Parish Summary: Raveningham

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 Raveningham is situated in the southeast of Norfolk, 3km from the border with Suffolk, and 13.5km west from Lowestoft. The name ‘Raveningham’ is thought to derive from the Old English for homestead of Hraefn’s people. The parish contains the village of Raveningham, and a small number of wooded areas to the north and around the village. 

Raveningham is not a large parish, and there have only been a small number of objects recovered from this area. Unfortunately, there have been no recorded objects from any of the prehistoric periods, however two possible Bronze Age ring ditches have been identified. One is situated to the north of the parish (NHER 17675) near the western edge of Craft Plantation, and the other (NHER 32911) on the very eastern border of the parish, north of Peddar’s Lane. 

Despite being a largely agricultural area, very little metal detecting activity has occurred in the parish. This is usually one of the primary sources for objects from all periods, and is particularly important for those periods, such as the Iron Age or Saxon periods, where few buildings survive. Despite this, a small amount of metal detecting did occur in the 1980s and 2004, and as a result two Roman coins (NHER 23993, NHER 40784) are our earliest finds. 

No monuments have been recorded from the Roman or Saxon periods, although there has been a single Late Saxon copper animal-head tag (NHER 23993) recovered from an area close to Eight Acres. However, despite this lack of evidence the parish is mentioned several times in the Domesday Book of 1086, under a number of land-holders, and there is even mention of a church in the parish. Unfortunately there does not appear to be any sign of this building surviving, as the present day parish church of St Andrew’s (NHER 10540) is entirely medieval in date. 

Set within the grounds of Raveningham Hall (NHER 10534), seat of the Bacon family, the earliest part of St Andrew’s (NHER 10540) is the 12th century round tower, which has a 13th century octagonal belfry topped with 15th century battlements. The chancel is 14th century and the nave 15th century, as is the south porch. On the south side of the chancel there is a large early 14th century recess lavishly sculpted with foliage, in which similar arches frame memorials to the Bacon family, and this style acts as the theme for the rest of the chancel. 

An earthwork survey of 'Mill Mount', Raveningham.

An earthwork survey of 'Mill Mount', Raveningham.

Unfortunately there are no other surviving medieval buildings in this area, though there are a number of sites of medieval earthworks in locations across the parish, including one north of College Farm (NHER 10706), an almost complete one encircling Hall Farm (NHER 10535), and one just south (NHER 11840). There is also a probable medieval castle mound northeast of Stockton Farm (NHER 11915) and a hollow way and ridge and furrow marks (NHER 29790) inside the boundaries of Raveningham Park (NHER 30484). 

Raveningham Park (NHER 30484) itself is a post medieval park with a number of 18th century gardens and some early 20th century Arts and Crafts style gardens by Somers Clark. It also contains two of the above-mentioned medieval features (NHER 10535, NHER 29790), as well as some mounds and banks. However there is no record of a medieval period house on this site, and Raveningham Hall (NHER 10534) itself was built in the 18th century. 

English Heritage has also identified a number of other post medieval buildings as of architectural value. These includes Castell Farm (NHER 13144), a 16th century half-timbered building with a 17th century wing, that was built by the Castell family who owned the Raveningham manor from 1225 until it passed to the Bacon family in 1735, who built Raveningham Hall. 

Also of interest are Brundish Farm barn (NHER 25616), a 16th century timber-framed barn, and Grove Farm (NHER 25617), a 16th and 17th century timber-framed house with a nearby 17th and 18th century red brick barn. A small number of objects have also survived from the medieval and post medieval periods. These are limited, but include a medieval silver coin (NHER 13145), a post medieval belt mount and button (NHER 40784), and an inscribed lead seal (NHER 16560).

There are also a number of monuments from more recent periods of history. The parish retains a number of spigot mortar bases (NHER 34346, NHER 34347, NHER 34348) that formed part of an important World War Two defensive perimeter to the north of Raveningham Hall. A type 22 pillbox also survives in the west of the parish, and it seems to have been associated with a possible searchlight battery that is noted on aerial photographs from 1945. 

Ruth Fillery-Travis (NLA), 5 March 2007. 

 

Further Reading

Morris, J. (General Editor), 1984. Domesday Book, 33 Norfolk, Part I and Part II (Chichester, Phillimore & Co).

Pevsner, N., 1997. The buildings of England: Norfolk 2: Northwest and South (London, Penguin Books)

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

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