Did you know about these deserted villages in Norfolk?

Tottington was knocked down to make way for the army's training ground. Picture: SONYA BROWN

Tottington was knocked down to make way for the army's training ground. Picture: SONYA BROWN - Credit: Archant

Norfolk has more than 150 deserted villages, more than almost any other county in England.

The lost village of Godwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The lost village of Godwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

To this day, there are still lost villages being discovered. Here are seven in Norfolk.

Godwick

Just six miles south of Fakenham is one of Norfolk’s most well-known lost villages. The All Saints Church Tower of Godwick still stands in a field surrounded by earthworks and sunken ways.

What was always a small village, Godwick declined between the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1428, there were only 10 households and by 1508, 11 of its 18 properties were empty.

Wolterton Hall Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Wolterton Hall Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant


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The land in Godwick could at one point no longer be used for agriculture due to the high clay content and poor draining.

By 1585, the village had essentially disappeared. Since then it has been combined with Tittleshall.

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Wolterton

The village of Wolterton was famous for its 18th century hall. The original hall was burnt down and work to rebuild the house began in 1727. The parkland of the hall was landscaped including the lake and a stretch of oak and beech trees.

Those living in the village, who lived just to the north of St Margaret’s church, were relocated as part of the redesign. Those who rebuilt the hall removed the majority of the stone work from the church and left just the tower.

Wolterton’s Lay Subsidy records for 1332 and 1334 reflected how small the community was. Eventually it was deserted and its parish was incorporated into Wickmere.

Heckingham

The village of Heckingham is two miles east of Loddon. It had a range of settlement sites including from the Roman and medieval periods and the church of St Gregory still stands on a small hill.

Previous studies of this village suggest that its settlements have shifted over time. It is indicated that an early Saxon settlement to the south of the church moved north towards the valley of the Chet.

The population of the lost village reduced by 18pc between 1334 and 1449 and it then continued to decline in the late medieval period.

Tottington

This medieval village was known as a Second World War deserted village.

The British Army took control of Tottington so that it could be used as a military range while they prepared for war operations so the modern village, which had 200 residents, was abandoned in 1942.

The residents of Tottington were told they would be able to return home after the army were finished. None of those residents were allowed to re-enter the village as it remained part of the Ministry of Defence’s Thetford infantry training area.

The last surviving resident of Tottington died in 2019 at the age of 98.

Great Hautbois

Great Hautbois is eight miles north east of Norwich and is alongside the River Bure which is north of Coltishall. You may know the deserted village for St Theobald’s, the ruined church with a scenic graveyard but no roof.

Great Hautbois was once joined to Little Hautbois but in 1664 there was only eight people listed as living in this village.

There used to be a hospital in the village for travellers and the poor which was founded by Sir Peter de Alto Bosco. Great Hautbois was combined with the parish of Lammas.

Little Hautbois

Nine miles north east of Norwich and along the River Bure is the sister village to Great Hautbois. Its name was fitting for the village as there were only 42 residents in 1845.

Little Hautbois is now part of the Lammas but it once was a separate parish as it had its own church called St Mary’s. The church was deserted in the 16th century and now in its place stands the Little Hautbois Hall.

There are a couple of houses and a farm in Little Hautbois now but the population of this village is included in the civil parish of Buxton with Lamas.

Pudding Norton

Pudding Norton is one mile south of Fakenham. All that remains there today is the tower of St Margaret’s church and Pudding Norton Hall as the medieval village was cleared to make way for grazing in the late 16th and early 17th century.

The abandoned village is on a slope which spreads towards a stream that flows into the River Wensum.

In 1329 this village had only 15 households paying the Lay Subsidy tax. By 1602 the church had been decaying for a long time and in 1845 there were records of a population of 25 living in Pudding Norton.

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