Parish Summary: North Tuddenham

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

The central Norfolk  parish of North Tuddenham sits between East Dereham to the west and Hockering to the east, to the northwest of Norwich. Tuddenham comes from the Old English for ‘Tudda’s homestead’. People have lived in the area for a long time, and the parish was certainly well established by the time of the Norman Conquest, its population, land ownership and productive resources being comprehensively detailed in the Domesday Book of 1086. 

Drawing of a Palaeolithic flint handaxe found in North Tuddenham.

A Palaeolithic flint handaxe found in North Tuddenham (© NCC) 

The earliest evidence of human activity comes in the form prehistoric flint tools, the oldest of which is a Palaeolithic handaxe (NHER 22638). A single Mesolithic flint axe has also been found, as have a number of Neolithic objects, including a polished axehead (NHER 33797), spearheads (NHER 3065), arrowheads (NHER 14445), scrapers and flakes (NHER 21657) and a flint saw (NHER 16415). It should be emphasised at this stage that the parish has been well explored in terms of fieldwalking and metal detecting, and for the purposes of this summary only selected examples of finds and monuments will be given. Those wishing to dig a little deeper should consult the detailed records.

Whilst no Bronze Age structures have yet been located, quite a number of finds of the period have been found. These include two hoards of copper alloy objects (NHER 16592 and 36081) parts of a rapier (NHER 22639),  and an axehead  (NHER 22180). At one site (NHER 35696), a spearhead, a razor, a palstave and an axehead were found.

The Iron Age has left  the earliest traces of a structure at NHER 28341. Part of the eaves drip gully of an Iron Age round house was exposed during work on the North Tuddenham bypass in 1991. Also found were Iron Age pottery fragments and a scatter of burnt flints.  Pottery fragments have also been found at NHER 21451 and 25684.

There are no traces of Roman structures, but objects recovered include coins (NHER 7298, 17134 and 19304), pottery fragments (NHER 7303, 14711, 16035, 17720 and 17721), a quern (NHER 17719) and a brooch (NHER 20466). Saxon finds include pottery fragments (NHER 7303, 14711 and 16035), a brooch (NHER 35696), tweezers (NHER 19307), a harness mount (NHER 22638) and part of a stirrup (NHER 22640).

The medieval period has left the parish with its oldest surviving building, St Mary’s Church (NHER 7313). This handsome and imposing church stands away from its village, with only the rectory for company. The building consists of a 14th century pinnacled and battlemented west tower with chequered flushwork on its buttresses, an exceptionally wide aisleless nave, a two storey north porch and a chancel. The church was the subject of enthusiastic Victorian restoration, and much of the stained glass is from then (although there is also some fine medieval glass), as are the vividly patterned tiles that cover the inside wall to a height of six feet or more. Above these, rising to the roof, is elaborate stencilling. The octagonal font is 15th century, as is the chancel screen, which has eight surviving paintings of saints. A rather nice traceried piscina in the southeast corner of the nave is of the same date. Four reset late medieval painted panels in the tower screen are of uncertain provenance. In the chancel is a tomb chest to Katherine Skippe, who died in 1629.

Other medieval buildings have not survived but have left the footprint of their surrounding moat. At NHER 3058 is the site of medieval Belhouse Hall, a multi-moated manor. Nothing remains of the building, but some of the moats are visible. Metal detecting on the site in 2000 recovered a medieval buckle and an enamelled pendant with traces of gilding. Other moated sites have been noted at NHER 3066, 17133 and 19157.

Medieval finds include pottery fragments (NHER 7303, 14711, 15175 and 15973), coins (NHER 7303, 16439 and 16592), buckles (NHER 16439 and 16592), a jetton (NHER 16593) and a strap fitting (NHER 16592).

Of the post medieval buildings still standing, probably the oldest is Old Lane House on Low Street (NHER 20584). This is a 17th century two storey rendered timber framed former rectory, now a private house. The windows are mainly modern, as is the porch, and modern extensions were added during a sympathetic late 20th century restoration.

Low Road Farm Cottage (NHER 18246), now Oakwell Cottage is a pair of semi-detached cottages sharing a central chimney. The oldest part of the building is the rear wall, which dates to about 1700. The remainder is from about 1780, with an extension of about 1920 and other modern extensions. There is a good bread oven to the north side of the fireplace inside. An underground World War Two air raid shelter stands to the east of the building (which is near to a decoy airfield NHER 15019, see below).

At NHER 13277 is the site of a post mill, marked on early 19th century maps. The base of the mill survives, and is now used as a chicken house. At NHER 15234 is the site of another windmill, marked on 18th century maps, but nothing remains today.

During World War Two the parish was home to a decoy airfield (NHER 15019) for the aerodrome at Swanton Morley. This was a 'K' site with flarepaths and plywood planes. The dummy runway and a searchlight battery can be seen on aerial photographs taken in the 1940s. Some buildings survived until around 1970. It was bombed several times. and fieldwalking has recovered debris from a B24 bomber that crashed here on 21 April 1944.

Piet Aldridge (NLA), 27 October 2006.


Further Reading

Brown, P. (Ed), 1984. Domesday Book: Norfolk (Chichester, Phillimore & Co)

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

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