Churches featured in Dad’s Army

The original series of Dad’s Army was a much-loved BBC sitcom which ran from 1968 to 1977.  Set during World War II it featured the exploits of the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard. Most of the external footage for the series was filmed in and around the town of Thetford and showcases the beautiful scenery of the Brecks which straddle the Norfolk – Suffolk border.

Many of the scenes were filmed in the Stanford Battle Area (now STANTA), created in 1942 as a training area for British and NATO forces.

Five villages were evacuated to create the area – namely; Stanford, Langford, Tottington, West Tofts and Buckenham Tofts. The villagers were originally promised that they would be able to return once the war finished yet this was never to be.

The series give us a brief glimpse of this lost world and the show features several churches including two of the four medieval churches from these villages;  St Mary’s Church, West Tofts and St Andrew’s Church, Langford.

St Mary’s Church, West Tofts

St Mary’s is a medieval church which was partly rebuilt and remodelled in 1849 by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, the leading light in the Gothic Revival Movement, and named “God’s Architect” by some.

Sadly, Pugin died before his work was completed, but his vision was completed by his son Edward Welby Pugin. It was under the patronage of the Sutton family who owned the neighbouring Lynford Hall, and where Augustus Sutton was Rector, that Pugin was able to express his ecclesiological principles to realise his vision of the ideal medieval church, and this has been described as one of his greatest accomplishments.

The church has been lovingly restored by the Diocese of Norwich with the help of Historic England and other grants, and is occasionally used for worship, with the day-today management resting with the Ministry of Defence due to the restricted access.

St Mary’s features in two episodes of Dad’s Army. In the series the church is called St Aldhelm’s Church. It features in series 3, episode 3 ‘The Lion has Phones’ in 1969. In this episode the platoon is disguised as tombstones.

The church also features in ‘Don’t Forget the Diver’, series 4 Episode 2 in 1970 where the Verger answers the tomb–phone.

St Andrew’s Church, Langford

This small unassuming church dates from the early 12th Century and features a wonderful Romanesque south doorway and a nationally important memorial by Christopher Horsenaile the elder, commemorating Sir Jacob Garrard, Sir Thomas Garrard, Sir Nicholas Garrard and other members of the Garrard family.

This church features in Series 3, Episode 13 in 1969. The episode is called ‘No Spring for Frazer’ and the church where old Mr Bluett is being buried is St Andrew’s Church, Langford.

Although both churches have restricted access it is sometimes possible to visit them. To find out more about accessing the churches please click here.