Remains of St Andrew's Church


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

King's Lynn and West Norfolk (District Authority)
East Walton
National Grid Reference:
TF 74287 16196

Reasons for Designation

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little fabric of the first church being still easily visible. Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of 1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are identified to be nationally important.

Churches in the Saxon period and after the Conquest were often founded by wealthy laymen who retained a proprietorial interest, and where there were two or more manors in a parish, this sometimes led to the building of two churches, often situated close together. St Andrew's is a good example of such a church, probably abandoned because the parishioners had not the means to maintain a building which was surplus to their requirements. The architectural details visible in the standing ruins of the building provide evidence of successive alterations, probably made in response to changes in devotional practice and in the needs of the parish, and the buried remains will retain further archaeological information concerning the construction and history of the building during the medieval period and after.

Standing crosses are free standing upright structures, usually of stone, most of which were erected during the medieval period (mid-10th to mid-16th centuries AD). In churchyards they served as stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm Sunday. Elsewhere they were used within settlements as places for preaching, public proclamations and penance, as well as defining rights of sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between parishes, property or settlements. Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have numbered in excess of 12,000. Their survival since the Reformation has, however, been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and religious sentiment. Less than 2,000 medieval standing crosses, with or without cross heads, are now thought to exist. They contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns.

The socket stone in the west door opening of St Andrew's Church formed the base of a standing cross which was probably raised on a plinth or flight of steps and is a good example of its type. Although moved from its original location, it can be considered to relate to one or both churches and to the settlement with which they were associated, and is therefore of particular interest.


The monument includes the standing ruins and buried remains of St Andrew's Church, situated approximately 80m north of the parish church of St Mary. The standing ruins represent the greater part of the nave of the church, with the buried remains of a demolished aisle to the south of it and of the chancel to the east. Also included is the socket stone of a medieval standing cross which has been placed in the west doorway of the nave. Both the socket stone and remains of St Andrew's Church are Listed Grade II.

St Andrew's Church is considered to date originally from the early 12th century and lay within a manor which, from about 1196 until the Dissolution of the Monasteries was held by West Dereham Abbey. It was known subsequently as Abbots manor, the site of the manor house being on or close to that now occupied by Abbey Farm, about 15m to the north. According to a late 16th century survey, the neighbouring St Mary's Church lay on the far side of the manorial boundary, adjacent to the site of another manor held originally by West Acre priory. From at least the 13th century the two churches went together as a single rectory whose revenue went to West Acre priory. St Andrew's presumably had the status of a parochial chapel. A survey of 1593 refers to `the land that was formerly the churchyard of St Andrew's', it is likely that it went out of use as a church around the time of the Reformation, although part remained intact and is described in a lease of 1803 as being in use as a millhouse. By 1845 it was a ruin.

The west wall and gable and all but the eastern ends of the north and south walls of the nave still stand to almost full height, and the south and west walls display evidence of successive alterations as well as of the original method of construction. They are built chiefly of coursed flint, with courses of ferruginous conglomerate at the base and in the lower parts of the walls and quoins of the same conglomerate, roughly shaped, at the north western angle. Remains of mortar rendering survive on both the interior and exterior. In the north wall, towards the western end, are the remains of a door opening, with the lower parts of limestone jambs surviving on the interior eastern and exterior western sides. The west wall contains another doorway with a round headed arch, on the inner face of which is a single surviving limestone voussoir, and in the angle of the gable above this doorway is the lower part of a window opening with sill and hollow chamfered jambs of limestone. Between the two, but slightly off centre, is a rectangular opening with surround of post-medieval brick which was presumably inserted when the building was converted for secular use.

The south wall contains the remains of an arcade of at least three bays dated to the late 13th century and inserted into the original fabric when the aisle was added. The pointed arches of the western and central bays and the western end of the arch of the eastern bay, together with the piers that supported them are partly visible within later blocking, the arches being constructed of clunch and the piers of limestone. The pier between the western and middle arches is exposed in the exterior face of the wall and is octagonal with a moulded capital. The capital of the pier to the east is similarly exposed, and the inner face of the corresponding pier, which is of compound type with attached colonettes, is partly visible within the wall. The south aisle was evidently demolished and the arcade blocked before the end of the medieval period, windows, probably moved from the south wall of the aisle, were inserted in the blocking, and an external buttress added to the west of the window within the middle arch. Much of the limestone surround and the internal splay of this central window remain intact, with enough of the internal detail on the west side to show that the tracery was of simple form, with two lancets and a circular or quatrefoil light in the spandrel above the central mullion. The remains of the arch of the window to the east of this is also visible in the end of the standing wall, beneath the western end of the arch of the arcade. The window opening within the blocking of the western arch shows evidence of later conversion to a doorway, the surviving western jamb of which is roughly constructed of reused chamfered limestone blocks, some discoloured by burning. The stub of the western wall of the demolished aisle projects from the western end of the south wall, and the site of the aisle itself is marked by a slightly raised platform about 3.3m wide. Rectangular joist holes in the north and south walls and at a higher level in the west wall are evidence for inserted floors relating to the later use of the building.

The overall width of the nave is approximately 7m, and the original length of the nave, based on the width of the arches of the aisle arcade, is estimated to have been 11.6m. The standing parts of the north and south walls are around 9m in length and, on the south side, a further 2.5m of footings are exposed to the east of this. The broken end of the south wall is partly faced with reused limestone blocks and some brick.

Nothing is visible of the chancel of the church, which was probably demolished when or before the church was converted for secular use, but buried remains will survive below the ground surface and are included in the scheduling. It is likely to have been up to half as long as the nave, giving an overall length of approximately 18m.

The socket stone which stands in the door opening at the western end of the nave is of limestone and is approximately 0.4m in height. It is rectangular at the base, which measures 0.66m by 0.61m, rising through stop angles to an octagonal upper surface, around the edges of which there are traces of weathered moulding. In the centre of the upper surface is the socket, approximately 0.35m square, into which the stone shaft of the cross would have been mortised. The cross probably stood originally within St Andrew's churchyard.

A rustic trellis to the east of the standing ruins is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Langdon, T, East Walton otherwise called Emhowse in East Walton, (1593)
Batcock, N, 'East Anglian Archaeol' in The Ruined and Disused Churches of Norfolk, , Vol. 51, (1991), M. 7:A7


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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