Parish Summary: Gimingham

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 parish of Gimingham is located in northeast Norfolk, southwest of Cromer. The modern long linear village of Gimingham is situated in the centre of the parish. There are a number of isolated farms and houses. A caravan park is sited on the cliff top. A large number of sites have been identified on aerial photographs by the Norfolk National Mapping Programme. A number of site visits have been carried out, there has been some metal detecting and a few stray finds have been reported.

The earliest finds recorded are Neolithic. They include polished flint and stone axeheads and a flaked flint axehead. In the east of the parish two ring ditches or enclosures have been identified on aerial photographs. One (NHER 39064) could be a Neolithic oval barrow, although it may be an undated stock enclosure. The other (NHER 12805) could be a Neolithic roundhouse. Alternatively it may be the remains of a Bronze Age barrow, a Bronze Age to Roman enclosure or round house, a ditch that surrounded a medieval post mill or an undated sheep fold or pound.

Bronze Age objects include part of a copper alloy spear head and a stone wrist guard (NHER 42535). In the southeast of the parish is an undated ring ditch may be a ploughed flat Bronze Age barrow (NHER 12804). In the south of the parish one or two boundaries formed by multiple parallel ditches (NHER 31746) are visible on aerial photographs. Although the date of these is not known, similar features in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire are thought to date to the Late Bronze Age or Iron Age and have been interpreted as estate or territorial boundaries.

In the south, north, centre and east of the parish a number of field systems (see NHER 38896, 38961, 38933, 39065, 39100 and 39102) have been identified on aerial photographs. Some of the field system cropmarks are on the same alignment as the possible Late Bronze Age or Iron Age boundaries. This could mean that the cropmarks are of comparable date to the boundaries. Another possibility is that they were laid out in reference to the boundaries, possibly during the Iron Age or the Roman period. A number of enclosures located within the field systems (NHER 39018, 39019 and 39020) may also be Iron Age or Roman. On the other hand, they could be the remains of Bronze Age round barrows or products of modern agricultural activity.

In the north of the parish a ditch that could be part of an Iron Age or Roman enclosure (NHER 12162) has been identified on aerial photographs. Roman pottery recovered nearby (NHER 36173 and 38146) may support the Roman interpretation. Roman pottery has been found elsewhere at sites in the centre and south of the parish and two brooches have been reported. An Early Saxon brooch and an 8th or 9th century silver pin (NHER 35716) have been found close to Gimingham village, as haves Late Saxon pottery and metalwork. Medieval and post medieval finds have been found at sites in the centre and south of the parish.

Gimingham was called ‘Gimingeham’ in the Domesday Book of 1086. This is an Old English name meaning ‘homestead of the family of follower’s of Gymi or Gymma’. In 1086 land in the parish was held by William of Warenne as part of a manor that it included land in Sidestrand and Knapton. Slaves, ploughs, woodland, pigs, meadows, mills, horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and a church were recorded. 

Photograph of All Saints' Church, Gimingham, a medieval church with later additions and alteration

All Saints' Church, Gimingham, a medieval church with later additions and alteration. (© NCC.)

The church recorded may have stood in the centre of the modern village on the site of All Saints’ Church (NHER 6808). The nave and chancel are 14th century and the tower and south porch were built during the 15th and 16th centuries. During the 19th century and in 1924 the church was restored and repaired. The 15th century bell frame was restored during the late 1980s.

A medieval hall (NHER 13142) owned by the Duchy of Lancaster is believed to have been located in the south of the village. Gimingham Hall now stands close to the site. It is a 17th or early 18th century house with later additions, alterations and extensions. In the north of the parish the flint and brick remains of Rookery Farm (NHER 13453) survive amongst modern barns. They were part of a large late 16th to mid 18th century house that was demolished in the 1930s or 1940s. Cavities in the walls were seen during the demolition and these may have been hiding places for smugglers or priest holes. Other post medieval houses in the parish include the 17th century John  of Gaunt’s House and late 18th century Grove Farmhouse.

A number of the field systems recorded in the parish (for example NHER 38933, 39065, 39100 and 39102) include elements that fit neatly into field systems shown on 19th century maps and are probably post medieval in date.

In the east of the parish a water meadow (NHER 38965) of probable post medieval date is visible as earthworks and soilmarks on aerial photographs.

In 1805 a workhouse (NHER 15848) was built in the south of the parish to serve nine parishes. In 1834 it became a workhouse for the Erpingham Union, before being converted into fourteen cottages in 1850. It has since been demolished. Mundesley Hospital (NHER 34342) was built in the east of the parish in 1898/1899. It was the first large tuberculosis sanatorium to be constructed in Britain.

An 18th century watermill (NHER 6807) stood in the centre of the village until 1980 when it was demolished following a fire. It was powered by water from a long mill pond. Drainage ditches to the north of the mill pond (NHER 38966) might be associated features. A post mill to the north of the village is marked on Faden's map of 1797 and a post medieval wheelwright's oven survives in the garden to the south of the village.

During the late 19th and early 20th century a railway (NHER 13585) was constructed from East Runton to North Walsham. This passed through the north of the parish and some of the embankments survive. To the north of the route of the railway is a brick and concrete reservoir (NHER 17521) that was constructed before 1907.

During World War Two a series of coastal defences were established in the parish. Close to the cliff top were three military installations (NHER 38970, 39118 and 39147). After the end of the war they were almost completed demolished and dismantled. Most of the features that were left have now been lost to cliff erosion. One pillbox (probably part of NHER 39118 and possibly recorded as both NHER 15383 and 41582) survives as a ruin part way down the cliff face. There is a pillbox (NHER 15115) in a field to the south of the B1159 coast road and the site of a possible pillbox (NHER 39069) has been recorded close to the eastern parish boundary. To the east of the village a group of three World War Two circular earthworks (NHER 34407) are visible on aerial photographs.

David Robertson (NLA), 25 January 2006.

 

Further Reading

Brown, P. (ed.), 1984. Domesday Book: Norfolk (Chichester, Phillimore)

Mills, A.D., 1998. Dictionary of English Place-Names (Oxford, Oxford University Press)

Neville, J., 2003. 'Gimingham Mill'. Available:

http://www.norfolkmills.co.uk/Watermills/gimingham.html. Accessed: 25 January 2006.

Neville, J. 2005. 'Gimingham postmill'. Available:

http://www.norfolkmills.co.uk/Windmills/gimingham-postmill.html. Accessed: 25 January 2006.

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

Smith, J., 2001. ‘The village of Gimingham’, Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society 7, pp 44-52

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