Showing posts from July, 2010

Broads Brand


North Elmham

I’d come to North Elmham pursuing a mystery. Did the Bishops of Elmham from Bedwinus in the 7th century to Herfast in the 11th have their cathedral in Norfolk or  Suffolk?  North or South Elmham?

I’d followed a circular walk I’d found in the  Norfolk Health Heritage and Conservations Walks  leaflet (You can get hold of one from Norfolk County Council or on-line at .)  It took me through parkland,  along quiet lanes and ended up at the parish church  (Well worth a visit in its own right!)

My final destination was indicated by a brown tourist sign. Uncompromisingly it asserts “Saxon Cathedral”! But when you get to the ruins and read English Heritage’s helpful interpretation boards there’s no certainty at all.  What you see are earthworks and  ruins of a castle built by Henry Despencer,  the fighting Bishop of Norwich. He was famous for putting down the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381. A man not without enemies, Henry had obviously felt the need of protecti…

South Elmham

Within their own earthworks the stubbs of flint walls delineate where once a proud building stood.  Not the Saxon Minster promised by the Ordinance Survey map but a rather later build, like churches in Great Yarmouth and Kings Lynn and the cathedral in Norwich, the work of Herbert de Losinga. But Herbert built where a church had stood from the earliest days of  Christianity in East Anglia.  Beneath ancient Hornbeams the all pervading green is relieved by flowers -  patches of Red Campion and  the white filigree of Queen Ann’s Lace. And from tree top stalls Blackbirds sing antiphonally where once choirs sung their Creators praise.

This is South Elmham. I had walked to the glade on way marked paths from a car park at South Elmham Hall where I’d called into the cafĂ© to pick up a leaflet.
The  parishes of the Ferding of Elmham form a block of land which might have been given to St. Felix by King Sigbert in the 7th Century.
“Of Elmham”  Bishops were designated from the time of Beaduwine …

The Primrose Path ?!

I   walked down the lane at the height of spring enjoying the sun . The air was as heady as chilled champagne and  I was following my nose. There was a new whiff of pig on the air.  I set off to investigate passing  down Horstead’s Primrose Lane but for all my searching I couldn’t find even one!  Stitchwort and early Bluebells? Yes.  Primroses? No.  Yet there must have been lots of them once upon a time. Did thieves plunder them ?   There are lots of wild Primroses in local gardens, but my guess is that  a change of maintenance of the verges will have played  largest part.  In days gone by they made as much hay as they could.  Now the verges are cut and left.  Un-raked grass soon becomes rank and humpy and  can strangle plants. Primroses are especially vulnerable.

Saddened by the loss of Primroses I found two places where rubbish had been dumped by the roadside.  Doesn’t fly tipping  make you cross!?  We talk about dirty pigs.  What about dirty humans? I eventually found the porkers …