Parish Summary: Upton with Fishley

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

Upton with Fishley is a large parish, with an area of 889 hectares, situated in the Broadland Local Government District. It contains the settlements of Upton and Fishley, and the nature reserve of Upton Broad. The parish lies on the northern boundary of Acle, and is bordered to the north by the Upton Marshes and the River Bure. The name ‘Upton’ is thought to derive from the Old English words for Higher Settlement, and the name ‘Fishley’ may stem from the Old English for fisherman’s clearing

Due to its position in Broadland this parish has been part of the Norfolk National Mapping Project which has sought to record and interpret the evidence of cropmarks, earthworks and soilmarks recorded by the aerial photographs.

It is as a result of this work that the earliest monuments in the parish are on record. The earliest of these is probably a possible prehistoric enclosure (NHER 49500). By comparison, the earliest objects are a prehistoric flake (NHER 40860) and a number of Neolithic implements (NHER 11178). A probable Bronze Age round barrow (NHER 49470) has also been recorded, though other field boundaries (NHER 49504 and 49502), enclosures and trackways (NHER 49474) may also have their beginnings in the prehistoric period. 

There have been no objects recovered from the Iron Age period, and Roman objects are limited only to Roman pottery sherds (NHER 40860) and a copper alloy vessel fragment (NHER 49901). No substantial Roman remains have been uncovered, but the cropmarks of a probable Roman small settlement, with enclosures, field boundaries and trackways (NHER 49469) have been recorded, as have other similar features (NHER 49474), and probable Roman field boundaries (NHER 49504, 49502 and 49505).

The cropmarks of a small number of Early Saxon features have also been recorded, and these are thought to represent grubenhauser (NHER 49482). A 19th century source also records the discovery of a possible Early Saxon cremation cemetery (NHER 14472), though no evidence for this has been recovered during the modern period. 

Drawing of a Late Saxon strap fitting from Upton with Fishley.

A Late Saxon strap fitting from Upton with Fishley. (© NCC and S. White.)

In addition an important Late Saxon strap fitting (NHER 29671) and a Late Saxon Winchester style strap end have been recovered (NHER 30964). Both Upton and Fishley are listed in the Domesday Book, though neither are particularly populous or valuable. Despite this Fishley is known to have had a church by the early medieval period, when St Mary’s (NHER 8520) was built. This church still has an early Norman round tower, as well as a Norman style south doorway.

St Margaret’s Church (NHER 8519) in Upton is a larger more substantial church, and although there is mention of some Norman foundations it appears to be largely 14th to 15th century in date. The tower fell in 1587, and was not rebuilt successfully until the early 20th century, but a good late 15th century dado screen survives inside.

No other medieval buildings survive, but the cropmarks of medieval to post medieval field boundaries (NHER 49483), drainage ditches (NHER 49510) and an enclosure (NHER 49471) are recorded. Also, it should also be mentioned that the current Upton Broad (NHER 13515) is thought to be the result of the extraction of peat that took place across this area of Norfolk during the medieval period. It is thought that another broad, Upton Old Broad (NHER 13521) also survived until the 20th century.

A small number of objects from the medieval period have also been recovered. These include pottery sherds (NHER 16763 and 49901), a coin (NHER 24035 and 25490) and metal objects such as a key (NHER 29671) and a gold and emerald finger ring (NHER 8508).

A number of buildings of architectural note also survive from the post medieval period, and these include the Black Mill, or Upton Drainage Mill (NHER 8603), which was built around 1800 of red brick and covered in black tar. It survives today with a number of original features, though it is no longer in use as a drainage mill.

Palmer’s Mill (NHER 15992), one of only a handful of  hollow-post drainage mills known in the UK, also survives. The sites of two other mills are also recorded (NHER 8606 and 37153). Very few other buildings have been recorded, but Primrose Farm (NHER 40939) is noted, and dates to the 18th century or earlier.

Upton with Fishley is situated extremely close to the town of Acle, and as a result a large number of Acle’s World War Two period defences were situated in this parish. The majority of these were dismantled at the end of the war, but we know their location and approximate nature from aerial photographs. As a result, we know that a number of spigot mortars existed (NHER 39232), one of which survives today (NHER 36662), and that trenches (NHER 49473), gun emplacements (NHER 49486), barbed wire (NHER 49497) and more substantial structures (NHER 49501) were all used.

The main Acle area searchlight battery (NHER 14473) was also positioned in this parish, and it should be noted that until its recent replacement Acle Bridge (NHER 49405) still retained the demolition chambers put in place in order to enable destruction of the bridge should enemy troops be nearby.

Ruth Fillery-Travis (NLA), 27 July 2007


Further Reading

Knott, S., September 2004. ‘St Margaret, Upton’. Available: Accessed: 27 July 2007

Knott, S., September 2004. ‘St Mary, Fishley’. Available: Accessed: 27 July 2007

Knott, S., March 2005. ‘St Margaret, Topcroft’. Available: Accessed: 23 July 2007

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 1: Norwich and the Nortih-East (London, Penguin Books)


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