Parish Summary: Long Stratton

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

Long Stratton is a long thin parish in the south of the county, and the busy A140, also known as the Pye Road (NHER 7947), runs through the length of the parish. The town of Long Stratton straddles the road, which dates back to the Roman period. Indeed the name of Long Stratton is derived from the Old English meaning ‘farmstead or village on a Roman road’. On either side of the town there are small groups of farms and buildings grouped around the edges of former greens, such as Wood Green, and in the small hamlet of Stratton St Michael. The modern civil parish includes the two ecclesiastical parishes of Stratton St Michael and Stratton St Mary.

The earliest archaeological finds from the parish include prehistoric pot boilers (NHER 10109), prehistoric flint flakes (NHER 14860, 16110, 16111, 16112, 17182), Neolithic flint implements (NHER 10052), a Neolithic stone axehead (NHER 16111) and a polished flint axehead (NHER 34664). Three ring ditches (NHER 16838, 36355), probably the remains of Bronze Age barrows, are visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs close to the River Tas. Other Bronze Age barrows (NHER 10053) were recorded in the parish in the early 19th century. A fragment of Bronze Age pottery (NHER 17047) and a Bronze Age spear and knife (NHER 25916) have also been found in the parish.

Iron Age coins (NHER 25916, 35661), pottery (NHER 17047, 25916) and metalwork (NHER 12513), including a terret (NHER 16838) and a brooch (NHER 25916) have been found by metal detectorists. The presence of Iron Age finds in the area around the site of a later Roman settlement (NHER 39671, 44502) along the Pye Road suggests that there may have been Iron Age settlement activity in this area.

The Roman road (NHER 7947) runs between Scole and the Roman town of 'Venta Icenorum' at Caistor St Edmund. Fieldwalking and metal detecting evidence suggests that there was a substantial Roman settlement at Long Stratton, and a large number of Roman finds including pottery, coins, brooches and bracelets (NHER 12513, 25916) have been found in the area. Part of the possible settlement site was excavated by the NAU in 2003 near Wild Rose Farm (NHER 39671, 44502). The excavation revealed a ‘dark earth’ deposit that probably represented the remains of the settlement. Roman pottery, building materials and metal finds were recovered from the site, as well as evidence for metal working and possible workshops producing bone objects.

Roman pottery (NHER 10054, 10057, 10105, 12510, 12511, 14104, 14118, 16110, 17047, 17182), coins (NHER 10055, 12512, 14114, 16838, 25300, 33205, 34467, 35894, 36595, 36547) have been found scattered throughout the parish. Other Roman finds include a brooch in the shape of a pouncing lion (NHER 34468), a bracelet (NHER 14107), a silver finger ring (NHER 18273), an openwork key handle (NHER 34469) and slag from metal working (NHER 14105). A possible Roman field system (NHER 36355, 36354) is visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs close to the site of a Roman settlement in the adjacent parish of Morningthorpe (NHER 10178). In 1773 a Roman ‘hearth’ was discovered in a gravel pit (NHER 7937). Subsequent investigation on site revealed possible Roman pits containing fragments of pottery and a horse skull.

Little is known of Early and Middle Saxon settlement in the parish. Metal detecting has recovered Early Saxon brooches and a girdle hanger (NHER 16838), a wrist clasp (NHER 25467) and a Middle Saxon brooch and coins (NHER 12513). During the Late Saxon period settlement probably developed on the sites of the present villages of Long Stratton and Stratton St Michael. In 1086 the Domesday Book records Stratton St Mary and St Michael in the hands of a number of landholders, including several religious houses, Count Alan and Roger Bigot. The holdings were all relatively substantial and included a mill, woods and meadows. Metal detecting and fieldwalking have recovered a number of Late Saxon finds from the parish including a Late Saxon finger ring (NHER 12513), a stirrup strap mount (NHER 14106), a strap end (NHER 16111), a brooch (NHER 16838), an openwork mount (NHER 25691), fragments of pottery (NHER 14108, 14110, 14113, 14115, 14117, 25916) and a silver coin dating from the reign of Athelred II (NHER 24599). 

St Mary's Church has a 12th century round tower.

