Record Details

NHER Number:15276
Type of record:Monument
Name:Site of Witchingham Old Hall, at England's Farm

Summary

This is the site of Witchingham Old Hall, a 16th or 17th century hall, which was altered in the 18th century and demolished in the 19th century. The nearby barn probably dates to the late 17th or 18th century, as does a length of brick garden wall. The farmhouse of England's Farm has also been demolished.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TG 1012 1883
Map Sheet:TG11NW
Parish:GREAT WITCHINGHAM, BROADLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

Site of Witchingham Old Hall.
Tom Martin's Church Notes, c. 1740 (S1) include a drawing labelled "back part of Withcingham Hall before pulled down, toward the garden." It shows a two-storey house of 5 bays, with wooden-cross windows, a door in the second bay from the left. Above each bay is an unusual type of shaped gable, with dormers behind two of them. A short wing at right angles has two small windows each side of a chimney in the gable. There is a courtyard with a crenellated wall. The overall impression is of a mid-17th century date. Another drawing is labelled "stables" and shows a house of two storeys and dormers, 2 bays and a gable end in the façade, stepped gables and crenellations, and a lower stepped gable to one side. This may be another view of part of the same house, perhaps more appropriately labelled "a view from the stable court" or such. Alternatively, the lower gable may be the stables. However, the impression is of an earlier date, perhaps 16th century.

White's Directory of 1845 (S2) says that John norris, which died in 1777, built what "is now called the Old Hall." Faden's map of 1797 (S3) shows this building as "Witchingham Hall" and does not name what is now called Great Witchingham Hall though he marks it (and elsewhere he confuses the names of halls). A 19th century press cutting preserved in the Bolingbroke Collection (S4) states that carvings from Kirstead Hall are in "Witchingham Old Hall which is an 18th century building."

It would seem therefore that this is what was latterly known as the Old Hall, a 16th and 17th century house rebuilt in the mid-18th century and demolished sometime in the late 19th century. It should not be confused with Great Witchingham Hall (NHER 7740), though it is possible that the carvings from Kirstead are in fact there, the newspaper reporter having perhaps confused the names and looked up the date of the Old Hall rather than the Hall in his copy of White.
For full details see secondary file.
E. Rose (NAU) 18 September 1980.

October 1982. Field Observation.
The farmhouse of England's Farm has been demolished and all that remains is a red brick barn aligned north-south. In the east wall of the barn there is a round-arched cart door, and in its north gable there is a large pointed window blocked in brick. A rectangular window in the blocking is now itself blocked, and both are cut by a recent cart door. Running eastwards from the barn there is a brick garden wall, ca. 2.5m high. At its eastern end there is an overgrown avenue running south. Both the barn and the wall are likely 18th century, but possibly early 17th century in date. The site of the Hall itself is overgrown.

NGR corrected from original TG 101 188.
M. Horlock (NLA), 24 March 2003.

June 2016. Investigation.
Wensum Barn. The unusual building has a complex history . The original structure of early C17 date was extended in the 18th century and the original gable-end demolished. The original barn has a blocked large two-centred arch in its north gable. This was the head of a large opening which has been widened and strengthened with a reinforced concrete beam. The side walls of the barn are very wide to mid height and continue much reduced leaving substantial off sets. A fine four-centred arch forms the side cart entrance and there is a respondant blocked opening opposite. On the west side, now beneath a lean-to addition there is a wide blocked domestic window with remains of a hood mould. Under the eaves on the same elevation there is a blocked splayed window - also domestic. A similar window is found at the north end of the east elevation and a blocked doorway beneath. The extension to the south is entirely domestic and 'polite'. The gable-end has a symmetrical pair of windows flanking a doorway all blocked. The openings have fine skewback arches with rubbed brick voussoirs. A similar opening exists in the adjcent lean-to. The brick work is tuck-pointed, an unusual, distinctive and high status method. Above the openings is a very bold string course of moulded brick. The roof of the building is of re-used 17th century trusses with 18th-century purlin joints and a ridge piece. The numbered trusses are not consecutive and there several empty mortises. The south extension and the roof are contemporary - late 18th century.
The domestic openings and in particular the two-centred opening in the north gable-end in the original barn were probably simply to give the barn a domestic appearance to the elevations which face the now demolished hall. The north gable -end would have looked like a large window in a medieval church. It is most unusual to have any opening in the gable-ends of traditional barns. The practice of giving barns a domestic appearance is not uncommon (the barn at Godwick (Tittleshall CP) is a famous example). As regards the southern extension with its tuck pointing, rubbed brick skewback arches, bold string course would have had sash windows with glazing bars and a large 6 panelled door. The stone step still survives in situ. This gives the barn a smart appearance from the south. There is no evidence, such as a chimney, to suggest that the building was converted into a house in the 18th century. Does this mean that another building such as the rebuilt hall was on a different site to the south of the barn?
S. Heywood, 8 June 2016

Monument Types

  • HALL HOUSE (15th Century to 19th Century - 1500 AD to 1899 AD)
  • BARN (16th Century to 21st Century - 1550 AD to 2100 AD)
  • GARDEN WALL (16th Century to 21st Century - 1550 AD to 2100 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S1>Documentary Source: Martin, T. c. 1700-1799. Collections of Church Notes. Norfolk Records Office. c. 1740.
<S2>Directory: White, W.. 1845. White's History, Gazetteer and Directory of Norfolk.
<S3>Publication: Faden, W. and Barringer, J. C. 1989. Faden's Map of Norfolk in 1797.
<S4>Archive: Bolingbroke Collection.

Related records - none

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