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Appleton medieval and early post-medieval settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Flitcham with Appleton, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.8145 / 52°48'52"N

Longitude: 0.5345 / 0°32'4"E

OS Eastings: 570908.932064

OS Northings: 327111.427812

OS Grid: TF709271

Mapcode National: GBR P4G.HZH

Mapcode Global: WHKQ1.5JT7

Entry Name: Appleton medieval and early post-medieval settlement

Scheduled Date: 3 November 1965

Last Amended: 12 March 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020768

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30612

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Flitcham with Appleton

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Flitcham St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


The monument, which is in two separate areas of protection, includes the
remains of a medieval and early post-medieval settlement. The first area,
which is largely to the south of a track leading to Appleton Farm, contains
the standing and buried remains of St Mary's parish church and the greater
part of the surrounding churchyard in which there is a holy well, together
with the site of a moated manor house adjoining the churchyard. The second
area, approximately 450m to the south east of the first, contains earthworks
which mark the remains of a farmstead and associated enclosures.

The Domesday survey of 1086 records that the greater part of Appleton at that
time was held as a manor with twenty smallholders and two slaves, and that
another part was held as an outlier of Dersingham, with five smallholders and
one slave. It also mentions the church, which was endowed with 12 acres
(4.8ha) of land. The population evidently fell during the medieval period,
since only 10 householders were recorded in 1428, and the decline continued
during the following centuries. A map drawn in 1617 but based on a survey of
1595 shows just four widely dispersed dwellings, including the moated hall and
the farmstead to the south east of it, with an unoccupied moat to the south
west marking the site of an abandoned homestead. The church was reported in
1602 to be in a state of decay, and by the mid-18th century it was a ruin. In
1571 the manor of Appleton was in the possession of Clement Paston, fourth son
of Sir William Paston of Paston. Clement left it to his nephew, Sir Edward
Paston who, around 1598, built a mansion thought to have been situated to the
north of the medieval manor house on or near the site now occupied by Appleton
Farm. The mansion was eventually destroyed by fire in 1707.

The church is prominently sited on rising ground, with pronounced scarps to
south and west. The standing ruins comprise the walls of the nave with an
arcade of three bays on the south side, a round west tower and a south porch.
The fabric and architectural details provide evidence both of the original
construction in the 11th century and of later additions and alterations. The
south arcade is evidence for an aisle which was probably demolished in the
early post-medieval period, when the arches of the arcade were infilled with
masonry and the porch constructed within what had been the western bay. The
chancel was also demolished, probably in the 17th century, since it is shown
on the map of 1617, and the chancel arch blocked to form a new east wall at
the end of the nave. This east wall and the blocking of the south arcade are
now gone but they are depicted in a lithograph of 1835 which shows windows of
two lights, probably taken from the south wall of the aisle, inserted in the
middle and eastern arches of the arcade. Nothing of the aisle is visible above
ground, and only the stubs of the chancel walls adjoining the east end of the
nave survive, but evidence for both will survive below the ground surface.

The nave is approximately 10.5m in length and 5.5m wide overall and the walls
are built of roughly coursed blocks of Sandringham stone, flints and
occasional pieces of conglomerate, with two buttresses constructed of
limestone and early post-medieval brick on the north side. Towards the west
end of the north wall is a small doorway with pointed, hollow chamfered arch
of limestone and an inner segmental arch, and further to the east are the
jambs and sill of a large window. The arcade on the south side is dated to
the 14th century and is of finely carved limestone, with arches of two orders
springing from octagonal piers with moulded capitals and bases. The octagonal
responds of the chancel arch survive in a weathered state against the east end
of the nave walls, but the head of the arch has gone. In the floor of the nave
a memorial slab to Agnes Paston, dated 1671, is exposed and beside it is a
carved medieval grave slab, possibly not in its original position, since it is
not mentioned in Blomefield's History of Norfolk which describes other
memorials in the church.

The round west tower still stands intact almost to its full original height
and is of three stages. It is built predominantly of random pieces of
Sandringham stone in the ground floor stage and, above that, of coursed
carstone and conglomerate. This change in the masonry in relation to that
of the adjoining west wall of the nave suggest that the upper two stages, at
least, were constructed after the completion of the nave. Also included in
the masonry of the tower are occasional pieces of Roman tile, probably
quarried from the site of a Roman villa which lies some 900m to the north
east. The ground floor stage is pierced on the west side by a small lancet
window and above this, at second storey level, another small opening with
jambs of conglomerate blocks and a round head carved from a single block of
stone. At the belfry stage there are four large bell openings, each with a
central, recessed cylindrical column constructed of carstone. The tower arch
which opens onto the nave has a plain round head with limestone blocks set
asymmetrically, and jambs of roughly dressed limestone blocks and Roman tile.
The side walls of the south porch are roughly built of clunch, Sandringham
stone, carstone, flint and some brick. The entrance is of two orders of brick
with a pointed arch in a gabled south wall built of coursed carstone. A small
limestone stoup for holy water is set into the inner face of the east wall.

