Parish Summary: Newton Flotman

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

Newton Flotman is in the South Norfolk district. It is located south of Mulbarton and north of Tasburgh. The River Tas runs along the parish boundary between Newton Flotman, Saxlingham Nethergate and Tasburgh. The double name of the village derives from Old English. Newton is translated as ‘new town’. Flotman means’ ferryman’. When the Tas was wider a ferryman was required to transport passengers across it. Therefore the new town with a ferryman was known as Newton Flotman. Flotman is also known as a personal name in the Domesday Book – presumably the person’s name derived from his occupation.

The earliest recorded objects in the database are two Neolithic flint axeheads (NHER 10085 and 10086). A Beaker period flint dagger (NHER 10087) was found in 1943. A prehistoric flint scraper (NHER 17048) has also been recorded. Metal detecting has recovered part of a Middle to Late Bronze Age copper alloy rapier (NHER 32289) and a fragment of a Late Bronze Age socketed copper alloy axehead (NHER 31048). Iron Age coins (NHER 32311) have also been found by a metal detectorist. An Iron Age or Roman terret (NHER 32289) has been recorded.

Several Roman finds have been recovered. A Roman finger ring (NHER 36651) covered with a white metal, either silver or tin, has been noted. A metal detectorist found a Roman copper alloy figurine of a ram (NHER 40445). More common finds include coins (NHER 28682, 31419 and 31832), brooches (NHER 28989, 31831 and 32289) and pieces of pot (NHER 32311, 35305 and 39310).

Metal detecting has recovered a variety of Saxon finds. These include an Early Saxon wrist clasp and an Early Saxon disc brooch (NHER 28682), parts of two Early Saxon cruciform brooches (NHER 29710) and a beautiful and unusual 5th century bow brooch (NHER 34676). Middle Saxon finds include a pin and parts of a brooch (NHER 28989). Pieces of Middle Saxon pot (NHER 10088) have also been found. A Late Saxon stirrup and a strap-end (NHER 28989), a relief decorated openwork strap-end (NHER 32278) and a bridle cheek piece depicting the head of small animal with open jaws (NHER 32311) have been found by metal detectorists. Pieces of Late Saxon pot (NHER 16034) have been also been recorded.

In the Domesday Book written in 1086 the land at Newton Flotman is listed alongside adjoining Flordon. The book is a statistical survey of the population and productive resources of England. In Flordon and Newton Flotman it records 15 acres of the lordship of Hethel and the presence of a mill and a plough owned by Roger Bigot. Other parts of the parishes were owned by Tovi including a plough and three acres of meadow. This documentary evidence demonstrates that the village was settled by this time despite the lack of archaeological evidence for settlement in the Saxon period. 

The Waterside Inn. Timber framed building dating to about 1500.

The Waterside Inn is a timber framed building that dates back to about 1500. (© NCC)

One of the earliest structures to survive is Newton Flotman bridge (NHER 5780). This is a medieval stone bridge. It was extended and widened in brick in 1838. The bridge was further altered in 1976 when constructional details were revealed. St Mary’s Church (NHER 10119) mostly dates to the 15th century but excavations here revealed a number of graves including one below the foundations of the north wall. This suggests there was an earlier church on the same site. A second church in the parish in Church Wood has been identified (NHER 10088). Mortared flints from this church were recorded in the 19th century and a pile of flints and a possible house platform were identified in 1978. Surprisingly several other medieval buildings still survive. West Dairy Farm (NHER 17238) was built as a later medieval crownpost hall. The hall was presumably connected with the adjacent medieval moated site (NHER 25678), and the barn. The barn is a 15th century timber framed building on a brick plinth with a double queen post roof. Medieval barns of such good quality are rare and are normally related to ecclesiastical or monastic institutions.

Part of a medieval horse harness pendant (NHER 28682) has been found by a metal detectorist. A medieval gilded copper alloy animal headed terminal and a medieval lead bird feeder (NHER 28989) were found at another site. An unusual late medieval iron knife (NHER 31801) has also been found. Metal detecting recovered part of a medieval seal matrix (NHER 34677). Part of the inscription is still legible and may read 'Seal of Mar)ia of Biv..'. More common finds include coins (NHER 10089, 17048 and 39310) and pieces of pot (NHER 31831, 32289 and 32311).

Several post medieval buildings have been recorded. The mock-Tudor façade of the Waterside Inn (NHER 7620) covers a rendered timber framed structure built around 1500. The façade includes a painted wooden figure of an obscene wild man called 'Old John', astride a barrel and carrying a load on his shoulder. Long Barn (NHER 35655) is an unusual timber framed barn that possibly dates to the late 16th century, or early 17th century. One end was reconstructed in the 19th century. The barn has now been converted into a house.

A watermill is marked at the site of Saxlingham Mill (NHER 10122) on Ogilvies's road map of 1675 and Faden's map of Norfolk published in 1797. There is evidence for at least three different mill buildings here. A photograph taken in the 1920s shows a four bay brick mill that was destroyed in the 1960s. A house built around 1800 and still standing on the site may have been a watermill. The present mill was built around 1900 and was used to grind flour until 1991.

Shotesham Park (NHER 30523) and Rainworth Park (NHER 30483) both extend into parts of the parish. Shotesham Park (NHER 30523) was laid out in the 1780s on the site of previously open fields. It was expanded twice in the 19th century. Rainworth Park (NHER 30483) includes terraces, a ha ha, a pond and a kitchen garden. Although the majority of the park dates to the late 19th century some earlier elements survive including a possible 16th century garden and 17th century walls.

The sites of two post medieval industrial sites have been recorded. Two buried kilns at the site of Lacey and Lincoln’s brickworks (NHER 10123) produced white bricks in the first half of the 20th century.  The brickworks closed down around 1940. The sites of three kilns (NHER 16690) were recorded in 1964 but they have now been buried.

Megan Dennis (NLA), 1 August 2006.

 

Further reading

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

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

Neville, J., 2004 ‘Norfolk Mills – Saxlingham Thorpe Mill’. Available:

http://www.norfolkmills.co.uk/Watermills/saxlingham-thorpe.html. Accessed: 1 August 2006

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

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