St Andrew
Wortham, St Mary

If you’d like to discover what else there is to explore in the beautiful county of Norfolk, browse my Norfolk Life category. If local wildlife is your thing, you should read my post about the Seals of Horsey Gap.