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 firstname.lastname@example.org
The parish of Brockdish is situated in the extreme south of the county, its southern limit being defined by the River Waveney, which forms the boarder with Suffolk. On the map, it is located east of the parish of Scole. The name Brockdish comes from the Old English for ‘Brook pasture’, and it was already an established settlement by the time of the Norman Conquest, the Domesday Book (1086) noting that most of the land was under the jurisdiction of Stigand prior to the Conquest.
The earliest properly dateable evidence of human activity in the Brockdish comes in the form of Neolithic flint tools, all of which were found in the eastern part of the parish. These tools include a polished axehead (NHER 1107), a flaked axehead (NHER 25663), a knife (NHER 25664) and a laurel leaf point (NHER 29610). Quite a number of worked flint flakes and concentrations of burnt flint have also been found, but these are only classifiable as prehistoric.
There are no finds or features from the Bronze Age at present, with the possible exception of a ring ditch, visible on aerial photographs (NHER 7976). Ring ditches can be the remains of Bronze Age ditched burial mounds, or round barrows, that have been flattened by later cultivation. They are invisible at ground level, but the circular surrounding ditch shows as a darker mark from the air. Care should be taken identifying these features as Bronze Age, and this particular example has also been interpreted as a backfilled pit.
A well preserved Roman kiln that was excavated in Brockdish in 1994. (©NCC)
There is currently no evidence of activity in the Iron Age, but the ensuing Roman occupation gave the parish the remains of its first structure. Excavations in 1994 revealed a well preserved Roman kiln (NHER 30591
), with a Roman coin and pottery fragments associated with it. Roman pottery fragments have also been recovered from NHER 25665 and 25667
, coins from NHER 11078, and brooches from NHER 31423
The archaeological record again becomes quiet in the Saxon period, the only finds from the time being a couple of brooches (NHER 25665 and 34854) and a lead weight (NHER 34851)
The medieval period following the Norman Conquest has left the parish with its oldest surviving buildings, the churches of St Peter and St Paul (NHER 11106), and All Saints (NHER 7961). The 11th century north wall of the nave and chancel in SS Peter and Paul is probably the oldest section of these churches, and may be even earlier. The rest of this particular church is 13th and 14th century. The west tower fell in 1713, was rebuilt, then heightened during a comprehensive restoration in the 1870s, and is now one of the best examples of Gothic Revival architecture in Norfolk. The restoration work also gave the church stained glass in every window, unusual in the county. The churchyard has some impressive memorials; inside, there is a 13th century piscina, a 15th century Purbeck marble tomb chest, and a rare 19th century tiled sanctuary.
All Saints' Church, Thorpe Abbotts. (©NCC)
All Saints church has a 13th century nave and chancel, and a 14th century round west tower, the top stage of which was added in the 15th century. A brick south porch was added in the 16th century. Inside, a 15th century font and screen can be found.
Elsewhere in the parish, medieval residential properties have disappeared but left a footprint, usually in the form of the moat that surrounded them. Thorpe Abbotts Place (NHER 7968) is the site of a moated manor, now occupied by a 19th century house, but the remains of its original moat can still be seen. On a smaller scale, at NHER 11105, the moat surrounding a homestead is still visible (and water filled), though the medieval house has vanished and is now covered by an orchard.
Buildings from the post medieval period that survive include:
Sherriff House (NHER 31520), an ornate building of about 1600, altered in the 18th century and subdivided in the 19th.
Thorpe Abbotts Hall (NHER 31833), a timber framed hall of about 1620 with a plaster covering, once thatched, now pantiled. It is surrounded by various farm buildings, including a 17th or 18th century timber framed converted granary.
Locks Pyghtle, Mill Road, a 17th century timber framed house with a thatched roof. (©NCC)
Locks Pyghtle (NHER 37544
), a 17th century timber framed thatched house.
Thorpe Hall or Hall Farmhouse (NHER 41651), an early 17th century timber framed house with 19th century alterations.
Grove Farm and Barn (NHER 11079), a 17th century timber framed building, later encased in brick, with a fine17th century staircase. Standing nearby is an early 18th century converted barn.
Brockdish Hall (NHER 11089), a hall of 1634 in the Elizabethan style, with a fine three storey porch at its west end.
The Grange (NHER 11096), a fine brick house of 1676, but built around a probably 16th century timber framed structure.
Avonside and Broom House (NHER 31519), a 17th century timber framed building, refronted in brick in the 19th century. Inside, there are ornately carved beams in some rooms, and the chimney stacks had huge fireplaces, now reduced.
Thorpe House (NHER 41324), an early 19th century house, formerly a rectory.
Kent House (NHER 40326), a 19th century house.
Post medieval industrial sites are often marked on contemporary maps, but leave no trace today. For example, two windmills were marked as being in the parish (NHER 7975 and 16402) but nothing can be seen of them, A brick kiln (NHER 16395) was marked on the 1836 OS map, but has similarly disappeared.
World War Two has also left its mark on the parish. Thorpe Abbots airfield (NHER 15169) was constructed in 1942, and used by The U.S. Army Air Force as the base for its 100th Bomber Group. After the war, the site was returned to the RAF, but was never used again, being sold off in 1956. Today, however, the control tower and several adjacent buildings have been restored as a museum and memorial to the ‘Bloody Hundredth’.
Pieter Aldridge (NLA), 17 November 2005.
Brown, P. (ed.), 1984. The Domesday Book: Norfolk (Chichester, Phillimore)
Fairhead, H., 1992. Norfolk and Suffolk Airfields (Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum)
Rye, J., 1991. A Popular Guide to Norfolk Place Names (Dereham, Larks Press)