The monument is believed also to include buried remains of an early 14th
century chantry chapel of St Katherine, apparently separate from the main body
of the church, which is recorded as having been built by Matilda de Tony in
the churchyard here so that Masses might be celebrated for the souls of
herself and her husband.

The boundaries of the churchyard are no longer marked but are shown on the
early 17th century map which provides sufficient detail for them to be
plotted. The area indicated is roughly square, measuring about 80m on each
side, with the church situated slightly to north of centre and the boundaries
aligned according to the long axis of the church. The northern boundary
followed the line of a former road which, as shown on the early 17th century
map, ran between 12m and 15m to the north of the modern track which runs past
the church. The part of the churchyard beneath and to the north of the modern
track is included in the scheduling.

The holy well lies in the south eastern corner of the churchyard area, about
50m south east of the church, and is visible as a roughly circular basin with
a well head structure, probably of 19th century date, on the east side. The
basin is lined with stone blocks, and the well head structure consists of a
round headed wall with a central niche constructed of stone blocks and reused
architectural fragments which include a piece of relief carving set above the
niche. The well is mentioned in Blomefield's History, in which it is described
as `a curious spring, called Holy-Well' with a little stream issuing from it,
and it is marked on the early 17th century map by the name `Ladyeswell'.

The moated manor house lay immediately to the south and east of the
churchyard. The early 17th century map depicts a substantial house on an
island enclosed by two concentric moats within a larger enclosure named as
`Halle Close'. The central island occupied by the house was roughly triangular
in plan, measuring about 75m south west-north east by about 55m across its
widest point at the eastern end, and access was provided by a narrow causeway
across the northern arm of the moat. The outer moat enclosed the western,
southern and eastern sides of the inner moat at a distance of between 30m and
58m, running south eastwards from the southern boundary of the churchyard,
then east and northwards to a road or track along the northern boundary of the
manorial enclosure. The southern arm of the outer moat was linked to the south
western corner of the inner moat by a channel, possibly with a sluice to
control the water levels. The inner moat has been infilled except for the
western end of the northern arm, which has been enlarged to form an irregular
pond, but a part of the moat to the east of the pond is visible as a shallow
depression, and the inner edge of the southern and eastern arms is visible as
a scarp up to 1m in height, indicating that the surface of the central island
was artificially raised. The outer moat has also been infilled, although most
of the southern arm remained open into the 20th century and is recorded on
second edition 25 inch Ordnance Survey maps. There is still a small pond
towards the western end, and the line of the moat to the east of the pond is
traceable in part as a slight depression in the ground surface. Both of the
infilled moats will survive as buried features.

Although the early 17th century map was drawn after Sir Edward Paston had
constructed his mansion, it appears to show only the buildings which existed
in 1595, at the time of the original survey on which it is based. It includes
not only the manor house but a large building, possibly a barn, in the angle
between the northern arm of the inner moat and the eastern boundary of the
churchyard, and a small building with a conical roof, probably a dove house,
just beyond the north eastern corner of the inner moat. The central island is
now occupied by a 19th century cottage.

The farmstead which lay within the second area of protection is shown on the
map of 1617, on an estate map dating from the first half of the 18th century,
and on the tithe map of 1839. These record a succession of buildings and field
boundaries to the south of a stream known at various times as Denton Beck or
Denbeck. Fragments of Late Saxon and medieval pottery found on the site,
together with pieces of medieval roof tile, are evidence for occupation at an
earlier date.

