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The Church

Buried records


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A village with a fascinating history

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The Ruin in the Churchyard

Above: Salthouse Church from the South



The mass of ivy in the north-west corner of the churchyard completely conceals a rectangle of crumbled stone walls that once belonged to a little building. The absence of any known documentation relating to this structure renders it all the more mysterious.

In 1936, when the Rev C. L. S. Linnell of the Norfolk Archaeological Society was carrying out an excavation on the ruin,
he had been unable to find any definite documentary evidence that could help to date it.
Even as early as 1735, an account of ‘Salthouse in Holt Hundred’ could do no more than mention the existence of a ruin, and state that ‘it was supposed by many to have been a school formerly.’

It may well have served as a school, but definite evidence of it having been built for a different purpose was provided by Linnell’s excavation. The unmistakeable remains of a piscina in the wall of the south-east corner, and a line of brickwork indicating the base of an altar, were enough to convince him that this had been a consecrated building.


In the above picture we are standing
on the spot marked red in the diagram
below in the doorway, facing the altar




This is the Rev'd Linnell's diagram of the chapel made after he excavated it in 1936



The diagram (above right) shows the position and size of the chapel in relation to the church

In his report, Linnell stated that the place had been used as a rubbish dump for some time. It seemed that it had been deliberately filled up, because the heavier and more chalky soil was on the top while the lighter, surface soil appeared at floor level. He suggested that this may have been done when the Johnson and Purdy vaults were made, to the east and north of the church, and when graves such as the Stanforths’ tombs were made within the church itself. But unfortunately Linnell was still not able to say when the chapel had originally been built. In his report ‘Some Notes on the Ruin in Salthouse Churchyard’ published in Norfolk Archaeology, Vol. XXVII, he said:

‘The absence of anything in the nature of dressed stone or mouldings in connection with the site made it impossible to obtain anything like an accurate date for the building.
‘As regards finds: in the loose soil, directly above the floor level, a large number of stained glass fragments were found. Most of this is of a brown colour, and there are a few pieces that have a fragment of design—the best find among these being a portion of St Dorothy’s basket of loaves. This fragment and one or two other fragments have been dated by the Rev Christopher Woodforde as fifteenth-century work. It seems reasonable to suppose that these may have come from the church, and I suggest that some of it came from the east window when, if it had been smashed outwards (during the iconoclasm of the Reformation), possibly some of the fragments would have been swept up when the vaults were made and carted with the soil to the chapel. Other finds included a number of large pins, a book clasp and some pottery (late mediaeval) out of which it was possible to reconstruct a shallow cooking bowl, heavily charred on the outside.

‘A number of coins were found, among them two very worn silver three-penny pieces, a Double Tournois of Francis I of France, a number of Irish farthings of the Jacobean and Caroline periods, and some merchants’ tokens with names and mottoes, all bearing the mark: Many of the tokens were too worn for the inscriptions to be deciphered, but below are three of the mottoes from tokens issued by Hans Kravwinckel of Nuremburg:



Heaven’s red, tomorrow’s dead.

gotes:reich:blibt:ewick :

God’s Kingdom remaineth always.


Luck comes from God.
go to Salthouse History HOME page - see also ' Three churches on one site? '

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Val Fiddian 2005