The Church of St Margaret, Hardley, is still virtually unspoilt. It stands north of the river Chet overlooking the marshes and was named for St Margaret, a Queen of Scotland, when she was first canonised in 1250. It has a round tower typical of many Norfolk churches which is, along with at least part of the west wall, almost certainly of Saxon origin. It contains 3 bells, two of the bells are dated 1607 and 1634, this last having the coat of arms of the Brasyers. The third bell is undated but is believed to have been cast in Norwich. These bells have not rung for many years due to the poor condition of the tower structure, but electricity has been connected and a service is held once a month. The building remains unlocked at present and visitors are always welcome.
The church is entered through a 14th century north porch and there is a fine 15th century font. The 15th century wall painting of St Christopher and the smaller figure of St Catherine were discovered during restoration some years ago, as were the two round consecration marks on the west wall. The rood screen was originally 15th century but is much restored. There are many graves still tended by parishioners at the sides of the churchyard. At the rear of the church are many old headstones with some of the lettering still legible. There are stones which mark the graves of the three young men who drowned on the river Yare on 11 August 1914: “Samuel Warman aged 22, Frederick James Fish aged 18 and Major William Lutkin aged 17. A tragic accident”.
The Hardley War Memorial also stands in front of the church. Inside the church there is a plaque on the wall dedicated to the memory of the men of Langley and Hardley who were killed in both wars. Also there is a list of vicars and their predecessors which dates back to the 1100s. When, early in the reign of Elizabeth I, parishes were ordered to purchase chalices for use in the new communion services, the Hardley church wardens went to Norwich to give their order to the silversmith. It was decided to have the parish name engraved on it, this appears as ‘Hardla’ and is still in use today.
A hornbeam was planted on church land in front of the gates in 1994 to commemorate the centenary of the parish council.
Villagers have worshipped here since Norman times. The size of the church is evidence that the village had a much more affluent past, no doubt due to the trade from the nearby river. The church is frequently visited by hikers and holidaymakers from the Broads.