The History of St.Margaret's Church

The Building - Interior

The aisles extend to the western face of the tower, and the area below the tower is open. The West end of the church is wide and high. On the West wall are two war memorials dedicated to the men of Swannington who fell in first and second world wars.

The view along the nave to the chancel is dominated by the magnificent East window, framed by solid Norman pillars.

Click here to find out more about the magnificent East window.

The stained glass window in the south of the chancel is dedicated to Mary Anne Rodgers of Swannington Manor who died in 1869.

There is a triple blind arcade in the north chancel wall and a double arcade in the south wall associated with the window. These are decorated style sedilia with ogee arches.

The altar rails, choir stalls, and Rector’s chair were made by the Revd. George Atkinson (1891-1917). The communion table appears to be made from two different pieces. The main part is marked 1635 and the remainder is of a later construction. It was given to the church by Mr. Edmund Bartell in 1846.

In the South wall of the sanctuary is a Norman pillar piscina which features splendid carvings of St George killing the dragon. The piscina is likely to have come from elsewhere as there is a 14th century piscina set in the wall behind it.

On the South side of the chancel arch there is a door leading to the stairs that would have allowed access to the rood-screen gallery. n the South aisle there is a piscina set into the wall and towards the west is a13th century octagonal Purbeck marble font, which has an oak cover and stands on a stone plinth with supporting legs added by the Victorians.

The church contains a very large quantity of graffiti inscribed into the stonework of the tower base interior, many of which are clearly pre-Reformation in date. There is also an extremely large wall painting of St Christopher on medieval plaster, dating from the 14th century, located on the North face of the south arcade. Across the surface, and cutting through the pigment of the painting, is a large architectural inscription. Only fragments of the right-hand side of the design survive. Below the painting is an unusual, smaller scale architectural inscription. The general appearance is of a design related to a late 15th century window, but this has been covered by thick layers of lime-wash which have obscured much of the detail.

On the north chancel pillar is a drawing of a woman. There is a Latin phrase on a column in the south-west of the nave and on the furthermost north-west column there are several motifs inscribed to ward off the evil eye.

Above the North doorway are the royal arms of George III, which were given to the church by Jonathan Bladwell in 1762. The Bladwell family arrived in Swannington when William Bladwell came into possession of Swannington Manor and the estates of Swannington Hall in about 1630.

The three hatchments in the North aisle were also given by the Bladwell Family, each telling its own tale.

i) Quarterly of six :-(1) Bladwell, with crescent for difference, counter-charged with a label of three; (2) Gules, a fesse nebulée ermine, Notbeame or Notbone; (3) Argent, a fesse between two chevrons gules, Pecke; (4) Gules, a chevron fleury argent, Hinkley; (5) Argent, on a chevron between three crows sable, as many cinquefoils of the field, Caldebeck (the charges on the field should be “cornish coughs”); (6) Bladwell, without the mark of diference. Crest: Bladwell. The lion is “sable.” Motto: In coelo quies.

ii) Same as above, with the exception that there is no mark of difference on the first quartering. Crest: Bladwell.

iii) (In lozenge). Quarterly (1 and 4) Argent, a lion passant guardant gules or, Ogilvie; (2 and 3) Argent, a cross engrailed sable, Sinclair; impaling Bladwell. Charles James Bladwell Ogilvie died in 1848. His farther, General George Ogilvie, married Maria Barbara Bladwell.

In the North aisle is a cross reset in the wall.

The square white stone near the chancel step with the letters E. B. Vault 1816, marks the entrance to the Bartell vault.

Ledger Stones and Monuments


i) Per pale, a lion rampant. (Bladwell of Swannington, per pale, argent and or, a lion rampant sable; alibi, argent and gules. - Three Norf. Arm., Cod., A 394). Crest: a demi-lion rampant, per pale indented. (Bladwell, a demi-lion rampant, per pale indented argent and gules).

“Here Lyeth Buried William Bladwell, Esq., Who Dyed in January, 1642 aged 47. Ancestors Lyeth interred in Great Thurlow in Suffolk.

“Here alfoe lyeth William Bladwell, Esq., The younger sonn of ye above said William Bladwell, who departed this Life the 22nd day of January, 1697. Aged 78 yeares and upward.

ii) A swan, a chief ermine. (Pykarell sable, a swan proper; a chief ermine).

“Here lyeth interred the body of Barbara, the wife of William Bladwell (sic), Esq, Daughter of John Pykarell of Cringleford, Esq. She died the 17th of October, 1656, aged 62 yeares and upwards”.

iii) Bladwell; impaling, on a bend between two cotises, three lions passant. (Browne of Elsing, Sable, three lions passant in bend, two double cotises argent.)

For “Phillipa, wife of William Bladwell, Esq., who was the eldest daughter of Thomas Browne, late of Elsing, Esq., Deceased. She departed this life July 9th, 1701, aged 66.”

iv) There are wall monuments belonging to the Vickers, Hildyard, Bartell and Rodgers families.

The Nave

v) Bladwell. The field here is not “per pale,” impaling Browne.

For “Ann, ye wife of Giles Bladwell, Esq., the eldest Daughter of Thomas Browne, Esq., who departed this life May 25th, 1706.”

Under the Tower Arch

vi) V. A cross moline. (Upton, Sable, a cross moline or), im¬paling, A bend surmounted of a fesse. (Helwis of Morton, or, a bend gules surmounted of a fesse azure). Crest: A horse passant, bridled, saddled, and accoutred (Upton, on a ducal coronet a war horse passant sable, saddled, bridled, and accoutred or).

For “Anthony Upton, Gent, who died June 3rd 1765, aged 69; and also Mary his wife, who died November 1st, 1784, aged 87.”

The South Aisle

vii) Bladwell, impaling Helwis. Crest: Bladwell.

For “Ann Bladwell, the worthy wife of Charles Bladwell, Esq., eldest daughter of Nicholas Helwis, Esq., of Morton Hall, who died on Wednesday, the 20thof June, 1751, aged 63.” YH. Bladwell

viii) For William Bladwell, the son of Charles Bladwell and Ann his wife, who dyed March 30th, 1738, aged 14.” On a stone close by, "John Bladwell, son of John Bladwell of London, Gent., Grandson of John Bladwell, died May 18th, 1757, aged 20. John Bladwell died February 4th, 1779, in his 80th year.”

The Tower and Bells

The east wing of the Tower was re-built in 1898. The three bells in the tower are all of the 17th century . They bear the following inscriptions: - Treble, “E.T. 1674.” Alto, “E.T. 1674.” Tenor, “John Draper made me, 1621.”

The Wall Painting of St.Christopher

During the Development Stage of the Heritage Lottery Fund project we were able to commission a report on the wall painting which was carried out by Dr. Andrea Kirkham ACR.

Click here to see the results of the report

The Rev John Dixon Wortley - Swannington: Its Church, Rectors and History 1921
Richard Cooke - St Margaret’s Church, Swannington
Listing description - Department of Culture, Media and Sport
Simon Knott - Norfolk Churches
Edmund Farrer - The Church Heraldry of Norfolk
Matthew Champion - Architectural Inscriptions: New Discoveries in East Anglia