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St Margaret, Stoven, Suffolk

(52°22′39″N, 1°35′43″E)
TM 448 816
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Suffolk
now Suffolk
  • Ron Baxter

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Stoven is in E Suffolk, 5 miles S of Beccles and 5 miles from the coast. The village consists of the church, a few houses and a public house on a low hill in a landscape that is otherwise is flat and arable. A moated site 300 yards N of the church may indicate a hall. St Margaret's was entirely rebuilt in a neo-Norman style between 1849 and 1858, but the 12thc. S doorway was reused, and provided sources for much of the Victorian ornament. As it stands, the church consists of a nave and chancel, both mortar rendered, and a flint W tower. Where the mortar is flaking on the N side the body of the church is seen to be of flint and bricks. In 1808, before the rebuilding, the church was described by Davy who reported that it had a nave and chancel under a thatched roof and a small square steeple of flint. An 1823 description records that there were no buttresses on the side walls, and that there were three small pieces of stone with grotesque carvings let into the wall above the N door. These carvings are now lost.

The S doorway is 12thc. but heavily restored; the N doorway is entirely 19thc., but has been photographed and described for comparative purposes. Three trimmed 12thc. chevron voussoirs are set into the S plinth of the chancel arch, and are also recorded here.


In 1086 Hugh de Montfort held 50 acres here in demesne, along with half an acre of meadow and 100 herrings. Another parcel of 14 acres was held by two free men from Roger Bigod.

Hundred River Benefice, i.e. Willingham and Sotterley, Shadingfield, Ellough and Weston, Westhall, Brampton and Stoven.


Exterior Features


Interior Features

Interior Decoration


Pevsner describes the church as 'a depressing neo-Norman job' and an 'ignorant progeny', but Simon Knott's account of events after 1987, when a £200,000 estimate of the cost of essential repairs was presented, demonstrates that matters could easily have been even worse than they are (www.suffolkchurches.co.uk/stoven.htm). It is interesting to find that the 19thc. N doorway has exactly the same dimensions as the 12thc. S doorway.

J. M. Blatchly (ed), A Journal of Excursions through the County of Suffolk 1823-44 by David Elisha Davy, Suffolk Rec. Soc. 24 (1982)
H. M. Cautley, Suffolk Churches and their Treasures. London 1937.
D. P. Mortlock, The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches: 3 East Suffolk. Cambridge 1992.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Suffolk. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. E. Radcliffe 1975, 442.