Parish Summary: Tivetshall St Margaret

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

Tivetshall St Margaret is situated in the South Norfolk local government district. The parish contains the village of Tivetshall St Margaret, and the land use is almost exclusively agricultural and pastoral. To the east the parish is bounded by route of the Roman Pye Road (NHER 7947), now the A140, and to the west the boundary runs close to the railway line from Norwich to Diss (NHER 13578), which once served the nearby village. 

The name Tivetshall, which this parish shares with its neighbour to the south, Tivetshall St Mary, is derived from the Old English for ‘lapwing’s nook’.

A small parish, this area has not been subject to extensive metal detecting or any period of expansion that might result in archaeological excavations. As a result, the number of sites recorded here numbers just twenty-eight. However, despite this low number there is evidence from the earliest period of human occupation, in the form of a polished flint axehead (NHER 10955) and some worked flints (NHER 10956). Unfortunately no objects from the Bronze or Iron Ages have been recovered, but a small number survive from the Roman period. 

These include a copper alloy coin minted under the emperor Maximianus in the third century (NHER 10958), some pottery sherds (NHER 15625), and a fragment of a puddingstone quern (NHER 20098). Saxon period objects are even scarcer, limited to an Early Saxon wrist-clasp (NHER 31211) and an Early Saxon bow brooch (NHER 34501).

Evidence from the medieval period is more numerous, and includes a small concentration in an area in the south of the parish (NHER 34501). Other objects of interest include a small number of coins (NHER 34501) and a silver penny minted between 1280 and 1281 (NHER 20099). The medieval period does give us the earliest monuments in the parish, but these are limited to the medieval moated site of Bunnett’s Moat (NHER 10967) in the southeastern corner of the parish, and St Margaret’s Church (NHER 10970). 

Photograph of the tympanum screen inside St Margaret's Church, Tivetshall St Margaret. Photograph from

The tympanum screen inside St Margaret's Church, Tivetshall St Margaret. Photograph from (© S. Knott.)

St Margaret’s Church is a strong flint and stone church situated within the flat agricultural land of south Norfolk. Both the square crenellated tower and the surprising tall chancel date to the 1300s, and the lower nave has some stringently Perpendicular style windows. Inside, the tympanum screen above the chancel arch, visible on the photograph, is a surprising survival indicative of how the interior of the church has remained undisturbed. A number of 15th century bench ends survive, as do fragments of 14th century stained glass in the east window.

Of the other buildings of architectural interest, all date to the post medieval period. Only Willow Tree Farmhouse (NHER 31819) may contain elements derived from an earlier, late medieval house. The post medieval buildings are largely limited to Station Road/Lodge Road area to the north of the parish, and a few located near to the church and the village. Of these the 17th century timber-framed Beck Green Farmhouse (NHER 45616) is largely representative, as is the similar Railway Farmhouse (NHER 48579) on the western edge of the parish. 

More recent buildings of interest include the Friend’s Meeting House on Lodge Road (NHER 45749), said to have been built in 1812, and the site of a tower mill that stood on the southern border of the parish (NHER 10973). The mill was built between 1851 and 1852, last used in 1929, and demolished in 1938. Also constructed in the 19th century, and of particular interest, is the Eastern Union Railway Line (NHER 13578). 

This line ran from Norwich to London via Diss and Ipswich, and was considered of crucial importance to Norwich during the 19th century when despite lines being built across the country, Norwich risked remaining unconnected to London. A connection via Cambridge was opened in 1845, but in 1849 a direct route through Diss and Ipswich was opened under the name Eastern Union Railway. 

The construction of this line involved the erection of an iron bridge across the road in Diss, as well as a multi-arched viaduct at Harford Bridges. Communities along the line such as Mellis, Tivetshall, Forncett, Flordon and Swainsthorpe were all served by their own stations, and the line originally terminated at the Norwich Victoria station, a building adapted from its forerunner the New Adelphi Theatre. 

The constituent railway companies and their lines were amalgamated into Greater Eastern Railway in 1862. As a result, Norwich Victoria was closed in 1916 and the trains diverted into Thorpe Station. The post war period of nationalisation also saw the closure in 1966 of a number of the small stations, including Flordon, Forncett, Tivetshall, and Burston. In the 1980s the closure of the British Rail coal depot at Queen’s Road also saw the final closure of the now defunct Victoria Station, the site of which is now occupied by Sainsbury’s.

Ruth Fillery-Travis (NLA), 5 February 2007.


Further Reading

GENUKI, 2006. ‘Norfolk: Tivetshall St Margaret’. Available: Accessed: 5 February 2007

Knott, S., March 2006. ‘St Margaret, Tivetshall St Margaret’. Available: Accessed: 5 February 2007

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

Southall, H., 2006. ‘A Vision of Britain Through Time: A Vision of Tivetshall St Margaret AP/CP’. Available: Accessed: 5 February 2007

Norfolk County Council logo Heritage Lottery Fund logo

Powered by HBSMR-web and the HBSMR Gateway from exeGesIS SDM Ltd, and mojoPortal CMS
© 2007 - 2021 Norfolk Historic Environment Service