St Mary the Virgin, Burgh St Peter, Norfolk

Church of St Mary the Ziggurat, in roight old Norfolk?

Pootling along a roight old country lane, whilst looking into the puzzling round towers around the world. The South and North folk have nearly 200 unique and mysterious round tower Churches, dotted but somehow hidden, amongst flat ancient East Anglia.

Round towers mystery and East Anglia flint churches

The tiny wooden road sign said Church but it could only be one of those right old boring (not tubular) square towered and flinty churches.

Old square tower flint and mortar churches in East Anglia

The Henry 8th loot map had definitely not shown circular loot boxes in this peaceful part of the Broads countryside.

A little distracted by and admiring the unusual view over the River Waveney Valley, this meant the road was relatively very high, the fields and water meadows of England easily 20 meters below.

River Waveney Valley

Countryside rules drove up to – slow yew down – the brow of a Norfolk hill, then I was stopped in my car tracks – hold you hard! – by sheer bewilderment at a winters day mirage.

St Mary's Church, Burgh St Peter, Norfolk

The sign had only said “Church” not “Church!” or “Church?”. What on Earth was this doing here? What was it? What was most puzzling but only to me – why had I never seen or heard of this stacked structure before? Where was that Mediaval East Anglian Church? That’ll learn me.

The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Burgh St Peter, Norfolk

I had only carried along this lane because it had been over 3 miles since the last ancient religious places of Christian worship. This is the County of Anglo-Saxon and Norman buildings, some of them attached to previously there solid towers. Some older dated ones are suggested as the only permanently structures built by the East Angles, those missing in the action of historic documentation.

round tower churches and Ziggurat tower Norfolk

Ziggurat Tower on old Norfolk flint Church?

How and why is there Norfolk’s own Tower of Babel ziggurat monument reaching up to broad Norfolk’s big sky?

St Mary’s Church in Burgh St Peter with it’s brazenly untraditional brick constructed ziggurat tower. What would the locals rivals in Wheatacre say? Imagine what the Toft Monks will taunt us with! The workers on the Broads cargo boats as they slowly went past on the river Waveney. They could be accused of many things but not Popish Practices because who knows what are the explanation for this pagoda?

Ziggurat towers

Having a yarn with a local Old Boy and he mentioned this was the Church and area where the infamous Boycott family lived. Charles Boycott being the second most famous person with that surname. First, of course and always will be, is Sir Geoffrey Boycott. Strangely, both are associated with stonewalling and fighting tooth and nail for your cause.

St Mary, Burgh St Peter, Norfolk

Simon Knott’s website and writings are wonderfully entertaining while you learn history. He is quoted below on the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Burgh St Peter.

The 18th century was a time of low congregations, and the family at the Big House could pretty much run the church their own way, if they had a mind to.

The Boycotts of Burgh did. As patrons, they presented their own sons to the living for nearly two hundred years – that is to say, the Boycotts not only owned the place, they ministered to it as well. They made themselves responsible for the repair of the building, which was in rather bad shape by the late 18th century. As was common for the local gentry, they saw the parish church as their mausoleum, but rather than fill the building with elaborate tombs, they built an extraordinary structure onto the base of the ruined tower, thus killing two birds with one stone.

The Boycott mausoleum was the work of Samuel Boycott, who in 1793 obtained a faculty to repair and build up the steeple which has long been in a ruinous condition. Can’t have been much arguing with that in the Bishop’s office, but you wonder if he submitted plans along with it. Probably, there never was a tower. The base is very late medieval, probably early 16th century, and it is likely the tower was never completed before the Reformation intervened.

And so, Boycott’s folly went up. The little church guide says that it is supposedly based on a church which Samuel’s son saw on the Grand Tour in Italy, but observes that it has more in common with the ziggerat temples of Iraq.
St Mary, Burgh St Peter | Norfolk Churches

St Mary the Virgin, Burgh St Peter, Norfolk

The Parish Church was locked, so I could not view any of the stain glass or carvings inside. Perhaps there might be some Boycott symbolism or iconography which may hint at inspiration for their staggering place of worship.