West Walton, St Mary's Church
West Walton, St Mary's Church
St Mary's church at West Walton is one of those oddities in England; a parish church with a detached bell tower. Though not unique by any stretch, it is sufficiently unusual to make the building worthy of note.

The tower is worthy of note in its own right. It was built of Barnack stone in about 1240 and is one of the finest towers associated with any English church, from any period. The tower rises in four stages, each more decorated than the last. The sheer bulk of the tower would suggest that it ought to be attached to a magnificent building, even a cathedral.

Interestingly, the main passage to the body of St Mary's passes right through an arch built into the base of the tower, making the tower probably the finest makeshift lychgate in the country!

The interior of the church is stunning, a spacious, light, and airy symphony of Early English architecture. The 15th-century roof is beautifully carved, with figures of angels looking down over the nave. There are also an intriguing set of Georgian roundels on the arcade arches depicting the 12 tribes of Isreal.

There are bits of medieval floor tiles still in place, and a four-arched sedilia in the sanctuary. Throughout, the carving detail and the wonderful simplicity of the Early English architecture is quite wonderful.

While St Mary's serves as the parish church, the tower is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.