Topcroft St Margaret
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St Margarets church is located in Topcroft, a Norfolk village about 10 miles south of the City of Norwich.
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Visiting Topcroft St Margaret
The church of St Margaret in Topcroft belongs to the wonderful Hempnall Group of Parishes. Wonderful because it has been long the practice that all these churches are always open to visitors. And furthermore – important for the Round Tower Churches enthusiast – six of the eight churches have a round tower: Bedingham St Andrew, Fritton St Catherine, Hardwick St Margaret, Morningthorpe St John the Baptist, Topcroft St Margaret and Woodton All Saints, all of which can be found on this website. Only Hempnall St Margaret and Shelton St Mary have square towers. So you can spend a leisurely day in this group of parishes, visiting six Round Tower Churches, and still only have to drive about 20 miles.
Three parts of this tower are octagonal, but the lowest part is round, with much red brick repair to its flint work. This part and the next two stages are 13th century, with brick quoins, and with a ring of eight pointed lancet windows with brick frames, possibly marking the early belfry openings? However only one west-facing lancet is shown in 19th century pictures of the tower. In the 15th century a further octagonal stage was added with wide belfry openings, but apparently no tracery, alternating with dummy flushwork window patterns, and a battlemented parapet. The south aisle was added in the 14th century, and the red brick chancel was built in 1712. The tower was added on to the west nave wall, not built up over it. There are three little grotesque heads under the gable end at the south-east corner of the aisle.
The pointed tower arch is off-set a bit to the north, possibly to accommodate a former stair turret to the south. There is a deep cupboard there, which perhaps was once access for these stairs. Both the chancel arch and the arches of the south arcade were painted with texts around their arches in 1876. Above the chancel arch is a painted cross in glory. The font, in front of the acutely pointed tower arch, is a 15th century lion font, with four seated lions around the stem. The bowl has four angels holding shields alternating with four seated lions, with smiles on their faces and flourishing their tails. By the 19th century pulpit are the remains of steps within the wall, which led to the Rood loft, which with the Rood screen has long gone. The chancel has more of the 19th century painting, covering its east wall and the reveals of the east window.