Parish Summary: Colby with Banningham

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

Colby with Banningham started life as two separate parishes that have now been joined. The parish is a short distance northeast from Aylsham and south of Gunton Park in northeast Norfolk. Both villages are mentioned in the Domesday Book. Colby’s name is translated from Old Norse as ‘farmstead or village of a man called Koli’ and Banningham is Old English and is thought to mean ‘village of the family of a man called Banna’.

The earliest evidence for activity in the parish is a Palaeolithic handaxe (NHER 21122) that was found on the surface of the field. A possible Mesolithic blade and core (NHER 28247) has also been recovered and four Neolithic axes (NHER 7526, 7527, 24656 and 28248) have been found in the parish along with an Early Neolithic leaf arrowhead (NHER 36792). The earliest monument found is a probable Bronze Age barrow (NHER 25275).

Roman pottery and metal finds have been found in the area. These include a complete Roman pot (NHER 6812) that was found on Colby Common in 1814 or 1815 and used as a bucket for carrying water until it broke.  Two Roman coins (NHER 33823 and 33824) have been found and a Roman brooch, coin and finger ring (NHER 36552) but there is no clear evidence of Roman settlement in the area. A Late Saxon stirrup mount (NHER 36792) is the only Saxon find from the parish although this doesn’t necessarily mean there were low levels of activity, only that not much Saxon archaeology has been recorded in the area. 

Photograph of the restoration of St Botolph's Church in 1985.

Restoration of St Botolph's Church in 1985. (© NCC)

Both St Giles’ church, Colby (NHER 6821) and St Botolph’s, Banningham (NHER 7564) are medieval in origin. St Giles’ was built around 1300 and was extended in the 15th century. There is a medieval stone cross in the churchyard. St Botolph’s is slightly earlier although both were rebuilt in the 15th century in Perpendicular style. An unusual wall painting of St George and the dragon is preserved at St Botolph’s. A medieval hollow way (NHER 29500) that is marked on an old map can be seen on an aerial photograph running alongside the common. Other medieval finds include a scatter of medieval pottery (NHER 36792) and some interesting metal finds including a medieval horse harness pendant (NHER 36792) with black enamel and gilding belonging to Robert de Ufford of Suffolk and a gold quarter noble (NHER 33824).

Several grand houses dominated the post medieval landscape. Banningham Hall (NHER 31291) was built around 1820 whilst The Old Manor House (NHER 12865) was built around 1700. Colby Hall (NHER 17731) dates to the late 17th century. A post medieval watermill (NHER 7562) is marked on old maps and a windmill (NHER 15424) was located just south of Mill Road.

During World War Two there was probably a gun emplacement and searchlights (NHER 34408) close to Long Lane in Colby. This can be seen on an aerial photograph taken of the area in the 1940s.

Megan Dennis (NLA), 14th September 2005.


Further Reading

Brown, P. (ed.), 1984. Domesday Book, 33 Norfolk, Part I and Part II (Chichester, Philimore)

Colby with Banningham Parish Council, 2005. ‘Colby with Banningham Parish Council’. Available: Accessed 6 February 2006.

Knott, S., 2005. ‘St Giles Colby’. Available: Accessed 6 February 2006.

Marshall, A, 2005. ‘Medieval painting of St George and the Dragon, Banningham, Norfolk’. Available: Accessed 6 February 2006.

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

Rye, J., 2000. A Popular Guide to Norfolk Place-names (Dereham,The Larks Press)

Smith, L., 2003. ‘Roll of Honour – Norfolk – Colby’. Available: Accessed 6 February 2006.

The Straw Museum, 2005. ‘The Straw Museum North Norfolk’. Available: Accessed 6 February 2006.



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