8 missing places and buildings in Norfolk

They are buildings and places lost by time, tragedy and history: the ghost village where the structural streets can still be seen, the wild west town of Great Yarmouth, the temple that hid a terrible curse and the pub where he learns the French Dog showed how she can spell, solve math problems, distinguish colors and read the clock.

On our second look at the wonderful sights and sights of Norfolk we wish we could go back in time to see, and here are eight other great places and buildings we wish we’d seen.

Remains of the church tower at Goodwick
– Credit: Archant

Goodwick ghost village

In Godwick, near Fakenham, there is part of the church tower above one of Norfolk’s best preserved ghost villages. Its skeleton of streets and buildings lies under the grass, appearing in the form of tall mounds. The Goodwicke either left their homes or died more than 400 years ago, but pedestrians can still roam the village streets. In 1597, Sir Edward Cook built a barn that is today used as a wedding venue, across one end of Main Street. Cattle have been grazed for centuries and never cultivated, pastures reveal long, straight hollows that are the remains of sunken streets, ditches and banks that mark the boundaries of individual possessions and low hills mark where medieval buildings once stood. The last surviving remnants of the old hall were demolished in the 1960s after it became precarious and the eastern half of the church tower fell after a storm in 1981. You can still see part of the tower and walk those unseen streets, the site is open from dawn to dusk on Mondays and Fridays Sunday and from dawn to midday on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Find out more at www.lostvillageofgodwick.co.uk.

The High Mill in Great Yarmouth

Southtown Tower Mill, also known as The High Mill and Press’s Mill, towered 122 feet atop the 20-foot-high lantern that covered it and was one of the tallest windmills in Europe and perhaps the tallest in Britain. Built in 1812, it was 12 stories high, built on oak piles and a raft: during the Crimean War, the army supplied vital flour by way of Yarmouth’s famous sailing ships. The mill stood on what is now Gatakre Road, and it is believed that after it was demolished in 1904, its stones were used to build the High Mill Terrace – look for homes with red chimneys. At its peak, the mill was working hard during the day and at night and four men worked each shift. On a clear day, from the top of the mill, the views across land and sea were breathtaking – the lantern also helped summon the ships safely to port.

Rivli Temple near Kings Lynn

The Rifle Brothers.  Photo: Courtesy of Norfolk Museums/Len Museum

The Rifle Brothers. Photo: Courtesy of Norfolk Museums/Len Museum
Credit: Norfolk Museums/Museum Lane

It’s the Lost Temple of Norfolk, the place where the secret brothers once met a mineral spring dedicated to the god of wine and goddess of love. When it was discovered in 1756, the iron-rich mineral spring in the South Wootton suburb of Kings Lynn in the former village of Rivley was honored with its temple and obelisk. And when both were vandalized and later demolished, those who inflicted the fatal blows had to deal with a terrible curse that lasted them forever. An oil painting from 1800 shows an octagonal temple with a conical roof, although this building was expanded in 1832 when a kitchen was added to the rear. Two sphinxes guarded the temple, and with the obelisk they brought the flavor of the Valley of the Kings to this secluded spot in the west of the county. By the first half of the 19th century, spring was beginning to lose its place in high society as the railways came and took people further west. But the Rivley brothers still came. In an article in the Eastern Daily Press dated September 22, 1936, an article about the Brotherhood and their temple wrote, “…many people who have questioned the secrets of the obelisk inscribed in Latin and the mysterious, closed, and closed little building appearing so unexpectedly.” Inscribed on the obelisk is what was interpreted as a curse: “Whoever removes it or asks to remove it, let him kill the last of his kind.” On June 23, 1978, a few days after Midsummer Night, the last traditional public celebration took place at Rivley Spring: an “anniversary party” as the EDP called it. Today, the site of the temple and basin is located in a private and lush forest – perhaps the spring will remain dry, and perhaps one day it will flow again.

The sunken village of Eccles

Engraving of the Eccles Tower among the sand dunes in a book on Norfolk churches by Hodgson

The Eccles Church tower among the sand dunes is engraved in a book on the churches of Norfolk by Hodgson published in 1823.
– Credit: Archant

Swallowed by a greedy sea, most of the ancient village of Eccles-on-Sea is now under water or under the sand we walk on today. All that remains of the other faded Norfolk villages is the pre-war Bush Farm hidden behind the dunes: the thriving medieval village that was once here is now under the waves or under the sand. St Mary’s Church was one of the last village survivors who went missing in the North Sea – some say you can still hear its bells ringing underwater as you sail nearby. Possibly built during the 12th century with a bell tower added 200 years later, St Mary’s appears to have been in use until the late 15th century. Three horrific storms in 1570 destroyed large swathes of village homes and left the church in a horrific state of neglect and largely dismantled it. However, the tower has been left standing, a useful nautical sign to aid in navigation for passing ships. By the beginning of the 18th century, the church was on the mainland edge of the dunes but the sand had begun to bury it, leaving only the octagonal bell tower visible. But the unusually high tide on Boxing Day 1862 carved into the hills and left the tower exposed, once again, like a belated Christmas present to Eccles’ villagers. In Norfolk Live, by Lilias Ryder Haggard (1892 – 1968), you recall the eerie sight of a stranded church tower and, even more horrifying, the gruesome sight of sea-bleached skeletons exposed in a sandy graveyard. Between 1986 and 1996, flint circles or rings of mud bricks in the sand revealed the locations of 11 wells which, at the end of their useful life, became medieval latrines and garbage dumps – creating a time capsule of history beneath them. Eccles sands. But in Eccles, the ruins have not been seen since around 2000 after the Environmental Agency’s urgent work to build a marine rock reef and recharge the beach to protect homes and properties.

