Built in 1796 on the site of an earlier mediaeval church by the first Lord Suffield, it was one of the first Gothic Revival buildings in Norfolk. It contains the font, tombs and memorials from the earlier church and the records name incumbents from 1200. Church records survive complete from 1549 and are held at the Norfolk Records Office.
The pink walls, blue plaster ceiling and the two magnificent screens give a unique interior, most striking on a sunny day when the light streams through the geometrically patterned windows. Most of the church furnishings date from the late 19th century. The building has attracted mixed comments over the years:
“It is perhaps the best specimen in England of the well-known Churchwardens’ Gothic,’ and is certainly the ugliest place of worship I have ever entered: description of it would be painful.” – Walter Rye 1883
“As in all human efforts there will be some defects, so it happens that Thorp Church is not entirely free; but what few there are,are so well counter-balanced by its beauties, which are numerous, that it cannot fail to be, in a high degree, worthy of the attention of the curious.” – Edmund Bartell 1806
“A delightful country version of the early gothic revival.” – Sir John Betjeman 1964
St. Margaret of Antioch, Poppyland Group of Churches, Diocese of Norwich
As with many small villages, the church as a viable institution has a fragile future. Sunday services alone will not sustain the day to day expenses of maintaining such a cherished building. In 1997, in order to make the building accessible for a widening range of community activities, the Parochial Church Council embarked on an ambitious Millenium project to provide toilet and kitchen facilities. In 2002 this “Project 2000” reached its conclusion. Costing £40,000, the extension has taken the form of replicating the coach-house that was demolished in the 1952, thus restoring the symmetry of the building so notable in the original design. The money for the project was raised locally over a period of 4 years and it was built and supervised by Thorpe Market residents with the necessary skills.
The day to day responsibility for the building and the activities that take place therein are shouldered by the Churchwarden and the Parochial Church Council. The Team Vicar oversees church-life at Thorpe Market, being one of the seven parishes in the Poppyland Group of churches. All workers at Thorpe Market church are unpaid volunteers.