Parish Summary: Starston

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

Starton parish is situated at the very south of the county of Norfolk, with Suffolk as little as 600m away to the south. The name of the parish may be derived from an old English name, and may refer to ‘Styrr’s enclosure’. It is a narrow, rectangular parish between its larger neighbours of Redenhall with Harleston to the east, and the Pulham parishes to the west. The parish has a single village and is largely covered by fields, although some small areas of wood remain.

There has been little archaeological investigation in the parish, and unlike its neighbouring parishes which boast hundreds of sites each, Starston has ony 42 recorded sites. The lack of metal detector activity in particular means that very few objects have been recovered. This form of evidence is of unparalleled importance for the pre medieval periods, from which buildings are unlikely to survive. 

Drawing of a Late Saxon suspension unit from a balance found in Starston.

A Late Saxon suspension unit from a balance found in Starston.

 (© NCC and S. White.)

As a result, evidence for the early occupation is limited to a handful of sites scattered across the parish. Recovered objects are limited to worked flints and Roman coins (NHER 21654), a Mesolithic to Early Neolithic flaked axehead (NHER 35422), a Bronze Age axe and a Late Saxon balance (NHER 39359). One ring ditch has also been noted on aerial photography of Harleston common, and it may date to the Bronze Age (NHER 11704). However, this represents all of the evidence for the occupation of this parish before the medieval period. 

Small objects from the medieval and post medieval periods are also not numerous. These include coins (NHER 35422) pottery sherds and window glass (NHER 36079) and metal objects from both periods. However, despite the small numbers of objects recovered, the parish does have over twenty-five buildings that have been listed by English Heritage. Of these, the Church of St Margaret (NHER 11091) is one of the most appealing. The building probably dates to the 15th century, although both the interior and exterior are marked by a restoration in 1870. 

Also of interest is Starston Hall, a timber framed building constructed around 1600 that has been encased in 19th century brick on three sides. This site also has the semicircular remains of a medieval moat. The village of Starston is small, but its streets do retain a number of buildings some of which, like the Hall, have19th century brick exteriors hiding earlier timber frames (NHER 45909). Starston itself has obviously suffered from being close to the successful market towns of Pulham Market and Harleston, as well as Diss just 10km away. Unlike its neighbours, the numbers of building present here suggests a much less economically active village, and it remains small today. 

One interesting feature of this parish is Starston Place model farm (NHER 11090), built around 1840 by Samuel Taylor. The farm was initially quite large, a number of buildings constructed in flint with red brick dressings arranged around a central courtyard. The majority of these buildings have been sold off separately, and these include a now converted implement shed and granary (NHER 48725), Pheasantry Cottage (NHER 48366) formerly a garden house, and Home Farm Lodge (NHER 45614). Unfortunately the three-storey house that originally stood as part of the farm was demolished in 1962. 

Ruth Fillery-Travis (NLA), 18 January 2007.


Further Reading

Hunt's Directory of East Norfolk with Part of Suffolk, 1850.

Knott, S., July 2005. ‘St Margaret, Starston’. Available: Accessed: 18 January 2007

Mortlock D. P. & Roberts, C. V., 1981. The Popular Guide to Norfolk Churches No. 2, Norwich, Central and South Norfolk (Cambrdige, Acorn Editions)

Morris, J. (General Editor), 1984. Domesday Book, 33 Norfolk, Part I and Part II (Chichester, Phillimore & Co)

Pevsner, N., 1997. The buildings of England: Norfolk 2: Northwest and South (London, Penguin Books)

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

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