St Margaretís Church is a half mile from the village of Hales with its 66 acres of common land. It is thought that the village, once a number of scattered houses around the common, was moved to its present location due to the Black Death hitting the old village.
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Before the decimation of the village, Hales Hall was the principal dwelling and was sited on the edge of the green. Later it was mostly demolished. The farm and farmhouse survived.
The 12th century Norman church has a thatched roof and is mostly unaltered from its first building. It has a round western tower, a nave, and a chancel.
The tower, with its bell openings, has a parapet, added later. The north and south doorways are finely carved with various ornamentation. The exterior walls are a mix of limestone, brick, ironstone, flint, lime mortar, Roman or Saxon tiles, and render.
Church walls are plastered. In the nave there are wall paintings. One, depicting St James the Great, dates from the 14th century while another of St Christopher and the holy child is 15th century. Above the east window in the apse is a 14th century wall painting of a scroll.
Stairs lead from the nave to the gallery, which was added in the late 1700s. A Norman arch leads to the tower but is partially bricked up. Two tower windows blocked on the exterior can be seen from the church interior.
The stone font is late 1400s. It has angels and Tudor roses carved on its panels. The crown shaped cover is from the 1600s. The pulpit is late 1700s. A medieval rood screen has disappeared except for its dado; the panels are green and red.
The chancel altar is of blue lias stone with statue niches on either side. A sedilia and shelf piscina have survived. At one time the church had a bell dated c1320.
The church has not had regular services since 1967 and is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.
St Margaretís Church is located .5 mile from Hales at the junction of the B1136 and the A146, south-east of Norwich.
Photos of exterior and interior of church © by Barbara Ballard.
Photos of font and gallery by Evelyn Simak and photo Hales Hall by Graham Horn, courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland