Parish Summary: Edgefield

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

Edgefield, from the Old English meaning ‘open land by an enclosure’, is in the northeast of the county. Settlement is loosely clustered around the village of Edgefield and the hamlet of Edgefield Street, in the south.

A prehistoric habitation site (NHER 6508) has been found in the north of the parish. A number of prehistoric burnt mounds clustered close together were excavated in the 1950s, and more mounds were discovered during a survey by English Heritage in 1999. Prehistoric pot boilers and flint implements have been found on the site (NHER 6508). A Bronze Age bowl barrows (NHER 6502) has survived as an earthwork close to the habitation site (NHER 6508). These two sites are situated in an area of former heath, shown as part of a large area of common land and a warren on Faden’s map of 1797, which perhaps accounts for their survival, whereas prehistoric settlement sites can sometimes be difficult to identify in the rest of the county. A number of prehistoric implements have been found scattered throughout the parish, including a prehistoric stone mace (NHER 6501), Neolithic flint axeheads (NHER 6533 and 6535), a Neolithic flint spearhead (NHER 6645), and prehistoric flint flakes (NHER 34499, 35861 and 39950). A pottery vessel (NHER 6534), probably dating from the Beaker period, was found in the late 19th century.

There is little evidence for Iron Age and Roman settlement, which may reflect the amount of fieldwork carried out, rather than a lack of archaeology. A single fragment of Roman pottery (NHER 6503) has been found in the north, and a number of Roman coins (NHER 33041, 35861 and 35970) have been found by metal detecting.

A Late Saxon strap fitting (NHER 30231) is the only Saxon find to be recovered. Edgefield is mentioned as a fairly substantial settlement in Domesday Book. A church is not recorded in the village, although the medieval St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church (NHER 3321) contains Late Saxon architectural details in the west tower, the only standing remains of the medieval church. 

Photograph of Old Hall, Edgefield taken from the west. the photograph shows the porch tower that was added around 1600 to an existing flint building built in the 15th or 16th century.

Old Hall, Edgefield. The prominent porch tower as added to this 15th or 16th century building around 1600. (© NCC.)

During the medieval period Edgefield was an agricultural parish, and the pattern of modern settlement suggests that it developed around a series of open commons, which have subsequently been enclosed. The ‘Little Wood’ (NHER 12883) is in the east, and medieval woodbanks and boundary ditches are visible as earthworks. In the 17th century, these banks and ditches (NHER 12883) were described as ‘already ancient’. In the west, near the parish boundary with Stody, are the earthwork remains of medieval tofts (NHER 29583), a hollow way (NHER 29583) and medieval enclosures (NHER 29584). The Old Hall (NHER 20532) dates to about 1500, with later alterations. Original wall paintings have been discovered inside the house, and there are traces of a medieval moat in the grounds. Edgefield Hall (NHER 6517) is an early 17th century manor house with a three-storey porch, surrounded by a medieval moat. A licence to crenellate was granted for the manor in 1334, and the present Hall (NHER 6517) is probably on the site of an earlier house.

Langer Farm (NHER 11526), Lowes Farm (NHER 12062), ‘Edgefield’ (NHER 39845) and the Old Parsonage House (NHER 22726) all date from the 17th century. The tithe barn (NHER 22726) close to the Old Parsonage House was used as a school in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Church Farm House (NHER 3318) dates from the early 18th century, and bears the date 1704 in reversed numbers on the gable end. Mount Cottage (NHER 3319) also dates from the early 18th century. Edgefield Mount (NHER 6536) was once thought to be a feature of some antiquity, but Faden’s map of 1797 depicts a windmill in this position. A workhouse was established in the 18th century, and a new building was constructed at Fuel, or Workhouse, Farm (NHER 3322) in the early 19th century.

In 1883 St Peter and St Paul’s Church (NHER 3321) was dismantled and rebuilt on a new site (NHER 3320), closer to the centre of the village. The architect, J. D. Sedding, reused the original medieval building material from the old church, including the 13th century font and a 15th century chancel screen (NHER 3320). 1 and 2 Holt Road (NHER 37015), a pair of semi-detached houses built in 1912, are an important example of early local authority housing.

During World War Two a defensive position (NHER 24988) was established in the north. The position may have been a searchlight battery or a gun emplacement. A spigot mortar emplacement (NHER 32454) was also constructed at a crossroads just outside the village.

Sarah Spooner (NLA), 14 November 2005.

 

Further Reading

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

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

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

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