All Saints, Old Buckenham, Norfolk

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Feature Sets (2)


All Saints comprises a chancel, nave, N aisle and polygonal W tower. The tower and chancel date from the 14thc and were restored in the mid-19thc. Both nave and chancel are thatched. All that can be easily detected of the early fabric of the church is the reset N doorway-which bears the building's only Romanesque sculpture-and the W wall of the nave. 


Buckenham, chief manor of the Hundred of Shropham, belonged to the king. Before the Norman Conquest, it was held by Earl Ralph. At one time a significant settlement fortified by earthworks of early but uncertain date, Old Buckenham was presumably already in decline when William Albini II gave the site and materials of its Norman castle to the community of Augustinian canons he had founded there in 1146, for the construction of their priory. William had other castles nearby, notably at New Buckenham, the town which he himself planted in the 1140s-50s.


Exterior Features


N aisle, nave

Reset, round-headed, of two orders. Of creamy limestone, shot with streaks of brown.

First order

No bases, plain jambs, hollow-chamfered with a quirk or groove on the upright. The arch is plain.

Second order

Damaged bulbous bases with a torus support nook shafts. Cushion capitals with necking, and with an incised line outlining each shield. The arch has an angle roll, followed on the face by a row of pierced balls, a row of cable moulding, and then a narrow fillet.


The Romanesque doorway in the N wall stands in a building which has a 14thc N nave arcade and thus must have been dismantled and reassembled in the new aisle wall during the Gothic refurbishment of the church. The N side of the Gothic church was the most elaborately decorated and was presumably especially important. The decision to reuse the old Romanesque door suggests that it was highly prized for its design or antiquity. At the time of the visit, the doorway had a coat of grey limewash.


  • H. J. Dukinfield Astley, Memorials of Old Norfolk, London, 1908, 198.

  • D. Dymond, The Norfolk Landscape, Bury St Edmunds, 1990, 147-8.

  • N. Pevsner and B. Wilson, The Buildings of England: Norfolk: North-West and South, Harmondsworth, 1962, revised 1999, 2:577-8.

  • Victoria History of the Counties of England: Norfolk, London, 1906, 2:376.

  • T. Williamson, The Origins of Norfolk, Manchester, 1993, 180.


Site Location
Old Buckenham
National Grid Reference
TM 067 914 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Norfolk
now: Norfolk
medieval: North Elmham (c.950-1071), Thetford (1071-94), Norwich (from 1094)
now: Norwich
medieval: All Saints
now: All Saints
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Jill A Franklin 
Visit Date
Aug 1984