This page contains various articles and pictures relating to the history of Claxton and the surrounding area, and is added to on an ongoing basis. Another site which may be of interest is Norfolk Heritage Centre.

Village Schools


A class in front of old Claxton School near St Andrew’s Church (now a private dwelling)

Old School House 1902 FIRST-LAST-PUPILS-OF-NEW-CLAXTON-SCHOOL-MRS-SHARPEN-1002X1024_crop-1024x1024


Left – First (Mrs Sharpen) and last pupils at new Claxton School

 Village Church


Claxton Church

St Andrew’s Church, Claxton (see photo above from 1928) dates from the 12th century, though the west tower and porch were added in the 16th century and the chancel was rebuilt in the 19th century.  It is built of flint and red brick with limestone and brick dressings. The Nave is thatched, the chancel is plain-tiled with crested ridges, and the porch is pantiled.  It was Grade I listed in 1960.

In the chancel south-east corner there is a reset double piscina from the 13th century, with petalled bowls, central shaft and restored heads.  In the north-east corner there is a monument to Sir Henry Gaudy d.1620.  There is also a 15th century octagonal font with a stem with lions and slim-buttresses, and angel corbels below bowl.  A separate historical note can be viewed here.

The Manor

The outstanding name in the early history of Claxton is that of the knightly family of de Kerdeston from the village of that name, now absorbed into Reepham, who held lands in Norfolk and Suffolk from very early times.  Leaving their earlier pedigrees and matrimonial alliances we come to Sir William de Kerdeston, who, in 1339, obtained the much-coveted licence to castellate his Manor House at Claxton, and “a fortified house”, as pointed out by Mr Walter R Rudd, “was not only the hall-mark of gentility, but (as proved by such incidents as the successful attack on Paston’s house at Cresham and Hellesdon and the siege of Caistor Castle, neither events of general civil war) ofttimes a very present help in trouble”.  This William – “Lord Kerdeston” as he has been called – was a notable warrior.  In 1340-41 he was fighting in Flanders, and obtained from Edward III the grant of a market and fair at Claxton, most valuable privileges in those days.  He sent ten men-at-arms to the expedition against the Scots in 1341.  Later he was in the French wars, notably at the great battle of Crecy in 1346.  William de Kerdeston and Prior William de Claxton were amongst the witnesses to a charter to Richard Spynk, who environed Norwich with walls in 1343.  This powerful baron died in 1361.

An excellent and full account of de Kerdeston’s castle at Claxton is given by Mr W R Rudd in “The Norfolk Antiquarian Miscellany”, New Series, i pp. 86-93, with which is a fine illustration of the castle ruins from a charming photograph by Mr E Peake.  The remains are still considerable, though they have attracted very little attention from historians and antiquarians.

The photo below shows today’s estate, with the Manor and Castle in the centre midground.Claxton Manor estate

The Castle

Click here for more information about Claxton Castle.  A recent photo of some of the castle wall remains shown from the rear is below.DSC_0351

The Mill

The Claxton smockmill was a 12-sided horizontally-boarded mill built over a single storey 19-foot high brick base.  The boat-shaped cap had a petticoat, a gallery and a 6-bladed fan.  The mill was powered by two pairs of double-shuttered patent sails, one pair having 8 bays of 3 shutter and the other 7 bays of 3 shutters.  Striking was via a chain pole.

An auxiliary steam engine had been brought in by 1875 and appeared to still be in operation until c.1933 when it was replaced by an oil engine that was eventually used in preference to wind power by 1937.  Albert Arthur Culling Snr last used the windmill in 1938-39 and his son Albert Arthur Culling Jnr took over the oil powered mill in 1947. He also ran Mill Garage on the same site from where he operated the firm Culling & Son (Norwich) Ltd. – Coach Hire & Road Haulage Contractors.  The premises were eventually sold by the family in 1971.  c.1934: The mill ceased to operate by wind power. 1938-39: The mill ceased operation.  1945: The mill was demolished after part of it fell down. It was thought also to be a landmark for enemy aircraft.  1971: The mill base was used as a hut situated near the garage office of Culling & Son (Norwich) Ltd road haulage firm, until its sale later that year.

The Folly Inn

Folly Inn - 1920s

The photo (left) shows Mr and Mrs Farman outside the Folly Inn, which was built in 1911.

Mr Farman held a licence from 1904-1929.  The building is now a private residence on the corner of The Street and Folly Lane.

Pyke’s Railway

What now serves as an access road to Claxton Manor Farm once used to carry the 1928 extension of a narrow gauge railway which between 1926 and 1936 ran the 1.6 kilometres from Claxton Manor Farm to the south bank of the River Yare – in 1928 it was extended south to Staines Barn just east of the church.  The railway transported sugar beet which were loaded onto wherries and transported to the Cantley sugar factory which is situated 3.5 miles to the south-east.

Village Life

Billy Mason on Farmer Pike’s Threshing Machine
Mr-Sharman-outside-Claxton-Blacksmith-1024x630  Mr Sharman, Blacksmith outside his buildingLane1-1024x663
Mr & Mrs Shanny Hoddy by gate outside Hoddy House (now Apple Acre) on Church Lane.

Local Places of Interest/History

Station 146 Tower at Seething Airfield.
Langley Abbey


 The Original Village School 1847-1911                    The New School 1911-1981The Original Village School 1847-1911                    The New School 1911-1981

5 Responses to History

  1. Carol Fisk says:

    Just curious if there are any Chaplins left in Claxton. Our family tree has a lot of them there in the 1600s and 1700s, at least one a farrier who had a 400 year lease on land described as two acres of meadow and marsh. Wondering if the location can be determined from the description in the deed. Also, what happened to the parish registers??? Thanks.

    • Site Manager says:

      Hello Carol
      I’ve checked and there are no Chaplins on the Electoral Roll currently. You’ll need to check with the Archives Office in Norwich for the Parish Registers (or possibly the Church, details on this website).
      Mike Balmer
      Parish Clerk

      • Carol Fisk says:

        Thanks, Mike. The PRs are not at NRO but I’ll check with the church in case they held onto them. I expect they were lost somehow, though.

  2. John harvey says:

    I think I was the only baby ever born in The Folly. My name is John Harvey. My parents were Dennis and Gwen Harvey, Landlords at the time. Love the photos.

    • katrina says:

      I used to be taken into the folly as a very young baby by my father Eric (kimo) gilbert ,we used to live opposite the green ,

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