Record Details

NHER Number:10523
Type of record:Building
Name:St Margaret's Church, Hales


One of the most perfect and important Norman churches in the country, due to the lack of significant alterations since it was built in the 12th century. The church has a round tower, with circular splayed windows which retain the impression of basketwork from their construction. The apsidal chancel is decorated with blind arcading, and the elaborately decorated nave doorways are among the best examples of 12th century doorways in the county. The church also contains 14th century wall paintings of St Christopher and St James, and a fine octagonal 15th century font with carvings of angels, Tudor roses and lions. Late prehistoric and medieval pottery have been found in the churchyard.


  • The Norman church of St Margaret, Hales  © Norfolk County Council
  • The Norman north doorway of St Margaret's Church, Hales  © Norfolk County Council


Grid Reference:TM 3834 9610
Map Sheet:TM39NE

Full description

Finds from yard.
Church (redundant) has round Saxo Norman tower perhaps predating nave.
Both contain conglomerate and possible Roman brick.
Nave and apsidal chancel with elaborate scheme of Norman decoration, possibly on older core.
Windows and belfry about 1300, rood stair inserted in window ?15th century.
North porch gone.
Several wall paintings, good 15th century font, unusual ?19th century painting on Jacobean font cover.
Bell at KLM.

1982 to 1983. From yard.
Prehistoric and medieval pottery.
See (S1) and (S2) in file.
E. Rose (NAU) 27 July 1987.

(S3) and (S4) describe the architecture of the church, which has elaborate Romanesque details. The apsidal chancel is decorated with blind arcading. The nave doorways are considered to be among the best examples of Norman doorways in Norfolk. Both (S3) and (S4) interpret the tower as being contemporary or slightly later than the nave, (S3) concluding that the tower may have been added to an existing building. The tower has circular splayed windows, which still bear the imprint of basketwork left when the windows were constructed. The church has a fragmentary 14th century wall painting of St Christopher, and another of St James. (S4) states that St Margaret's is one of the most important 12th century churches in the country.
See (S3) and (S4) for more details.
S. Spooner (NLA) 25 January 2006.

The circular windows and wallpaintings mentioned in the preceding paragraph are described in (S1). (S5) returns to the theory that the tower is Saxon and the remainder of the church Norman.

2006. Inspection of the interior of the tower confirms the present belfry is a 14th century addition; the earlier belfry has internal Norman mouldings and Caen stone detailing; however there remains the possibility that the base is Saxon. See (S6) in file.
E. Rose (NLA), 4 February 2006.

The church is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust (2006).

This is one of the sixty five Norfolk churches selected for (S7).
D. Gurney (NLA), 17 February 2006.

Monument Types

  • SITE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • CHURCH (Late Saxon to 19th Century - 851 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ROUND TOWERED CHURCH (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SITE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • SITE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SITE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • POT (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • BRICK (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • TILE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • DOOR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PISCINA (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL PAINTING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL PAINTING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL PAINTING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TM3896 A-F,G,H,J,K.
---Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1169239.
---Monograph: Davison, A.. 1990. The Evolution of Settlement in Three Parishes in South-East Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. Vol 49.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TM 39 NE 19.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Unpublished Document: Halfacre, E.. 1999. Norwich Diocesan Advisory Committee Report on a Visit to a Church; Hales St Margaret. March.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2001. [Photographs of St Margaret's Church, Hales]. 18 April.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1999. Photograph of St Margaret's Church. 7 September.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Twelve churches are picture perfect. 3 April.
---Leaflet: The Churches Conservation Trust. 2004. St Margaret's Church, hales, Norfolk.. The Churches Conservation Trust.
---Unpublished Document: Randall, G.. 2010. WEA Norwich Branch practical church exploration course report for St Margaret's Church, Hales..
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. A towering piece of Norman church architecture. 20 October.
---Photograph: Photograph of St. Margaret's Church, Hales. Colour.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Roman. Hales.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Hales [2].
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S1>Unpublished Document: Rose, E.. 1987. Building Report.. Building Report.
<S2>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1987. Wall paintings found. 10 July.
<S3>Publication: Heywood, S. 2004. St Margaret's Church, Hales, Norfolk..
<S4>Monograph: Batcock, N. 1991. The Ruined and Disused Churches of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 51. Microfiche 5:G12. No 16; p 50.
<S5>Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, W. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 375-376; Pl 17.
<S6>Unpublished Document: Rose, E.. 2006. Building Report.. Building Report.
<S7>Publication: Jenkins, S. 2000. England's Thousand Best Churches.

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