A NORTH NORFOLK VILLAGE
The Norwich Road between Holt and Edgefield is narrow and twists to the left and to the right all the way to the village, and beyond to Saxthorpe. It is definitely the worst part of the main road from Norwich to Hollt. Edgefield village is separated from the town of Holt by the river Glaven, and on that river there were, until the last war, the remains of a watermill. All trace of the mill has now gone, and of the two adjacent cottages only some low walls are left. This mill could not have been very productive as it did not have much of a head of water. Hempstead mill is not far upstream.
The church appears to be medieval, but was rebuilt, stone by stone. It was finished in 1885. The masonry is for the most part genuinely ancient, but the church itself is relatively modern. It used to stand a mile to the west of the village near Hunworth, where the original tower still stands. The new church had a brand new design of tower built in 1909. This whole rebuilding was the idea of the Rev Marcon, who was rector of the parish for 60 years during this time.
My father occasionally stopped at Edgefield Garage to fill up with fuel. We would be going through the village on the way to my boarding school in Holt. This petrol was dispensed from an antique pump that was operated by a handle at the back, which the attendant had to wind round. Self-service and petrol stations as we know them today were still decades in the future in 1965, but Edgefield petrol station was decades in the past. A gauge like a clock face indicated the gallons dispensed; the ‘minute hand’ measured the pints. Power and National Benzole were the names on the pumps, two long gone brands in the world of fuel. Naturally one may no longer buy petrol there and the pumps have gone, although the garage still repairs cars.
The place at which I have spent most time in the village as an adult is the pub. The 17th century inn was called the Three Pigs back in the 18th century. Since then it has had a number of name changes, mostly revolving around a porcine theme. It has variously been the Pigg Inn, the Bacon Arms, the Three Pigs (again) and is currently called just The Pigs. I have always associated the name with the nearby village of Baconsthorpe, but with what relevance I do not know. It is on the main road and serves a decent meal. Recently it has opened a number of bedrooms for guests.
We have been progressing through the village from the Holt direction, and the last building we come to is the former Primary School. This is obviously a nineteenth century school building, although it has been a dwelling house for many years. Now the nearest schools are at Holt and Corpusty.
It was attached to Binham Priory (some ten miles away) until the Reformation. It seems to have been a moderately prosperous agricultural area at this time. Before then, in Edward the Confessor’s time, it must already have had a church, because some Anglo-Saxon features remain at the base of the old church tower, the only remaining part of the original church. The Domesday Book does not mention a church in the village however. The name has not changed greatly over the past 1000 years when it was recorded as Edisfeldam. It was a very large settlement in the time of Domesday, containing 36 households.
FOR STORIES OF EAST ANGLIAN LIFE