Many people have asked ‘How old is our church, and how can we tell which is the oldest part of the present building?' Perhaps the following will go some way to answering these questions.
Situated further east than the present village church, Hacheston was a fair-sized Roman market town from the first till the late fourth century AD and almost certainly there were Saxon settlements somewhere within the parish boundaries. A church may have stood on the present site since c.800 AD but no visible trace of this first church remains - certainly it was small and, possibly, constructed of wood.
This small church would have been transformed into stone at or before the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066. Domesday Book in 1087 records Hacheston (then spelt Hacestuna) as having a church with 16 acres of land. (Such as the Fairground Meadow which appears to be in its original shape and size. It lies south-west across the road from the church.) Very little alteration took place in most parish churches because of the general unrest between 1066 and 1087. So we have written evidence that a church was standing at Hacheston in 1087, and most probably in 1066, and before. Domesday Book, copies of which you can see in the British Museum, was a survey of all property and land existing in 1087.
The structural evidence of the Norman style can be seen in our church by the early twelfth-century door and archway between the vestry and the church. Originally this would have been the main entrance into the church, with no porch, and is the only remaining visible part of the Norman church which stood on this site. The stonework of the arch and some of the surrounding masonry has been cleaned. This has brought to light a number of crosses on the sides of the doorway and also the early very roughly diagonally cut stones worked with an axe. Notice the typical nail-headed ornament on the archway.
By the early twelfth century the Norman doorway would have lead into a small Norman nave and chancel. (The core of the north wall and the Norman doorway are the only remaining parts of this early church.) The chancel would, in all likelihood, have had a curved end - called an apse - and the roof would have been thatched and lower than our present one. There are traces of yet another roof height on the north side of the tower.