This post is a small up date from last nights posting of St Mary’s Church in Appleton, Norfolk. I have found some information on the deserted village that the church was part of. There could be several reasons why the village was deserted and it is interesting just to explore a few reasons.
Appleton is situated between West Newton and Flitcham, there is nothing left now of this deserted village, except some outlines which show up when it snows.
In 1707 the mansion house of the lords of the manor, the Pastons, was burnt to the ground with the family in their beds, I think they escaped. The mansion was never rebuilt and the church became a deserted ruin. So the village had been deserted before 1707 because even if the mansion had perished the villagers would have still worshipped in the church.
In 1845 there was only the ruined church, two farm houses, two cottages and 700 acres of land, which belong to the Hon. Charles Spencer Cowper.
To go back further, the tower of the church might possibly be Saxon and therefore the village could be Saxon, it is possible that the village might just have become too small and the villagers moved to a larger village.
The Black Death in 1349 could have wiped out the inhabitants or even years of climate changes and crop failure could have caused the villagers to seek an alternative life elsewhere.
Now we know that there was a fine mansion house, the lord of the manor could have cleared the village to make a nice view from his dining room window. This clearing of the land for stately homes happened in the 18th century, so the desertion of the village could have taken place when the Pastons built the hall……..I think I need to do some more investigation.
There are over 195 deserted villages in Norfolk and it looks like quite a few of their churches remain…oh dear another category.