This lofty and majestic tower, the highest in Norfolk, has been a land- and sea-mark for nearly six centuries. No matter in which direction one might approach Cromer, it is this fine tower which immediately attracts one's attention, soaring in the sky as a reminder that the church has been a focal point of worship to Almighty God in the past, present and, we trust, in the future.
It is constructed mainly of knapped flint, and measures at the inside base 22 feet square, with the outside being 35 feet square. From the ground, the top of the pinnacles reach a height of 160 feet 4 inches, with buttresses up to 130 feet, which are beautifully carved and shaped with freestone and squared flints.
The tower is divided from the nave by an imposing and graceful arch, which has pillars measuring 6 feet in width. There is a recess in the north wall which, in olden times, was most probably used as a receptacle for processional crosses and banner staves. At the junction of the north and west walls, there is a door which leads to the tower staircase. It is interesting to note that it is constructed in two different sections; is partly brick vaulted and is unusually large.
The tower staircase is illuminated by electric light in addition to the 12 small windows to be seen at different levels. The tower is lit on the west side by the West Window above the west door, and on all sides by 4 splendid quatrefoil windows or Sound Holes which are most elaborately traced and very pleasing to the eye. Above the louvres there are four fine double-light lancet windows on each side of the tower. Higher than these windows and again on all sides of the tower, are five plain shields arranged in a two-one-two pattern. As the early prints of 1737 show, the tower did have a weathervane, and a part of the base still remains today. We can only assume it disappeared in the general decay of the church during the 18th Century.
According to an architect's report of 1857 the tower was structurally sound but needed some restoration to keep the weather out. However, it was struck by lightning in 1871 and the south west pinnacle was cut in two and taken down for safety. In 1873 it was again struck by lightning but on this occasion the bolt passed down the conductor which had been fitted after the 1871 strike. Unfortunately it tore up the pathway at the foot of the tower and broke many nearby windows. However, in 1884, work was known to be in progress on the tower and, according to contemporary writers, the scaffolding was a wonderful piece of work. From the ground to the very top of the tower was covered with a lattice work of poles, and to see the workmen climbing about this structure was a thrilling sight to behold. The work was completed and the tower fully restored by 1886.
During the 1939-45 War, the tower was used as a Fire Spotting point, for in 1941 local business men and property owners formed, and financed by voluntary subscriptions, the Cromer Fire Spotting Co-operative Committee. In consequence the tower was manned during the night by a Fire Spotter who, from his point of vantage, was able to telephone information to the Fire and Civil Defence services, enabling them to deal with incidents with the minimum of delay. So once again this grand old tower played a vital part during the time of extreme peril to the nation. In 1968 steeplejacks removed a considerable quantity of weeds and moss that had collected high up on the exterior walls, and today the tower is considered to be in excellent condition.