The earthworks on the site extend over an area of about 7.5ha and many of
them correspond to features shown on the maps. On the 17th century map the
farmstead is shown standing to the west of a road which was the continuation
southward of the road running past the parish church and manor house. The line
of this road is followed by a modern track as far as the northern end of the
site, and its continuation southward, which also defines the eastern boundary
of the farmstead, can be seen as a broad linear hollow with remains of a bank
along the western side. Immediately west of this hollow way is a large
rectangular platform, defined on the west and south sides by scarps up to 1m
high and measuring about 90m north west-south east by 57m. At the foot of the
scarp on the south side there are traces of a ditch and bank corresponding to
the southern boundary of two rectangular yards shown on the 19th century tithe
map. The boundary between the two yards is visible in part as a very slight
bank on a line running north west-south east. On the eastern side of the
platform, fronting the hollow way, are two low, roughly rectangular raised
platforms which probably mark the sites of buildings, although their position
does not correspond exactly to that of buildings shown on any of the three
maps and they may relate to an earlier period. On the 17th century map the
buildings, drawn in perspective as was the convention at that time, are ranged
around the four sides of a rectangular courtyard. A large building with three
chimneys and two entrances facing onto the yard is shown on the west side,
possibly representing the farmhouse with an adjoining barn or cow house. A
smaller building with a chimney stood on the south side, with two outbuildings
ranged on the north and east sides. These buildings are depicted in the area
of the large rectangular platform, close to the road. Two adjacent, shallow
rectangular depressions near the south west corner of the platform correspond
approximately to the position of the large building as shown on the map and
perhaps indicate the position of cellars. The 18th century map, on which the
buildings are drawn in plan, shows six buildings, similarly grouped around a
courtyard and with the largest building, probably a barn, to the west. This
courtyard was clearly situated further west than the position indicated on the
earlier map and, of the buildings shown, only two on the east side appear to
have stood on the large platform.

The farmstead was evidently demolished and rebuilt in the later 18th or early
19th century since, with the possible exception of the farmhouse, none of the
buildings shown on the tithe map correspond to those on the 18th century map.
The tithe map shows the farmhouse as an L-shaped building close to the western
edge of the large platform, with a narrow building, possibly a cart shed, on
the same alignment to the south of it. The principal farm buildings stood
about 45m to the west of the farmhouse and were ranged along the north and
west sides of a yard, in the south eastern angle of which was a smaller yard
with a building along the north side. The site of the northern and southern
ranges is marked by slight earthworks and irregularities in the ground
surface. Low scarps define the inner edge of the northern range and the angle
at its western end, and at a position corresponding to the southern end of the
west range there is a sub-rectangular mound up to 0.6m in height. The western
range evidently contained a barn, with a cart entrance projecting from the
western side. Immediately opposite the site of this projection are the visible
remains of what was probably a ramp up to the cart entrance, a slight
rectangular mound with parallel depressions along the northern and southern
sides. All but the smaller yard had been demolished before the 2nd edition
Ordnance Survey 25 inch map was compiled in the early 20th century, and this
was finally demolished in the late 20th century.

The remains of intersecting ditches and banks to south and west of the farm
buildings define the boundaries of enclosures of various dates. One of these,
running westwards from the hollow way at a distance of about 78m south of the
large rectangular platform, corresponds to a boundary which is shown, with
little variation, on all three maps, and another which runs north westwards
from this, about 186m west of the hollow way, and which is visible as a slight
linear depression with the intermittent remains of a broad bank along the west
side, corresponds to a boundary shown on the 18th and 19th century maps. A
broad ditch which extends westwards from this marks the northern boundary of
an enclosure shown on the early 17th century map, and south of it a series of
low, parallel ridges and furrows on a north west-south east alignment provide
evidence for medieval or early post-medieval cultivation. On the 18th century
map and the tithe map, a large rectangular pond is shown north west of the
site of the farmstead, alongside the stream. The site of this feature, which
was perhaps a fishpond with earlier origins, is now marked by a slight
depression in the ground surface.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: the cottage
on the site of the moated manor, a stable to the north east of the cottage, a
garage, the concrete base of a dismantled greenhouse, clothes line poles,
outbuildings and a transformer adjacent to the pump house situated on the east
side of the site of the manor, a pump in the field to the east of the site of
the inner moat and south of the pump house, an oil tank, inspection chambers,
the surfaces of tracks and driveways, the surfaces of yards and paths, service
poles, all fences and gates, drinking troughs and stand pipes. The ground
beneath all these features is, however, included. The pump house is totally
excluded from the scheduling.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the last 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Wash sub-Province of the South-eastern Province, an
area which can be divided into two parts. The western part is the fenlands
with associated marshlands, siltlands and islands, with villages, hamlets and
bands of farmsteads and cottages clinging to the slight islands and dykes
above land once seasonally flooded. The eastern part embraces the sands and
loams of west Norfolk, studded with ancient villages and hamlets, some of them
depopulated. To the south lie the Brecklands, an elevated, thinly-settled
The East Norfolk local region was characterised by numerous medieval villages
and hamlets, rather than the isolated halls and scattered farmsteads that
dominated other regions of Norfolk. Archaeological evidence indicates that
this has been a prosperous farming area since Roman times, and its woodland
may have been largely cleared long before the Norman Conquest.

