Parish Summary: Ingham

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

Ingham is in the North Norfolk district. Located between Brumstead and Hickling it is just inland of the east Norfolk coast. Some of the land in the area is recorded as being held by the monks of St Benedict in the Domesday Book. The village name is intriguing. It may derive from Old English. If so it could be translated as ‘homestead of a man called Inga’. An alternative interpretation suggests the ‘Ing’ part of the name may come from an ancient German tribe called the Ingvione. A third alternative explanation suggests the name really comes from Old Norse and means ‘river meadow’.

The earliest find recorded in the database is a Mesolithic flint axehead (NHER 8350). Several Neolithic axeheads (NHER 8213, 8214, 8241, 8351 and 14791) have been recovered. Fieldwalking on the line of the Bacton to Great Yarmouth gas pipeline recovered many more prehistoric worked flints. A Neolithic scraper (NHER 42577) has also been found. A barbed and tanged flint arrowhead (NHER 8241) was dated to the Beaker period. A Late Bronze Age hoard (NHER 8216) was found in 1811 or 1812 when a ditch was deepened. This contained fourteen copper alloy axeheads, three spearheads and several other objects. Four of the items are in the Liverpool Museum, whilst the others are lost. Several Bronze Age barrows (NHER 8221, 38542, 38543 and 38549) have also been identified. These can be seen as ring ditches on aerial photographs. Excitingly an Iron Age or Roman farmstead (NHER 38572) and traces of the field systems (NHER 38545, 38541 and 42135) that surrounded it can also be seen as cropmarks.

In addition to the farmstead described above there are also other Roman features that can be seen on aerial photographs. These include two possible Roman rectangular enclosures (NHER 36124 and 38540), trackways (NHER 38575) and field boundaries (NHER 38576, 38546 and 38574). These types of cropmarks, that record so clearly how the landscape was used by the Romans, are a relatively rare survival. More common are the coins (NHER 8217, 23727, 35129 and 39291) and pottery (NHER 28189, 33427 and 34951) that have been found. One of the older records describes the discovery of the bases of two Roman pots in 1939 (NHER 8218 and 8219). Unfortunately the exact location of this discovery is unclear.

In comparison to the prehistoric and Roman periods there is very little evidence for Saxon activity. Pieces of Early Saxon (NHER 24123), Middle and Late Saxon (NHER 31459) and Late Saxon (NHER 25520, 30461, 31460) pot are the only evidence. Most of these were picked up during fieldwalking before the gas pipeline was laid. 

Photograph of the Holy Trinity Church, Ingham. The church had a former use as the conventual church of the Trinitarian priory of St Mary and Holy Trinity. Unusually the church was used jointly by the priory and parish. It was rebuilt in 1360 when the priory was founded by this uncommon monastic order. Photograph from

Holy Trinity Church, Ingham. The church had a former use as the conventual church of the Trinitarian priory of St Mary and Holy Trinity. photograph from  S. Knott.)

Ingham Priory (NHER 8220) was founded by the Trinitarians in 1360. This is an excellent example of a small rural monastic foundation. Trinitarians were a relatively unusual order. There are no other Trinitarian priories in Norfolk or East Anglia – the nearest neighbouring order was in Hertford. When Ingham Priory was founded the local parish church was rebuilt. Unusually it was then used by the local parish and the priory. Ingham Priory is the only Trinitarian priory in Britain that has surviving buildings. These include the church and parts of the cloister and precinct walls have been rebuilt into post medieval buildings and the churchyard wall. It is thought that the Swan Inn (NHER 44232) may contain parts of an earlier building belonging to the priory. Most of this building, however, dates to the 18th century. Desktop research and buildings survey has demonstrated that Grange Farm barn (NHER 34700) was built in 1380 or 1381 by the priory. It was significantly altered in 1709. This single aisled barn is the only example of this type of construction in Norfolk. Stones from the priory building (NHER 33836 and 19102) can be seen around the village. The site of a medieval moat (NHER 8246) can be seen on aerial photographs. So can a possible manorial boundary ditch (NHER 8258) and the medieval peat cuttings that are now filled with water (Calthorpe Broad, NHER 13506). A medieval road and ditch (NHER 38573) have also been identified. Metal detecting has recovered a number of interesting medieval finds. These include the leg of a copper alloy vessel (NHER 35129), a chunky annular brooch (NHER 35286) and a shield-shaped lead weight depicting a Latin cross (NHER 23768).

Ingham Mill (NHER 8247) is a post medieval tower windmill. The site of another possible windmill or watermill (NHER 8370) and two separate brickworks (NHER 8257 and 29180) can be seen on an old map. The nonconformist burial ground (NHER 16975) is thought to be one of the oldest in the county. It was founded in 1672. The oldest gravestones date to 1675. Two nearby cottages may have originally been the chapel. Another interesting site is the fishponds and ‘maggerack’ earthworks (NHER 35111). The maggerack was used to produce maggots. These were then fed to the fish. Racks and a mesh held carrion over the water. Maggots bred in the carrion and then dropped down to the waiting fish. Fortunately the maggerack is no longer in use although the earthworks are now managed and have been restored to their former glory! A fair has taken place at The Fairstead (NHER 28190) since the post medieval period. Over 200 post medieval coins have been found here by a metal detectorist.

The Old Hall (NHER 8253) was built in 1905. This building includes some interesting 14th century architectural features. These may have come from the Priory (NHER 8220) or an earlier house or chapel on the site of the 1905 building. Other sites continued to be used into the medieval period. Ingham Mill (NHER 8247) was used as a Royal Observer Corps post from 1934 until 1959 when an underground post was constructed nearby. The underground post was built to protect members of the Corp from nuclear fall out in the event of attack during the Cold War. A road block (NHER 32638) and anti-tank ditches (NHER 38588 and 38505) were also constructed during World War Two.

Megan Dennis (NLA), 7 April 2006.


Further Reading

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

Knott, S., 2004. ‘Holy Trinity, Ingham’. Available: Accessed: 7 April 2006.

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

Neville, J., 2004. ‘Norfolk Mills – Ingham tower windmill’. Available: Accessed: 7 April 2006.

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

Smyth, L., 2003. ‘Roll of Honour – Norfolk – Ingham’. Available: Accessed: 7 April 2006.

Unknown, unknown. ‘Ingham, Norfolk’. Available: Accessed: 7 April 2006.

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