Parish Summary: Repps with Bastwick

This Parish Summary is an overview of the large amount of information held for the parish, and only selected examples of sites and finds in each period are given. It has been beyond the scope of the project to carry out detailed research into the historical background, documents, maps or other sources, but we hope that the Parish Summaries will encourage users to refer to the detailed records, and to consult the bibliographical sources referred to below. Feedback and any corrections are welcomed by email to heritage@norfolk.gov.uk

The east Norfolk parish of Repps with Bastwick is situated south of Potter Heigham and west of Martham, its northern boundary defined by the River Thurne.  Repps comes from Old English and refers to strips of land in a fen that could be tilled. Bastwick is also from Old English, meaning a farm in a lime grove. The two settlements that make up the parish have a long history, and were certainly well established by the time of the Norman conquest, their population, land ownership and productive resources being detailed in the Domesday Book of 1086.

The earliest evidence of human activity comes in the form of prehistoric but otherwise undateable flint flakes (NHER 34005, 34007 and 34982) and a hammerstone (NHER 34005). The earliest object to which a fairly certain date can be given is a Mesolithic or Neolithic blade (NHER 33268). Neolithic flint finds are a blade (NHER 17680), a chipped axehead (NHER 33268) and a polished axehead (NHER 34981) found in Bastwick. Between Repps and Bastwick is an important multi-period settlement site (NHER 21837) with possibly Neolithic ditches and enclosures. The only Bronze Age find to date is a barbed and tanged flint arrowhead (NHER 37007), but aerial photography has tentatively identified several Bronze Age ring ditches, the remains of flattened burial mounds (for instance NHER, 45090, 45091 and 45092). Two probable barrow cemeteries (NHER 17681 and 44950) have also been noted. There are quite a few barrow sites in the general area, possibly due to the presence of the river, where these features seem to have concentrated. No Iron Age finds have been noted to date, and Roman material is currently limited to coins (NHER 33268 and 35318), pottery fragments (NHER 34005 and 34006) and a stud (NHER 34983). The only Saxon find is a stirrup strap mount (NHER 35318).

The medieval period has left the parish with its oldest surviving structures. Probably the oldest of these is the church of Saint Peter and St Paul in Repps (NHER 8552). This church has a 12th century round tower with an ornate late 13th century belfry and 15th century battlements. The nave is 14th century and the chancel was mid 15th century, demolished and replaced in brick in the 18th century. The brick south porch is 17th century. The whole building was then given a Victorian restoration. Inside is part of a 16th century screen and a 15th century traceried octagonal font.

St Peter’s Chapel in Bastwick (NHER 8538) is a 14th and 15th century chapel, in ruins by 1618. Only the square tower remains. Various fragments of medieval stonework, including the font bowl, have been noted in nearby houses and gardens. 

Photograph of Heigham Bridge, a medieval and later bridge of brick and stone over the River Thurne

Heigham Bridge, a medieval and later bridge of brick and stone over the River Thurne. (© NCC)

Heigham Bridge (NHER 8525) is a medieval and later bridge of brick and stone over the River Thurne, on the main road from Yarmouth to North Walsham. It has three arches, the middle one rounded, the two side ones pointed.

Other medieval buildings have not survived. At NHER 14969, east of Bastwick, is the supposed site of Manor House, owned by the Bishops of Norwich and later by Sir Geoffrey Haslett. It burnt down in the 17th century.

Quite a number of medieval objects have been recovered, including coins (NHER 8529, 34983 and 35965), seal matrices (NHER 30632 and 35318), pottery fragments (NHER 34005, 34006 and 36199), buckles (NHER 34009 and 34980), pilgrim bottles (NHER 33268 and 37007), a horse harness pendant (NHER 34005) and a crucifix (NHER 35318).

Of the post medieval buildings to survive, probably the earliest are the barn at Grove Farm (NHER 29996) and Dawn Cottage and Deneholm in Bastwick (NHER 40832). Grove Farm is a group of farm buildings, including a 17th century or earlier timber framed barn with its wattle and daub infill replaced with bricks, a stable with its walls replaced in 19th century brick and other mid 19th century brick buildings. Dawn Cottage and Deneholm is a thatched house, now two dwellings, one storey high with attics. It was originally a timber framed building of pre 17th century date. The upper floor and chimney stack were added in the 17th century, and in the 18th/19th century the walls were replaced in brick.

A later survival is Repps Mill (NHER 8550). This is a drainage mill, now converted to residential use with a balcony at the front and extensions to the rear.

Other post medieval structures have not lasted the course. Two drainage windmills (NHER 8548 and 8549) on the marshy ground near the river are marked on old maps, but have now gone, replaced by modern pumps. Further south at Repps Mill House is NHER 15549, the site of Repps windmill, marked on a late 18th century map. It was blown down in 1895, though steam milling continued on the site until about 1902. To the west of this is NHER 16671, the site of a brickworks. The kiln has been destroyed but the pit remains. NHER 12100 is the site of an early 18th century brick house, subdivided in the 19th century. It has now all been demolished save for a few small outbuildings.

Running through the parish is the old Midland and Great Northern railway (NHER 13581), a railway line that linked Great Yarmouth to Sutton Bridge via Stalham, North Walsham, Aylsham, Melton Constable, Fakenham and King's Lynn. It opened in stages between 1865 and 1933. All of the line is now closed, although some sections survive as paths.

Potter Heigham Chalets (NHER 39354) by the river is a group of small inter-war chalets, built in a range of pseudo-vernacular styles. The chalets are built of iron or wood framing and are covered in weatherboarding or painted corrugated iron. Some of the chalets are thatched and have false timber framing. This is the largest concentration of this type of inter-war chalet in Broadland.

During World War Two, Heigham Bridge (NHER 8525) was considered a tactically important crossing point in the event of invasion, and defences built around it at the time (NHER 45066) can be seen on 1940s aerial photographs. The defences were cleared away after the war, and no trace of them can be seen today.

West of Repps Mill Farm is a Cold War Royal Observer Corps underground monitoring post (NHER 34172), opened in 1958 and closed down in 1968. It formed part of a network of such posts, designed to monitor fallout in the event of a nuclear attack.

Piet Aldridge (NLA), 27 October 2006.

 

Further Reading

Brown, P. (Ed.), 1984. Domesday Book: Norfolk (Chichester, Phillimore & Co)

Rye, J., 1991. A Popular Guide to Norfolk Place Names (Dereham, The Larks Press)

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