Welcome to this website, dedicated to the Round Tower Churches in Europe!
I started my first website about Round Tower Churches in 2005, after I had visited the first 20 or so, mainly in Norfolk where I had been some times on holidays, and where I had first discovered this unusual species of church buildings. The “original” site at www.roundtowerchurches.de is now deleted, because the design looked like, well, a website from 2005. So I decided it is time to build a new one, and you have just arrived at the very result. I hope you do enjoy this site as much as I do designing it.
Why a website about Round
I “stumbled” over my first Round Tower Church by chance in 1999 when boating on the Norfolk Broads and taking a walk from Loddon Staithe. I had never seen a church like this one before, and was absolutely stunned by the unusual looks; to me, it appeared a bit like a castle. It was St Margarets of Hales, still the favourite of all the 228 Round Tower Churches we have visited since. I have no architectual training whatsoever, and also no religious connotation at all. But these – mostly – medieval buildings have a special athmosphere when you enter them. I wanted to visit as many of them as possible, and as digital photography meant nearly unlimited numbers of photos could be taken, I decided to build a website about these beautiful buildings, so that other people could enjoy their beauty as well.
Why Round Towers?
This is still an ongoing discussion. For the churches in East Anglia – where the majority of these churches is located – experts from the Round Tower Churches Society can offer different explanations. For me, they look like defence towers, a theory not accepted by those experts because of different reasons: sometimes, the tower was added to the nave long after the nave was build, or the walls are not strong enough. In other areas – like Alsace/Lorraine in France or Luxembourg – the towers are historically known as defence towers. Some were able to house the whole village in case of an attack, like Heckenransbach, where a large room is located at the top of the tower. But still, no definite answer has been found yet. Making these churches even more interesting and – in a way – “mysterious”. See the Miscallenous section for more information.
Where to find Round Tower Churches?
The map to the right shows the areas in Europe with at least one Round Tower Church. You can click on the symbols to learn more about each area. Only the churches we have visited so far appear on this website. We are well aware that there are many more (see Miscallenous section), some of which we are aware of, others we probably haven’t got the slightest clue that they do exist. If you know a Round Tower Church not mentioned on this site, please let us know! (see contact page)
The areas in which to find the churches
You will find links to the different areas in which the Round Tower Churches are located in the main menu: Norfolk (divided into 6 alphabetical subareas), Suffolk (divided into 2 alphabetica subareas), Rest of England (with Essex, Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Berkshire), Germany (with Schleswig-Holstein, Niedersachsen, NRW, Saar-Pfalz and Baden-Württemberg) and Rest of Europe (with France, Sweden, Scotland, Wales and Luxembourg)
The indvidual sites for the churches
Each church has its own entry or site; you will find a slideshow with the photographs of the churches. Furthermore, I have tried to gather as much information about the churches as I could muster (e.g. opening times, church website or historical facts) about each church together with a map where to find it. I have added a report of our visits to the churches, and sometimes some architectural or historical highlights.
On some of the sites for the Norfolk churches, you will find a second photoshow with black and white photographs. They were taken by a most remarkable man: Mr George Plunkett from Norwich, who from 1931 until shortly before his death in 2006 took thousands of black and white photos of Norfolk (with the same camera!), its towns, villages and buildings – like churches. I am greatly indebted to him and his son Jonathan, who has build up a website with all these photos in digital form: I got the permission from him to use as many of the photos as I like on my website – which I did!
There are lots of really fantastic photos I have used on my website: e.g. St Benedicts in Norwich before it was destroyed in WW II (see right) as well as the other Norwich Round Tower Churches before the Air Raid; the ruins of Whitlingham with the tower still standing, and shortly after it fell and many more. These photos give an excellent insight into the Norfolk days of yore. If you want to see more of his photos (what I strongly recommend if you have the slightest interest in the history of this beautiful county), visit his website: www.georgeplunkett.co.uk