Norfolk can seem very wild and remote, but
Roughton will be more familiar to outsiders than
most because it is on the main road between
Norwich and Cromer. Still, the setting is lovely, the
rolling hills covered in woods and a sense of the
sea a couple of miles off. And best of all, St Mary
has one of the most ancient of East Anglia's round
towers, its Saxon origins revealed by the circular
double-splayed windows about ten feet up, and the
rugged triangular-headed double bell arches.
Pevsner tells us that the herringbone pattern of the
carstone at the base of the tower is generally
regarded as an early Norman technique rather
than a Saxon one; but he feels Roughton may be
an exception to this. Whatever, it all feels
splendidly old.

The interior is pretty much entirely Victorian, with garish tiled
floors and pitch pine benches. It is not without interest - the
benches are numbered, and the churchwarden's seat is marked in
clear Victorian lettering. The chancel falls between two stools, I
think; it attempts to be grand, but doesn't quite make it, losing in
the process the simplicity of, say, neighbouring Metton. The view
to the west is the best thing about the inside; the modern screen
and organ case are cool, clean and successful. Are they from the
1980s? They post-date the early editions of Pevsner, because he
found a doorway above the arch, and this is now obscured. The
tower arch is curious and beautiful, echoed by the tiny west
window and completing the perspective.
The body of the church is surprisingly big, and gives St Mary a
feeling that it is hunching its shoulders. It is typically East Anglian in
a different way, a late 14th/early 15th century rebuilding with aisles
and clerestory, all over-whelmingly restored by the Victorians. The
whole piece is harmonious and pleasant

The font is one of those you
often find in this part of
Norfolk, apparently EE
becoming Dec but probably
later than that, and, as
Mortlock observes,
probably part of an off-the-
shelf collection rather than
anything produced locally.

This page last modified on Saturday, October 18, 2008