St Mary's Church in Long Stratton has a 12th century round tower. (© NCC)

Settlement continued to develop in the parish during the medieval period, and the edges of the many commons and greens were settled by the 13th century. St Mary’s Church (NHER 10077) has a round tower dating from the 12th century. In the early 14th century aisles were added to the building, which underwent an extensive remodelling in the 15th century when new windows were inserted and the porch was constructed. The church contains a very rare example of a 16th century sexton’s wheel, one of only two examples in the country! There is some debate as to the exact use of the wheel, but it may have been used for determining the date of the Lady Day fast. The Guild House (NHER 13233) is a complex, multi-phase building that dates back to the 14th century when it was used by two medieval guilds; the guild of SS Mary and Thomas and the guild of St John the Baptist. The east wall has been dated to the 14th century and has a pair medieval cusped niches. The timber framed south wing dates to the 17th century, when part of the guildhall was converted into a barn. Major alterations were carried out in the 18th and 19th centuries, including the subdivision of the building into three cottages. The house has a vaulted wine cellar and the entrance passage to the icehouse in the garden is accessed through the cellars. The Old Rectory (NHER 38082) is a timber framed Wealden-type house dating from the 15th century. The house has a crown-post roof and would have been a prestigious house in the medieval village. In the 17th century the rector, Thomas Carver, extended the house to the east, and his alterations included joining the previously detached kitchen to the main house. Hall Farm (NHER 10070), on the outskirts of Long Stratton, is surrounded by a medieval moat, three arms of which are still water filled. The present Hall probably dates from the 19th century but may incorporate elements of an earlier building.

St Michael’s Church (NHER 10187) dates mainly to the 14th century and has a low west tower with a wooden bellcote. The church contains a 15th century font and 15th century poppy head bench ends. The site of St Peter’s Church (NHER 10180) is now marked by very slight earthworks. The church was united with St Michael’s during the reign of Henry VII and the building was demolished in 1520. The earthworks of a series of medieval enclosures (NHER 33332) have been recorded in a field close to the site of the church.

The village of Stratton St Michael has shrunk considerably, but earthworks relating to the medieval village have been surveyed around the church. These include medieval tofts (NHER 14107, 14118), a hollow way (NHER 14118), and the site of Sayes Manor (NHER 14583). The manor house was demolished in the late 16th century, and the earthworks of a medieval building platform, a causeway and a ditched boundary survive on the site. To the south of the village is the cropmark of a rectangular enclosure (NHER 14116). The feature may date to the medieval period, and fragments of medieval and post medieval pottery have been found on the site. Close to this enclosure is the possible site of Rhees or Rheez Manor (NHER 14117), which is mentioned in medieval documents dating from the 13th century. The site of the medieval manor of Welhams (NHER 16608) has been revealed through fieldwalking and documentary research. The manor dates back to the Late Saxon period, and fragments of medieval pottery have been found on the site. A field to the west of Stratton St Michael was the subject of an archaeological evaluation by the NAU in 2003 (NHER 39671, 44503). The excavation focused on a medieval hollow way, and revealed a series of small gullies and pits dating from the 11th to the 14th centuries.

A medieval moat (NHER 13129) has been recorded near Wood Green. The moat is shown as waterfilled on the Tithe Map of 1839, but it now survives as an earthwork. The moat may be the manorial site of Sturmyn’s Manor, which is mentioned in 14th century documents. Fieldwalking has recovered two concentrations of medieval pottery from a large ditched enclosure (NHER 17179) to the north of Wood Green, suggesting that this was an area of common-edge settlement in the medieval period.

Faden’s map of 1797 shows a large green known as Cow Green in the south of the parish. Part of this green still survives, and there is archaeological evidence to suggest that the edge of the green was settled during the medieval period. The remains of a possible medieval building (NHER 10067) were ploughed up on the edge of the green in the 1960s. A concentration of 12th to 14th century pottery has been found at the site. A possible medieval moat (NHER 21725) is visible as a cropmark on aerial photographs close to the green, and the earthworks of a possible medieval moated site (NHER 36819) were recorded close to Lime Tree Farm. The earthworks have now been destroyed by ploughing, but medieval and post medieval pottery has been found on the site.