In some areas of medieval England settlement was dispersed across the
landscape rather than nucleated into villages. Such dispersed settlement in an
area, usually a township or parish, is defined by the lack of a single (or
principal) nucleated settlement focus, such as a village, and the presence
instead of small settlement units (small hamlets or farmsteads) spread across
the area. These small settlements normally have a degree of interconnection
with their close neighbours, for example in relation to shared common land or
road systems. Dispersed settlements varied enormously from region to region,
and where they survive as earthworks, their distinguishing features include
roads and other minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other
buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. In
areas where stone was used for building, the outline of building foundations
may still be clearly visible. Areas of dispersed medieval settlement are found
in both the South Eastern province and the Northern and Western provinces of
England. They are found in upland and also in some lowland areas. Where
found, their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of
understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries following the
Norman Conquest.

The known archaeological remains of Appleton, and the documentation from the
late 16th century onward, indicate that this was a dispersed settlement,
although it is possible that before the population declined in the medieval
period there was a nucleus of homesteads clustered around the church and
adjacent manor house.

The remains of the church, moated manor and substantial farmstead which are
included in the scheduling illustrate the social organisation and hierarchy of
the medieval and early post-medieval community and something of the economy
which sustained it. The church, which is mentioned in Domesday, is of
particular interest. The fabric of the standing walls contains evidence for a
sequence of building and alteration from the 11th century onward and, since
the church went out of use in the early 18th century, the buried remains will
not have been disturbed by 19th century restoration or later works and will
retain further archaeological evidence for its history and use. Information
relating to the medieval and early post-medieval population of Appleton will
also be preserved in the surrounding churchyard.

The holy well within the churchyard is also of significance. Holy wells are
water sources with specifically Christian associations, although it is clear
that some of them originated as pre-Christian sacred sites. The cult of holy
wells continued through the medieval period and, although it was condemned at
the time of the Reformation (c.1540), local reverence for existing sites often
continued, together with associated folklore customs. Holy wells sometimes
functioned as sites for baptism, but they were also revered for less tangible
reasons, such as a belief in the healing powers of the water and its capacity
to effect a desired outcome for future events. Associated rituals often
evolved, usually requiring the donation of an object or coin to retain the
`sympathy' of the well for the person seeking its benefits. Although
apparently restored in the 19th century, the well associated with St Mary's
Church is likely to retain archaeological evidence for its earlier form and
for activities and customs relating to it.

The moated manor house adjacent to the church was, like the church, a focal
element of the settlement and was its administrative centre. Although the
double moat has been infilled, its extent can be traced from surviving surface
traces and by reference to early mapped depictions. The greater part of the
area which it enclosed has remained largely undisturbed by building and other
activities since the end of the 16th century. Archaeological evidence for the
construction of the moats, for the associated buildings, and for the domestic
life of the people who inhabited them will therefore be preserved on the
raised central island and in the outer enclosure. The infilled moats are
likely to contain waterlogged deposits in which organic materials, including
artefacts and evidence relating to the local environment in the past, will
also be preserved.

The earthworks to the south east of the church and moated manor provide
evidence for the organisation and occupation of a farmstead over a long period
of time, and can be interpreted in part by reference to maps spanning a period
of over 200 years from the end of the 16th century. Buried remains of the
various buildings shown on the maps and evidence relating to their use will be
preserved on the site, which is also likely to retain important archaeological
information relating to the earlier occupation of the farmstead in the
medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Calendar of Patent Rolls 1317-21443
Calendar of Patent Rolls 1327-30448
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of Norfolk , (1808), 331
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of Norfolk , (1808), 331
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of Norfolk , (1808), 330
Batcock, N, 'East Anglian Archaeol' in The Ruined and Disused Churches of Norfolk, , Vol. 51, (1991), M35
Blake, W J, 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Fuller's List of Norfolk Gentry, , Vol. 32, (1961), 282
Cozens-Hardy, B, 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Some Norfolk Halls, , Vol. 32, (1961), 165
Cushion, B, Flitcham SMR3501 Little Appleton, (1995)
NF 1042 Appleton deserted village and church ruins,
Title: Descriptio Manerii de Apleton (redrawn in 1617)
Source Date: 1595
NRO ref. BRA 2524/6
Title: Descriptio Manerii de Apleton (redrawn in 1617)
Source Date: 1595
NRO ref. BRA 2524/6
Title: Map of the Manner of Flitcham..with the Farm of Little Appleton
Source Date: 1728
NRO ref. MS 4295
Title: Ordnance Survey 25" Map
Source Date: 1928

Title: Tithe Map of Appleton
Source Date: 1839
NRO ref. DN/TA 165

Source: Historic England

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