The Ducal Palace, Norwich

Ducal Palace

The Ducal Palace named after Duke Street in Norwich
– Credit: Archant

In the 1540s, where the Duke Street car park now stands, the 3rd Duke of Norwich (whose son has been described as “the proudest boy in England”) commissioned the mansion. On the magnificent Norwich site of Colonel Unthank, Clive Lloyd presents a well-preserved history of the site and buildings that have since occupied this central slice of the city.

Ducal Palace

The Ducal Palace named after Duke Street in Norwich
– Credit: Archant

The palace includes courtyards, a fountain, a tower, a bowling alley, and covered tennis courts. It was extensively rebuilt and remodeled in 1671, but in 1711, only 40 years later, demolition work began. It may have been due to a subsidence caused by a flood, but some historians have suggested that it was due to a disagreement between the Duke of Norfolk and the Mayor of Norwich. After demolition, part of the palace’s former bowling alley became a workshop, while Duke’s Palace Inn – a pub was created. This was demolished in 1974. It was in the palace where the Fourth Duke tried to win the hand of Mary Queen of Scots and where Thomas Baskerville, in 1681, remarked that he was “…sitting in a place with dung”. The Tuscan columns in Mayor John Harvey’s home at 20 Collegiate are said to have been recycled from the Ducal Palace.

Old Boyland Hall

Boyland Hall - A lost hall in a lost village

Boyland Hall – A lost hall in a lost village
– Credit: Archant

In a lost hall in a lost village near Morningthorpe, there is a persistent rumor that the repentant ghost of Oliver Cromwell is said to have appeared on the stairs. Boyland Hall was a large Elizabethan house in the north of the village that was rebuilt in the 19th century in the Gothic style but was demolished after the death of its owner in 1930 and was demolished in 1947. The only account of the ghost seen notes on the stairs in Boyland Hall that the ghost has been identified as Oliver Cromwell is said to have haunted the hall because he was having an affair with a former occupant. There is little evidence that Cromwell was having an affair, in fact his love for his wife was well documented in letters exchanged between the spouses. The hall, filled with art and antiques, was a sight worth seeing in its heyday.

Cowtown USA, Great Yarmouth

Eastern Western: Sheriff Danny Arnold in his Cow Town allure, introduced by Leslie Shepherd to T.E.

Eastern Western: Sheriff Danny Arnold in his Cow Town allure, introduced by Leslie Shepherd to the Marina outdoor amphitheater in the 1970s
– Credit: Submitted by

Our more mature readers may remember, ahem, this tribute to the Wild West that once stood on the waterfront in Great Yarmouth on the site of what is now the Marina Center and what was once an outdoor marina. Built to resemble a slice of America’s Wild West when prospectors and pioneers made their way to a better life and scrambled for pots of gold, Yarmouth was the last frontier. Gun-toting cowboys, cheating outlaws, swinging saloon doors, one-room prisons (how many of you have a picture of you “in jail”?!), a booze-filled poker shootout, it all happened in Cowtown USA a year ago. 1975 through 1977. Every day during the summer season, there were seven shows from the Wild West that included gun battles where Sheriff Danny Arnold was striving to keep the peace (there was a stage dog falling to the ground as if he was also shot). Parkers held a photography franchise and was on hand to take pictures of visitors with cowboys and pack girls, and you can get an American treat at the Hash House. There was a wrestling ring, a stage coach on the rooftop, and a chance to become the star of your own “Wanted” label.

Chapelfield Temple

Pagoda or wrought iron pavilion in Chapelfield Gardens, July 1, 1934. Photo: George Plunkett

Pagoda or wrought iron pavilion in Chapelfield Gardens, July 1, 1934. Photo: George Plunkett
Credit: George Plunkett

In 1880 Japan reached Chapelfield Gardens in Norwich when the Norwich Company purchased Thomas Jekyll’s Pagoda for £500. Made of cast iron from the foundry at Barnard Bishop and Barnards’s Norfolk Iron Works, the pagoda featured Jeckyll’s sunflower design — 72 flowers stood like guards around the pagoda making the balustrade. The 40-foot-high, 40-ton pagoda was as beautiful inside as it was outside: adorned with Japanese-style tapestries (some can still be seen in Norwich Castle’s fashion and textile department), it was a fine example of Victorian brilliance as events were held do not believe. Damaged during the 1942 bombing raids, the pagoda was dismantled – the original sunflowers from the building are in the gates of Higham Park while copies form the new gates to Chapelfield Gardens itself.

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