The Atwelle Confession

The Atwelle Confession

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After discovering rare gargoyles mysteriously positioned inside an ancient church being restored in the small English town of Atwelle, the architect Don Whitby and a young research historian Margeaux Wood realize that the gargoyles are predicting the bizarre murders that are occurring in the town.

Five hundred years earlier when the church is being built, two powerful families in Atwelle are contesting control of the region in the delicate backdrop of King Henry VIII’s dispute with the Pope over the King’s divorce. In the middle of these conflicts, the same bizarre murders are being committed in the town.

Two stories of identical macabre murders five hundred years apart ─ One surprising solution in the mystery of the gargoyles and the Atwelle Confession.


The Atwelle Confession is a terrific story of intrigue, then and now. Altogether a pleasure to read! It kept me guessing right up to a shocking conclusion. It’s a twist I didn’t see coming. Will you?” — Mystery Suspense Reviews 

“I liked the ending of The Atwelle Confession, didn’t see it coming at all. — The Good Men Project 

“I really liked the concept of The Atwelle Confession. Gordonson gives the reader a wealth of historical detail to work with. The interplay between Tudor England and modern times was well done.” —The Irregular Reader

The Atwelle Confession is a unique representation of the medieval church and the controversy between Henry VIII and the Pope. It definitely made me want to journey to England and look up St. Clement's Church to see those ominous and creepy gargoyles holding up the roof. ” —The Cyber Librarian 

"Gordonson did a wonderful job of painting the setting. When I was reading the 16th century portion I really felt we were there, I felt the emptiness of the church and the lack of modern amenities. When we were in the 21st century, it mostly felt authentic. The detail and the focus on the architecture was really well written.” —The Oddness of Moving Things

The Atwelle Confession is a historical thriller by Joel Gordonson. The reason behind the murders is impossible to discern but the excitement builds and centuries-old evil is revealed.” —The Mystery Site


While the storyline and characters in this novel are fictional, the discovery of rare half demonic-half human wooden figures carved in the ceiling of the parish church of St. Clement is a true event. The carvings were “re-discovered” in 2012 by a good friend, a medieval historian from Cambridge, England, during her study of the unusual facets of the church in Outwell, Norfolk. BBC coverage of the discovery can be read here.

Told to me over dinner, her intriguing tale of unexpectedly peering through binoculars at something mysteriously unidentifiable in the dark ceiling of the church prompted my imagination and resulted in my rough outline of this book that same evening.

Later, during my research and writing of the manuscript, she generously shared with me her comprehensive knowledge of the numerous remarkable facets and the history of St. Clement’s, including an ancient will of the prominent Beaupre family from the village.

St. Clement’s is a unique collection of features and artifacts, especially for a church in a small village off the beaten path. Many of the descriptions in this book are taken from the diverse and fascinating aspects of the church. In addition to the carvings, the church houses an ancient wooden chest built with special compartments to hold important documents, an alms box with uncommon carving, monuments to influential families from the village, and a wonderfully worn spiral stone staircase leading to a porch and a parvis overlooking the nave.

The church is being lovingly restored and preserved, despite daunting obstacles, through the efforts of a dedicated group of parishioners who deserve admiration, thanks, and our support.

For information about the history of St. Clement's, please visit their website.

You can watch this video about the current restoration of St.Clement’s.

Hardcover | $22.95US | ISBN: 978-1590794302 | September 19, 2017