Parish Summary: Hoveton

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 Hoveton is situated about six miles from Norwich, just east of Wroxham. Its name comes from the Old English for ‘Hofa’s enclosure’. The parish has a long history, and was certainly well established by the time of the Norman Conquest, its population, land ownership and productive resources being extensively detailed in the Domesday Book of 1086.

The earliest properly dateable evidence of human activity is a Mesolithic or Neolithic flint engraving tool (NHER 24237), but there are a number of definitely Neolithic finds, including flint scrapers (NHER 8412 and 24236), flakes (NHER 24351 and 24352), polished axeheads (NHER 25109 and 39317) and a knife (NHER 35285). Bronze Age finds are currently limited to fragments of pottery (NHER 25329) and a barbed and tanged flint arrowhead (NHER 32921). Iron Age finds are similarly sparse, consisting of a gold coin (NHER 15608) and pottery fragments (NHER 25329). The record picks up a little in the Roman period, with a fair number of coins (NHER 24350, 25329 and 28925), pottery fragments (NHER 24350 and 25329) and part of a brooch (NHER 25329), though the only Saxon finds are a couple of strap ends (NHER 25901 and 39290). 

Drawing of St John's Church, Hoveton.

St John's Church, Hoveton. 

The medieval period has left the parish with its oldest surviving building, St John’s Church (NHER 8433). This church consists of a brick west tower, nave chancel and north porch. The oldest part of the building is the nave, which was originally 11th or 12th century. The chancel was rebuilt in about 1300, with the side windows being added, the walls raised, and the roofs put on in the 15th/16th century. The present tower is square and dates to 1765. The church was restored in 1890. Inside is an octagonal 15th century font and a 16th century chancel screen. The scissored nave roof dates to the 1890 restoration, as does the seating, although three benches retain 15th century poppy head bench ends. There are also some important memorials to the Blofeld family.

Some medieval material can be seen re-used in later buildings, for example at Church Farm (NHER 20493), part of which is mid 16th century, but incorporates medieval stonework. Other medieval buildings have disappeared. A medieval hall (NHER 8298) stood on where Home Farm is today, but nothing remains of it.

Other medieval features that are still visible are the flooded peat cuttings that form part of today’s Norfolk Broads. Those within the parish are Burnt Fen Broad (NHER 44119), Hoveton Great and Little Broads (NHER 44122 and 44120), Hudson’s Bay (NHER 44125), Snape’s Water (NHER 44126) and Pond End (NHER 44130).

Medieval finds include pottery fragments (e.g. NHER 24236, 25901 and 29148), coins (NHER 24658, 25329, 35285 and 39315) and a buckle (NHER 25901).

Of the post medieval buildings to survive in the parish, North Farm House (NHER 23036) is probably the oldest. Although much altered and abutting a 20th century house, it originally dates to 1587. St Peter’s Church (NHER 8431), a thatched brick building, was built in 1624, a time when few churches were being constructed. Wroxham Bridge (NHER 8425), although now covered with a 20th century umbrella bridge, dates back to 1619.

Hoveton Old Hall (NHER 8299) on the edge of the parish, with its grand façade block of 1680, has a much altered rear wing that may have been part of an even earlier building. Hoveton House (NHER 8434), built for Thomas Blofeld, M.P. and Mayor of Norwich, also dates to about 1680, and is one of the most attractive buildings of its time in Norfolk. Its park (NHER 30513) was partly designed by Humphry Repton.

20 and 21 Horning Road (NHER 34517) and Home Farmhouse (NHER 23035) are both 17th century thatched buildings. Green Gates (NHER 34518) dates to about 1700 and Drive Cottages (NHER 43922) are mid 18th century. A well - preserved ice house in Ice Well Wood (NHER 14925) is from about 1800. Diddle’s Mill (NHER 18354), a tall disused brick windpump, has now been converted to a holiday home, but another mill (NHER 15423) at Mill Farm burnt down in the late 19th century.

The most historically recent entry on the record is Wroxham railway signal box (NHER 43923), which dates to about 1900 and controlled the junction between the Norwich to Cromer line and the branch towards Aylsham, both operated by the Great Eastern Railway.

This summary is intended very much as an overview, and those wishing to dig a little deeper should consult the detailed records.

Piet Aldridge (NLA), 30 May 2006.

 

Further Reading

Brown, P. (ed.), 1984. Domesday Book, 33 Norfolk (Chichester, Phillimore & Co) 

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

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