Long Stratton has a wealth of interesting post medieval buildings, many of which are timber framed.  Walnut Tree Cottage (formerly known as Lower Cottages) (NHER 24441) dates to the early 16th century and may be the parlour end of a much larger hall house. The Thatched House (NHER 14698) on Church Lane is timber framed and thatched and probably dates back to the 16th century. It may originally have been a hall house, with upper floors and chimney stacks inserted in the 17th century. In 1996 the NAU carried out a watching brief as the house was being underpinned but no evidence of an earlier structure was found. Church Farmhouse (NHER 44413) is a 16th century timber framed farmhouse with an original wooden mullioned window. Woodgreen Cottage (NHER 20932) is a 17th century timber framed cottage that may originally have been built as an almshouse. The cottage was converted into a workhouse in 1723, and was sold in 1850 when it reverted to residential use.

The parish contains many timber framed buildings that date from between the 16th and the 18th century, including the Ashford and Grimbles General Store (NHER 15333), Thatched Cottage (NHER 15334), the Old Manor House (NHER 15336), Wild Rose Farmhouse (NHER 15337), Barclays Bank (NHER 44392), The Angel Inn (NHER 39792), Willow Cottage (NHER 36319), the Cedars (NHER 39779), the Queen’s Head (NHER 44376), Corfe Lodge (NHER 44379), Well Meadow Cottage (NHER 44382), Corfe Cottage (NHER 44384), Merrison’s Grocers (NHER 44386), the Antique Shop, Jubilee House and the Norfolk Craft Shop (NHER 44395), the Swan Inn (NHER 44396), Poplars Farmhouse (NHER 44402), The Thatch (NHER 44407) and D.S. Warnes and Co. (NHER 44410). A windmill and watermill (NHER 15554) are marked close to Mill Farm on historic maps dating back to the 17th century. The timber framed millhouse that still stands on the site dates to the 17th century.  

Photograph of Long Stratton windmill, a late 18th century brick tower mill.

Long Stratton windmill, a late 18th century brick tower mill. (© NCC)

Cherry Tree Farmhouse (NHER 44383) is an early 18th century house built of clay lump with a central brick chimney stack. Lime Tree Farmhouse (NHER 44398) is also an 18th century clay lump house with the addition of a later brick wing. Belvedere Stores (NHER 44405) is an early 18th century clay lump cottage with modern shop windows. Holly Tree House (NHER 41223) is an early 19th century stuccoed house, with an early 19th century coffin maker’s workshop to the rear! The Wesleyan Chapel (NHER 44388) dates to 1830 and has a pedimented brick façade with a central round headed doorway. The Old Court House (NHER 40091) is a 19th century and earlier brick building. Flint House (NHER 42613) is a mid 19th century flint and brick church school that has now been converted into a house. A 19th century red brick icehouse (NHER 7938) now stands close to a modern shopping precinct. It originally served the manor house that was demolished after World War One. Bryant’s map of 1826 shows both a post mill and a tower mill on the site of Long Stratton Mills (NHER 3993). The post mill was demolished in the 1870s and the tower mill, which is still standing, continued in use until the late 1920s. Bryant also depicts a post medieval smock mill (NHER 16011) at Mill Yard. The mill was last used in about 1900.

During the Cold War a Royal Observer Corps post (NHER 35390) was established in the parish. The post closed in 1968 and no traces of the structure survive on the site. The police station (NHER 42750) on Ipswich Road was demolished in 2004. The station was constructed in the 1960s and was built of concrete sections that formed a cube with recessed windows.

Sarah Spooner (NLA), 13 June 2006.

 

Further Reading

Addington, S., 1982. 'Landscape and Settlements in South Norfolk', Norfolk Archaeology Vol 38, part 2)

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

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

Norfolk Federation of Women’s Institutes, 1990. The Norfolk Village Book (Newbury, Countryside Books)

Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B., 1997. The Buildings of England: Norfolk 2: North West and South (London: Penguin)

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

Town, M., 2003. An Archaeological Evaluation at A140 Long Stratton Bypass, Norfolk (NAU Report No. 872)

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