Romantic Ruins St Mary’s Islington, Norfolk

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I must pass these ruins about 2 to 3 times a week and have always thought that they were on private land, they stand out in the skyline as you drive along the road and during the winter months you can’t miss them.  Little did I know that there is a track off the dual carriage way on the A47 from Wisbech to Kings Lynn at one of the smaller roundabouts.  So one Sunday afternoon, it was cold but it had stopped raining, although it was very overcast, we went to explore and to my joy you can drive right up to the church. Getting out of the car I felt like I had gone back a little in time, the church sits next to Islington Hall, parts of the Hall dating from 1619 and with the large park that you drive around to get to the church, it feels that really it has not changed a lot through time.


This romantic partial late 13th Century ruin is the Medieval Church St Mary’s of the Parish of Tilney-cum-Islington which was a village 5 miles west-south-west from Lynn.  Little of the village remains now as it was merged with Tilney St Lawerance Parish in 1935.  There were more remains of this church compared to my previous two church remains, so there was a lot more to snap and explore. Ruin remains of churches are quite fascinating, if you look at it from the point of view that they are only half built and you see things that are normally under the surface that you would never see.


Now for the history ……St Mary’s is a redundant Anglican church, late 13th century small cruciform Early English style church. The fabric of the church is stone, you can still see some of the rendering and with some brick on the upper level of the 15th Century tower.  Only the tower and the chancel have retained their roofs.


The chancel was closed in 1972 by the building of a wall with 3 lancet windows, looks quite in keeping, it will age and mellow in time. Standing on tiptoe and holding up the camera and pointing throug the grill (there is a key holder, but it was too cold to go looking) after several snaps, I got the following photo.


Inside I found 2 monuments, there is one to Edward Bragge who died in 1846 and one in marble dated 1723 to the sons and daughters of Anthony Dixon.  The Dixon and Bragg families were Lords of the Manor, the monuments were moved to the chancel from other parts of the church to keep them protected.

The tower is a buttressed and battlemented tower, the roof is still intact and at one time the two bells were still there, but I think they have been moved now.


The church was still in use in 1883 and it was a neat stone edifice, so at some point after that date and after years of disuse & neglect the roofs of the nave and transept collapsed.



The church was made redundant in 1973 and is now looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust.



There is quite a large churchyard with lots of snowdrops, must be their year, as all the churchyards have been full of them.  If you could read the headstones there are some to the memory of Hoope, Say and Edwards.  There are some larger ones that could have a Bragg or Dixon in them……I am sure someone could tell me. I had a very interesting and enjoyable visit, I think at sometime it was a happy church because I felt very at ease.  I am now looking forward to visiting in summer with blue skies and trees in leaf…..

Last but not least is this little fellow I found on one of the outside walls, has a look of Richard the 3rd to me…not sure who he is…….


6 Replies to “Romantic Ruins St Mary’s Islington, Norfolk”

  1. We are on holiday nearby and visited the church this morning. Thank you for all your information, what an interesting place it is!

    1. Hello Emily, you had the best of the weather this morning, windy but dry 🙂 So glad that you enjoyed your visit and that you found the information of use, hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday 🙂

  2. We have also passed this church on the A47 and decided to stop and take a look on our return journey to Leicester. Answering our curiosity posed more questions so Thank you for all the above information. There was also a profusion of snowdrops in flower today and the weather was bright and cool. Next time we visit we will take a closer look inside and explore the surrounding area.

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