St Andrew’s Church in Wissett Norfolk England with round tower

Only a Sassenach could doubt this fine example of Norman craftsmanship?

How can there have been the slightest bit of doubt with the dating and original builders of St Andrew’s Church in Wissett Suffolk, which is a “fine example of Norman craftmanship”? There were previous suggestions it was a round tower Church built by the puzzling Anglo-Saxons culture, those Sassanochs as Saint Andrew’s Scottish patrons might have called them.

St Andrews Church Wissett Suffolk

The tower is one of a number of round towers to be found in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. It has been described as a fine example of Norman craftmanship being constructed in the mid 12th century. The section from the midpoint of the belfry windows upward was added in the late 14th or 15th century.

Earlier descriptions of the tower had put forward the idea that parts of the tower were Saxon, but the 2010 survey disputes this. In the Doomsday Book, the presence of a church in the village of Wissett is mentioned, but the assumption is that it does not refer to the present building.
The Tower – St Andrew’s Church, Wissett (booklet)

Those earlier round structures are the only permanent buildings said to be of Saxon origin, those Sassenach rulers of England for centuries. The only linked architectural evidence, nothing else to muddy Medieval waters of history.

It is often impossible to reliably distinguish between pre- and post-Conquest 11th century work in buildings where most parts are later additions or alterations. The round-tower church and tower-nave church are distinctive Anglo-Saxon types.
Anglo-Saxon architecture | Wikipedia

St Andrew’s Church in Wissett Norfolk England with round tower

Building History: If we set aside the theory that the round tower is of pre-conquest, ‘Saxon’ date, the post-conquest ‘Norman’, work is now the earliest surviving. The record in the Doomsday book tells us that in 1086 in Wissett there was a church with 12 monks and under it one chapel.

At the East end of the nave can be seen the vestiges of the mediavel arrangements… The South side is straightforward… The North side, in contrast, is rather mysterious and a good field for speculation.
The Church Building – St Andrew’s Church, Wissett (booklet)

The fine St Andrew’s Church in Wissett has not been carefully chosen, it was the only one of the recently visited ancient flint and mortar Churches, which was open and had a fine booklet, 48 pages of their detailed history, colour prints and for only £2.50!

St Andrew’s Church Wissett Suffolk

It should be obvious what construction styles and the dates from for William and his 1066 Conqueror’s. There should be zero academic uncertainty. Only a Saxonach could insist it is not Norman?

You can not judge an ancient East Anglian Church by it’s flint cover

This is only from what I have observed so far. I would suggest some of these, or most of the oldest ones were originally stand-alone squat round towers. Then they were added to with buildings or the tower tops and bell towers added, sometimes in stages over centuries.

Anglo-Saxon or Norman architecture and round tower churches constructed in stages

Anglo-Saxon architecture was a period in the history of architecture in England, and parts of Wales, from the mid-5th century until the Norman Conquest of 1066. Anglo-Saxon secular buildings in Britain were generally simple, constructed mainly using timber with thatch for roofing. No universally accepted example survives above ground.

There are, however, many remains of Anglo-Saxon church architecture. At least fifty churches are of Anglo-Saxon origin with major Anglo-Saxon architectural features, with many more claiming to be, although in some cases the Anglo-Saxon part is small and much-altered.

It is often impossible to reliably distinguish between pre- and post-Conquest 11th century work in buildings where most parts are later additions or alterations. The round-tower church and tower-nave church are distinctive Anglo-Saxon types.
Anglo-Saxon architecture | Wikipedia

Who, what and exactly when were there early Anglo-Saxons, the East Angles, Saxons?

Sassenach Saxon or Norman Church dating of Saint Andrew’s Church in Suffolk

I have absolutely no idea if Wissett’s fine church is one of the last and youngest Anglo-Saxon round towers built ,or, one of the oldest Norman towered buildings. It is just rather surprising there was not zero doubt in the previous millennia.

I do not have a clue about square towers as not visited many of them, yet.

Who wood have believed it was of those East Angles?

St Andrew’s Church Wissett Suffolk

On ascending the spiral staircase, the visitor will find himself or herself in the Tower room. This space is remarkable chiefly for the age of the wood within, it has been analysed by dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating, which has suggested that the timbers that formed the ceiling of the tower room were felled between 1145 and 1205 AD. This is contemporary with the tower itself.

On the next level the second floor will be found, which was the old ringing chamber. This is considerably smaller than the tower room below and is lit by the circular windows that can be seen from ground level. Three of these have been blocked-up, leaving only one on the north side, which is clearly visible from ground level.

The topmost part with its belfry windows, gargoyles and battlements is dated much later than the lower parts of the tower. In 1439 John Alderych left two marks (134p) in his will – to reparation of tower and other reassances.
The Tower – St Andrew’s Church, Wissett (booklet)

The round tower, typical of South Norfolk and North Suffolk, has some original small Norman round-headed windows. The ground floor West window and the belfry windows are later as are the battlements.

The small circular windows, two still blocked but one recently reopened, are now generally thought to be a local style, compatible with post-conquest date, and not indicative of the Saxon period.
The Exterior – St Andrew’s Church, Wissett (booklet)

Are you dating a round or a square tower?

A summary of the standard dating methods for these churches seems to be:

# If a square tower then only Norman
# Saxon is only round towers but Norman Churches also built with these attached.
# Norman structures can be on or totally replacing the previous efforts of proper old North folk and Suffolk.

The mysterious builders of the what look to be the older round towers are suggested as only using flint and lime mortar because there is not much big rock on the East Anglian Heights but a lot of sand, chalk and flint. Even the Roman Empire fort at Burgh Castle in Norfolk was not built using imported large slabs of hard stone/rock.

It is suggested that the Normans shipped in building materials from overseas, from that Europe no less. Stone mason’s work is therefore linked to the fine examples of Norman craftsmanship.

As above, so below

Most of the older structures are unlikely to look much like they originally did, either externally or internally. Peer reviewed dating suggests some of these places of worship are over 1000 years old. They have been repaired with lime mortar, Roman bricks, new flint facings and white plaster.

Strangely to my modern mind, the earliest external building walls seemed to have been mostly covered in white plaster. Not sure if that includes the tubular towers. I have no issue with this as it fits into mythological and historicial models based on Immanuel Velikovsky, Saturn Myth, Thunderbolts, Alfred de Grazia, Anthony Peratt’s plasma instabilities and petroglyphs etc.

As above, so below. The Egyptian pyramids, the geoglyphs England’s white horses, the what are described as Norfolk hill forts, the East Anglian Roman Saxon Shore sea forts, the white cave paintings and petroglyphs, Malta and Gozo’s megalithic ‘temples’, Stonehenge and its earthworks including the Curses etc.