Top twelve churches in north norfolk

With over 650 churches, Norfolk has the greatest concentration of churches in the world. The north Norfolk landscape is dotted with medieval church spires. Built in the 11th century, East Anglia has the highest number of round tower churches, which were built for cultural reasons at a time when Norfolk had strong trading links with the Baltic and North Sea communities.

Across north Norfolk there are differences in the stone used to build the round towers; brownfield flint in Fakenham, light grey in Holt, and in Wells-next-the-Sea, Sheringham and Cromer, they are made from rounded beach flints. You will find fine examples of 14th century wool churches built from the profits of the medieval boom in wool trade, particularly in Worstead, which gave its name to the cloth.


Each church a fascinating history and story to tell. Here are our top 12 churches in north Norfolk.

1. St Marys in Roughton has one of the most ancient of East Anglia's round towers. The tower is believed to be of Saxon origin and much of the main body of the building is Victorian. Its Saxon origins are revealed by the circular double-splayed windows and the triangular-headed double bell arches.
St Marys Roughton
2. St. Helens, ‘Cathedral of the Broads’ in Ranworth dates back to the 14th and 15th century and its tower dominates the skyline. Climb the 89 steps and 2 ladders inside the church tower and you will be rewarded to amazing views. On a clear day, you can see five Norfolk Broads.
St Helens Ranworth
3. All Saints in Burnham Thorpe. The village is the birthplace of Horatio Nelson and his father, Edmund Nelson, was Rector of All Saints. Horatio was born in 1758 in a house called the Shooting Box, and after going away to study and spend time in the Navy, Horatio returned for five years to Burnham Thorpe with his new wife. Nelson was given his first role as Captain after this. The church is full of fascinating memorabilia of the Nelson family including a wooden lectern and cross from HMS Victory.
All Saints Church Burnham Thorpe
4. St Nicholas in Blakeney. The church was built between the 13th & 15th century and is the only church in the local area to possess a tower at each end of its building. The 100ft west tower is one of the highest in Norfolk & is open every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday. Take the 137 steps & enjoy the incredible views.
St Nicholas Blakeney
5. St Mary’s in Happisburgh with its 110ft tower, overlooks the sea and its graveyard has memorials to the many sailors who lost their lives in the treacherous waters, including the 119 sailors of HMS Invincible, who in were on their way to join Nelson in Copenhagen in 1801. The church with its 133 steps is also worth a climb, and from the top you can see 30 churches, two lighthouses, seven water towers and even the Cathedral spire in Norwich over 16 miles away.
St Marys Happisburgh
6. St Mary Magdalene in Sandringham is situated within the gardens at Sandringham. The church dates back to the 16th century and is considered to be one of the finest carrstone buildings. St Mary's was built as Sandringham parish church, but it is regularly used as a place of worship by the Royal Family and inside are many memorials to various members of the Royal family.
St Mary Magdalene Sandringham
7. St Margaret Church, Cley next the Sea. The parish church of St. Margaret of Antioch, dates back to the 13th century. This vast church has interesting features including a seven sacrament font, bench ends depicting people and mythical creatures, brasses and old stained glass.
St Margarets Cley Next The Sea
8. St Nicholas in Salthouse is thought to have been built in around 1250. It stands between the village and high ridge and you get an amazing view of the church from Salthouse Heath. Inside, the nave and chancel were rebuilt in the 15th century at a time of great prosperity. The church contains a painted rood screen and a fine font with lions.
St Nicholas Salthouse
9. St Michael the Archangel Church, Booton, is a Victorian Gothic church, created in 1876 by eccentric clergyman Reverend Whitwell Elwin - a descendant of Pocahontas of Hiawatha fame. A friend of Charles Darwin, Elwin not only raised the funds for the building, he also designed it without an architect but rather took inspiration from other churches, leaving behind a masterpiece.
St Michael the Archangel  Booton
10. St Marys church Worstead. Many of the working population was wiped out by the ‘Black Death in 1349, forcing a change from farming to wool production. This brought the weaving of a fine quality cloth, earning the name ‘Worsted’. It was 30 years after the Black Death, that the wool trade sufficiently recovered to allow for weavers to start the building of the present, perpendicular St. Mary the Virgin church in the 1370s.
St Marys Worstead
11. St Peter & Paul, Salle, north of Reepham. The 15th century church of St Peter & St Paul in Salle has been called the finest historic church in Norfolk, and one of the best in Britain. Financed by wealthy wool merchants, the church was built with expensive Barnack stone, rather than cheaper local flint, resulting in a superb example of Perpendicular architecture. The tower reaches 126 feet, and can be seen for miles. The Boleyn family were one of the patrons and unsubstantiated legend says that Anne Boleyn was buried in the churchyard.
St Peter and Paul Salle
12. St Peter & Paul in Cromer dates from the 14th century & is in the centre of the town. At 160 ft, the bell tower is the highest in the county. The church was rebuilt in the late 19th century by architect, Arthur Blomfield, after falling into disrepair. The vast stained glass windows commemorate members of the lifeboat crew, namely Henry Blogg who carried out a dangerous rescue on 13th December 1936.
St Peter & Paul Cromer