Parish Summary: Ingworth

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 tiny parish of Ingworth is situated to the north of Aylsham in northeast Norfolk. Its name comes from the old English for  ‘Inga’s enclosure’. The parish has a long history of settlement, and was certainly well established by the time of the Norman Conquest, its population, land ownership and productive resources being recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. With one exception, all the recorded archaeological evidence for the parish is in the south.

The earliest evidence of human activity in the parish comes in the form of a prehistoric flint scraper (NHER 18433), but the oldest precisely dateable finds are a Neolithic partly polished flint axehead (NHER 15187) and an adze (NHER 24176). Although evidence of a Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement has been found in Aylsham to the east, as yet there is nothing in Ingworth to indicate occupation at those times.

Roman finds to date are three fragments of pottery (NHER 23307) found east of Little Cubitt’s Carr. Late 19th century reports of Roman buildings being seen in a gravel pit nearby (NHER 7385) are thought to be unlikely. Evidence of Saxon occupation is limited to a rather nice Middle to Late Saxon copper alloy buckle frame decorated with animal heads (NHER 21830), although the village church may have Late Saxon origins (see below). 

Photograph of St Laurence's Church, Ingworth.

St Laurence's Church, Ingworth. (© NCC.)

The medieval period has left the parish with its oldest surviving building, St Laurence’s Church (NHER 7411). Set on a mound in the middle of Ingworth village, this thatched building is one of Norfolk’s more unusual churches. Parts of the nave and the remains of the round west tower are very early, probably mid 11th century. The chancel was remodelled in the 13th century and the whole church renovated in the 15th century, when new nave windows and the rood stair were added, the nave being extended south and given a new south door and porch. The tower fell in 1822, but its stump was stabilised in a restoration of 1895, when it was given a conical thatched roof. It is now used as a vestry. Inside can be found a 14th or 15th century font, a fine panel of medieval continental glass in the east window, a quite rare carved royal arms for William III and good 18th century box pews. The 17th century pulpit is a cut down remainder of what must have been an impressive three decker model.

Other medieval buildings have not survived, but have left a footprint in the form of their surrounding moat, often only visible from the air. For instance, earthworks of a partially moated site in the extreme south (NHER 7403), possibly the site of medieval Ingworth Hall, are clearly visible on aerial photographs, set within a network of modern drainage channels. Medieval finds from the parish to date are coins, a seal matrix inscribed ‘Love me and give’ (NHER 31692) and a lead pilgrim bottle (NHER 23308).

The only post medieval building entry on the record actually consists of several structures. In the west of the parish, by the river, is the site of a watermill (NHER 12682), marked on a late 18th century map. The mill was demolished in 1912, but its sluice gate, complete with machinery, can still be seen in the west part of a 19th century brick and flint bridge. The adjacent Mill House, attractively set between the river and the church, is an early 19th century building with 19th century ranges to the left and right and later additions to the rear. Post medieval finds are coins, a token and a jetton (NHER 31692), together with the only record from the north of the parish, a witch bottle (NHER 6708), dug up under foundations in 1970. These were placed in buildings to warn off evil spirits.

The relatively small number of finds in the parish may reflect its small size, but could also indicate a lack of detailed investigation, for instance by metal detecting.

Piet Aldridge (NLA), 13 April 2006.


Further reading

Brown, P. (ed.), 1984. Domesday Book, 33 Norfolk (Chichester, Phillimore & Co)

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

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