Parish Summary: Stody

This Parish Summary is very much an overview of the large quantity 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

The civil parish of Stody is situated in north Norfolk, south of the larger parish of Holt. Its name comes from the Old English for ‘horses’ enclosure’. There has been a human presence in the area for a long time, and settlement was certainly well established by the time of the Norman Conquest, the parish’s population, land ownership and productive resources being detailed in the Domesday Book of 1086.

Drawing of a Bronze Age axehead from Stody.

A Bronze Age axehead from Stody. (© NCC)

The earliest evidence of occupation comes in the form of prehistoric but otherwise undateable worked flint tools (NHER 29721 and 40645). There are so far no Palaeolithic or Mesolithic finds, although some of the flints from NHER 29721 may date to the latter period. The earliest objects to which a definite date can be given are Neolithic, consisting of polished flint axeheads (NHER 6496 and 14183), an arrowhead (NHER 36685) and other flint tools (NHER 6494 and 29721). Bronze Age finds to date are copper alloy axeheads (NHER 6497, 6498, 29721 and 35016), a dagger blade (NHER 35016) and a spearhead (NHER 11466). There are currently no Iron Age finds.

No evidence of Roman structures has so far been discovered, but finds from the period include coins (NHER 6499, 29721 and 50024), brooches (NHER 29721, 44045 and 50024), pottery fragments and a pin (NHER 29721). Saxon objects recovered are a stirrup strap mount, pottery fragments and a brooch (NHER 29721), coins (NHER 50024) and a bone pin beater (NHER 21245). 

St Mary’s Church (NHER 6528), probably with Saxon origins, consists of a round west tower, a nave and chancel in one, north and south transepts and a south porch. The top of the tower and the chancel date to the early 14th century. The nave windows, transepts, porch and the fine overall roof are all 15th century. Inside is a 13th century octagonal font in Purbeck marble, interesting floor tombs and some 15th century stained glass figures.

St Lawrence’s Church, Hunworth (NHER 6529) has a 12th century west tower, somewhat disguised by later diagonal buttresses. The nave south wall has a small Late Saxon window, revealed during restoration in 1960, now blocked with modern tiles. On the north side are a doorway and window of about 1300. The south porch and south lady chapel off the nave are 15th century, the chapel having large windows and a piscina. The chancel is a rebuild of 1850 and fits well with the rest of the church. Inside is an octagonal font and a black marble monument of 1726 to Edmund Britliffe and his wife.

Other medieval structures have not survived, but have left a footprint of their prior existence. Castle Hill Ringwork (NHER 1059) in Hunworth is an almost circular enclosure with a single bank and ditch, sitting on a knoll above the Glaven valley. Small scale excavations have not succeeded in dating the site, but it is probably a Norman ringwork. The site was covered in conifers but has now been cleared for grazing. South of Brinton Road, earthwork enclosures (NHER 6515) visible on the ground and from aerial photographs are probably platforms and ditches where medieval houses stood. Medieval to post medieval pottery fragments have been recovered from the area and flint and mortar foundations have been exposed by agriculture.

Quite a number of medieval objects have been recovered, including pottery fragments (NHER 6515, 6516 and 29721), coins (NHER 29721, 50024 and 50107), buckles (NHER 29721 and 50024), a horse harness pendant (NHER 29721), a buckle pin (NHER 28148) and a seal matrix (NHER 44757).

Probably the oldest of the post medieval buildings to survive is Vale House on Stody Road (NHER 22737). This is a two storey coursed flint house of about 1600, with brick dressings and a two storey gabled off-centre porch. It has massive wooden jambs to the doorway and many interesting interior features.

Dickens (NHER 35088) on the Green is a two storey flint house of 1682, the date made out in bricks, two window bays wide with an off-set doorway. The rear still has two original mullioned windows, one brick, the other wooden.

Hunworth Hall (NHER 13447) is a two storey rendered brick house of 1699, built for Edmund Britliffe. It has a façade of six window bays and a central 18th century doorcase with pilasters. On the early 18th century flint and brick barn to the north are Britliffe's initials in iron. Another barn to the north dates to about 1700 and seems to have started as a house, been converted to a stock-house, then back to a house. It has an attached stock shed. The complex also has a pair of early 19th century pig sties.

Other 17th century houses are Green Farm, Hunworth (NHER 35161), an early 17th century two storey rendered colour-washed house, L-shaped in plan, with later additions and alterations, and The Firs (NHER 47797) on King Street, a 17th to 18th century two storey colourwashed flint and brick house with a pantile roof and a central 19th century brick porch. The lofted farmyard range (NHER 47542) and barn (NHER 4781) at Kendles Farm on Brinton Road are both 18th century, as is Hunworth Watermill (NHER 6530). This is a watermill and miller's house in one. Set to the left, the mill dates to about 1760 and is two storeys high with a large weatherboarded loft projection on posts. It has two sluices over the River Glaven at the front and three at the rear. The mill is the only example in Norfolk where the power to the millstones was delivered from above. The attached two and a half storey brick Mill House is of about 1800, with much renewed detail. The two buildings have been combined and restored for residential use, and today sit in two and a half acres of pretty gardens.

Blickling House (NHER 41380), formerly Hunworth Old Rectory, is a two and three storey stately brick pile of 1849. It is a strongly asymmetrical and picturesque composition in Tudor revival style with an entrance porch of particular note and numerous clustered chimneys. One original leaded window remains. The interior has a commodious stair hall to the first floor, carved Gothic stone fireplaces and a drawing room with a high quality panelled ceiling. The walls surrounding the house (NHER 41381) are of the same date. 5 and 6 Stody Road (NHER 4771) are also mid 19th century and largely unaltered since that time.

The Midland and Great Northern Railway (north to south line) (NHER 13584), built in the 1880s, ran through the north of the parish, but this was closed in the 1960s.

P. Aldridge (NLA), 17 July 2007.


Further Reading

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

Brown, P. (Ed.) Domesday Book; Norfolk (Chichester, Phillimore & Co)

Pevsner, N. & Wilson, B., 1997. The Buildings of England: Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East (London, Penguin Books)

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