Haddiscoe St Mary

What you need to know about this church

St Mary's Church Haddiscoe

Where to find this church

Church Information

St Mary’s Church is located in Haddiscoe, a Norfolk village right on the A143 Beccles to Great Yarmouth road. Its name ist pronounced “Hadsco/Hadsker”.

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Tower from north-west
Haddiscoe St Mary
North doorway
Niche above south doorway

Visiting Haddiscoe St Mary

St Mary’s church in Haddiscoe is a landmark when you drive along the A143 Great Yarmouth to Beccles road, even though it is not possible to access it from this road when you are in a car. You need to use the B1136 which runs to the north of the church, and from there it is signposted.

There is a very distinctive 15th century parapet to this tower, which has a chequer pattern in squares of black or grey flint. The tower is impressive work of the late 11 th / early 12th century. The four belfry openings are double ones with triangular heads resting on a central through stone on top of a baluster. Each one is enriched with a stone frame all round the outer edge of the opening, carved with a billet pattern. The tower is divided by stone string courses into four different stages, and each stage contains one or more round-headed stone-framed slit windows. There are fillets, flint infills, between the curved tower and the flat west walls.

An aisle was added on the north side in the 13th century, but the basic nave and chancel date back to the 11th century. There are large blocked stone circles in the chancel walls, where early single-splayed windows have been filled in. Above the aisle there are a row of round clerestory windows, just on the north side. When the north aisle was made, the former north doorway from the 11th century was moved out to the new wall. It still has a round head, carved with billet, scallop and lozenge patterns.

The south doorway is of the same date, circa 1100, but is more elaborately carved than the north doorway. It has V patterns, scallop and chevron carvings. It contains a remarkable survival of ironwork from about 1100, covering the wooden door. The wrought iron strips are worked in scroll and plaited patterns, similar to those that can still be seen on a door at Raveningham (also a Round Tower Church).

Above the door is a round-headed niche containing a seated figure, probably Christ in Majesty, with perhaps the Hand of God or a Dove above? The niche is framed with carved pillars and an arch decorated with patterns of about 1100.

The tall narrow stone-framed round-headed tower arch has a shorter round-headed arch above, used as an upper doorway to access the first floor space in the tower. The font is a lion font, with seated lions round the stem. Its bowl has angels alternating with the emblems of the Evangelists: winged man Matthew, winged lion Mark, winged bull Luke and eagle John.

The north aisle has arches cut through the depth of the wall, and above on the nave side are a few remnants of wall paintings. One is the head of St Christopher, carrying the Christ Child on his shoulders. The chancel has a double piscina dating to about 1300.

Conclusion: wonderful old and open church with plenty to see

Lion font
Nave view east
Wall painting
Wall painting