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

13 Responses to History

  1. Patsy Little says:

    Hello again Carol – I am not sure if you are aware but copies of the registers were sent to the Bishop or Archdeacon each year. These can be very useful if the parish registers are missing. The Norfolk Archdeacon’s Transcripts for Claxton start at 1725 and the Bishop’s Transcripts for Claxton start at 1691. Original digital images of both are available online but you have to search through as they are not all catalogued. I have also been looking through the Claxton Manorial Records in search of Horn family members (no luck!) and found several references for a Robert Chaplin from 1637. There is also the will of William Chaplin 1633 (see Norfolk Record Office online catalogue). Sorry if you already know about this and good luck with the hunting.

  2. Roger Wilson says:

    Thanks, Mike – it was a long shot anyway. But I did find the rebuilt Baptist Meeting House, and the headstones for Job Hupton and his third wife, Frances, and for his second wife Elizabeth (my great-great-great grandmother). And more evidence of family in Ashby, Hellington and Bergh Apton. So all-in-all a very successful (but footsore) day. But I’m still interested in any more local “colour” on Job. Thanks for your response.

  3. Roger Wilson says:

    Planning to visit Claxton tomorrow and then walk some of the country roads to Rockland, Hellington and Bergh Apton in honour of my forebears. Wondering if there are any traces in Claxton of the presence of Rev Job Hupton, firebrand Baptist of the early 19th Century? I believe his church at Claxton is no more – can anyone advise its precise location?

    • Site Manager says:

      Dear Roger
      There’s no time to check this out properly given that you plan to visit today. I will pass it on to the Parochial Church Council in case it rings any bells and otherwise hope you enjoy your visit. The weather’s looking fine too.
      Mike Balmer, Site Manager

  4. 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.

      • Patsy Little says:

        Hello Carol – are you still looking for information about the Chaplins? I am currently researching my family tree (Horn family who lived in Claxton in 1700s). I have found a John Horn who was a husbandman and who had a child called John in 1713 ( and Anne in 1715, Stephen in 1717 and Elizabeth in 1721). There are parish registers at Norfolk Record Office from 1747 and also earlier using the Archdeacon and Bishops transcripts. I have seen several Chaplins mentioned. Also there is a very old Chaplin will mentioned on the Norfolk Record Office online catalogue for Claxton wills and probate records. If you come across any Horn family members during your research, I would love to hear about them! Hope this helps. Best wishes – Patsy Little

    • Patsy LIttle says:

      PS Carol – did you know you can look at the original documents free online through the Mormon FamilySearch website? Patsy Little

      • Carol Fisk says:

        Hi, Patsy. Thanks. I think we’ve looked at all the documents available, including some old wills and legal docs at the National Archives. The early parish registers, which we really need, however must have been destroyed at some point. We’ll keep a look out for your people and let you know if we find any.

        • Patsy Little says:

          Hi again Carol – you have probably looked at these but the transcripts of the parish records (births marriages and burials) sent to the Archdeacon and Bishop each year for Claxton still exist and the originals of these can be viewed on line – for Claxton the Archdeacon’s Transcripts start at 1725 for Claxton and the Bishop’s transcripts for Claxton start at 1691. By the way I saw mention of a Robert Chaplin in the Claxton Manor records for 1637 so your family has been around there for a long time. No such luck with the Horn family.

  5. 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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