Record Details

NHER Number:6913
Type of record:Building
Name:St Margaret's Church, Paston


A 14th century and later thatched church, built on the site of an earlier church, with a 15th century south porch. The medieval Paston family spent their money on Broomholm Priory near Bacton and were buried there, so St Margaret's, their local church, was left a comparatively plain affair. When the church was built, wall paintings covered the walls inside and some of these were rediscovered in the 1920s. On the north wall is the top half of a patriarchal St Christopher, and further along, part of a 'three living and three dead' painting, with three animated noblemen and skeletons. This theme was very popular in the years following the Black Death. A less fantastic reminder of mortality can be seen in the chancel, where there are several memorials to the Pastons, one of which was brought here from Broomholm Priory when it was closed by Henry VIII. On the north side, and the reason why the window here is blocked, are two enormous memorials, one featuring a life-size figure of Dame Katherine Paston (who died in 1628) reclining beneath a black, white and pink alabaster confection of pillars, arches, figures and a crowned skull. Next to this, and by the same sculptor, is a classical style memorial to the Dame's widower, Sir Edmund Paston (who died in 1632).


  • A medieval wall painting of St Christopher in St Margaret's Church, Paston. Photograph from  © S. Knott
  • St Margaret's Church, Paston. Photograph from  © S. Knott


Grid Reference:TG 3228 3443
Map Sheet:TG33SW

Full description

April 1976. Visit.
Decorated, south porch Perpendicular; date on a south buttress 1601; traces of 19th century restoration in brickwork and iron tiebeams. Scissor braced reed roof, thatched,; reed in poor condition. Former chancel carved roof gone. Priest's door. Rood stair. Pillar piscina in ogee niche with credence shelf. Sedilia blocked by tomb. Octagonal font.
Screen contains a little 15th century work. Some old bench ends, and a Perpendicular readers desk. Communion rail made from 17th century? Staircase from a house. Piscina by south door. Blank tomb chests of Pastons, one moved from Bromholm Priory. Palimpset brass 1575. Figured monuments by Stone 1629 and 1632, inside one the original rail; they block a window. Wall paintings of St Christopher (late 14th century) 'the three dead and the three living' and others. Plate: paten of about 1450 Chalice, Norwich 1567, flagon, London 1664. Renaissance chair. 18th century floor tombs. 15th century tree trunk chest which contained once a box of 1690, pewter flagon, and old books (now on display). Royal arms 1831 of William IV. Lychgate leads not to road but to hall grounds.
E. Rose (NAU), 13 April 1976. Listed grade I (S1).

Remains of cross in northeast corner of churchyard; information from (S2). However the Ordnance Survey say this is not a cross base. E. Rose (NAU).

An anonymous notice within St Margaret's Church, Paston, refers to the base of the churchyard cross 'northeast of the church', and notes that a churchyard cross is mentioned in a deed (not earlier than the 17th century) held by the Norfolk Archaeological Society.

The alleged base, at TG 3230 3442, is constructed of cob and cement, it has a rough uneven top and could not hold either a socket stone or shaft without manual levelling.
A similar feature has never been encountered by this investigator.
Information from Ordnance Survey Records.
R.J. Rickett (NAU), 8 February 1990.

Plan (S3), press cutting (S4) and pamphlet (S5) in file.

October 2008.
Manuscripts from the 15th to 19th century discovered behind the church organ, including the Parish's first register of births, marriages and deaths and a 15th century chant.
See (S6) for further information
H. White (NLA) 19 December 2008

September 2012. Watching Brief.
The church foundations were exposed at several places along the north and south façade of the nave and chancel during groundwork’s to examine the current drainage.
The foundations of the chancel and the south porch appear to have been of a different construction than the foundations of the nave, indicating that they were built at different times. The foundations on the northern side of the nave were inserted into graveyard soil, indicating that the church was also widened at some point. Two phases of buttress construction were recorded along the nave and both phases appear to post-date the construction of the church walls. One of the southern buttresses has a date of 1601, indicating that latter works may have been carried out at this time.
No finds were recovered during the groundworks.
See report (S9) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S10).
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2013.97).
M. Langham-Lopez (HES), 1 February 2013. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 16 May 2019.

November 2012. Cobrar Survey
Illustrated report. Particular observations are the gradation of tracery in the chancel with the more complex yet contemporary tracery in the easternmost bay with simpler Y' and cusped 'Y' further west. Also the smaller window in the north side of the nave are to leave room for the wall paintings which were envisaged when the building was first planned. Windows on south side much larger. Very rare 14th century scissor-braced roof. The Paston tombs by Nicholas Stone are of national importance.See (S7)
S. Heywood (HES), 14 November 2012

Emergency repairs are needed to Paston memorial. The effigy of Lady Katherine, who is in a reclined position, is in danger of collapse. The memorial is currently protected under a wooden lean-to to stop damage from falling masonry.
See (S8) for further information.
M. Langham-Lopez (HES), 10 January 2013.

Monument Types

  • CHURCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CROSS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CHURCH (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • FONT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PISCINA (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ROOD SCREEN (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: TG 3234C,D.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 33 SW 6 [2].
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 637-638.
---Website: Knott, S.. 2005. St Margaret, Paston. 20 December 2006.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Big heritage ambitions for village church. 17 May.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. Paston's past to be revealed at church. 26 August.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2013. Repairs start to help protect church history. 9 August.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2016. How 21st century skills will bring the 15th century to life again. 19 January.
<S1>Designation: English Heritage. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1373419.
<S2>Article in Serial: Cozens-Hardy B. 1934. Norfolk Crosses. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXV Pt II pp 297-336. p 322.
<S3>Illustration: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
<S4>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2000. [Article on St Margaret's Church, Paston]. 20 March.
<S5>Leaflet: Loraine, H.. Paston. Some notes on the Church of St Margaret and the Paston family..
<S6>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2008. Church Song Heard Again, 500 Years On. 13 October.
<S7>Unpublished Document: Heywood, S. 2012. The Church of St Margaret, Paston, COBRAR.
<S8>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. Paston memorial in danger of collapse. 13 December.
<S9>Unpublished Contractor Report: Cope-Faulkner, P. 2012. Archaeological Monitoring and Recording at St Margaret's Church, Paston, Norfolk. Archaeological Project Services. 77/12.
<S10>Article in Serial: Cattermole, A. 2013. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2012. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLVI Pt IV pp 568-576. p 575.

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