HEDENHAM, 3 miles N.N.W. of Bungay, and 11 miles S.S.E. of Norwich, is a parish in Loddon and Clavering union and petty sessional division, Loddon hundred, Beccles county court district, Yarmouth bankruptcy district, Loddon polling district of South Norfolk, East Brooke rural deanery, and Norfolk archdeaconry. It had 281 inhabitants in 1881, living on 1773 acres, and has a rateable value of £2368 10s. 11d., and a gross estimated rental of £2564 6s. 2d.
Mrs. Irby is lady of the manor, but a considerable part of the soil belongs to the trustees of the late P.L. Bedingfeld and C.W. Unthank, Esq. At the Mermaid Inn is a beautiful rosary, highly celebrated for supplying the most valuable varieties. There is an extensive brickyard in this parish, the brick-earth of which furnishes excellent materials for red and white tiles, drain pipes, vases, and other ware.
In 1858, the brickmakers discovered, about a foot below the surface, near the Bungay road, a Roman cinerary urn and the fragments of several others; and about 25 yards distant they found, at the depth of a yard from the surface, a perfect Roman kiln. This was 7½ feet across at the mouth, but at 3 feet below the top contracted suddenly to 5 feet, forming round the interior a flat shelf 13 inches wide, on which the ware was placed for burning. Four feet below this shelf the floor was reached; and on the west side a rudely arched stoke-hole opened from without into the lower part of the kiln, exhibiting traces of fierce fire on its reddened and smoked sides. This furnace-hole was flanked on either side by five rude steps cut in the solid clay, and evidently partly baked.
The interior showed the action of intense firing on the native clay, out of which the kiln was scooped; what seemed at first glance to be rude courses of brick, being only the varying beds of stratified brick-earth, which had taken different shades of colour, red or white, as the thin beds were more or less sandy or clayey. At the top was a flue-like aperture, on the south side, much smoked and charred. A quantity of lumps of hard chalk, which must have been brought from a considerable distance, was found at the bottom, and leads to the inference that the kiln had been used for lime burning after it was abandoned by the potters. This interesting relic of antiquity was soon destroyed after being exposed to the rain and frosts. The date of both kiln and urns may undoubtedly be assigned to a period anterior to the close of the fourth century.
The CHURCH (St. Mary) is a large structure of Early Decorated architecture, and consists of nave, chancel (reroofed in 1866 by the present rector), south porch, and square embattled tower with six bells. The chancel contains sedilia and a piscina, and its floor is laid with encaustic tiles. The reredos bears symbolic carvings of the sacramental elements, and here are many monuments of the ancient family of Bedingfeld. There are four stained-glass windows in the church. In 1863, the church was fitted with new oak benches, the north windows were restored, and a new chancel arch was inserted. The register dates from 1559.
The discharged rectory, valued in the King's Book at £13 6s. 8d., is in the patronage of J.L. Bedingfeld, Esq., and incumbency of the Rev. Robert Manning Marshall, M.A., who has a good residence, about 30 acres of glebe, and a yearly rent-charge of £458, awarded in 1839 in lieu of tithes.
The PAROCHIAL SCHOOL, built in 1874 at a cost of £500, will accommodate 70 children. The dividends of £62 2s. 4d. stock, left by William Crispe, are applied towards the support of the school, which is attended by 60 scholars. The Town lands, 54A. 34P., are let for £60, which is applied to the church and school rate. The parish has a double cottage occupied by poor families.
POST OFFICE at Mr. William Juby's. Letters, viâ Bungay, arrive at 8.30 a.m., and depart at 4.20 p.m.
Bull Lewis brick and tile maker, and farmer; h Bungay Catchpole Alfred foreman Faulke Robert Cooper farmer and surveyor, Hill house Folkard Jacob shopkeeper Juby Wm. shoemaker and postmaster Marshall Rev. Robt. Manning, M.A. rector, the Rectory More William farmer and surveyor Preston Daniel vict. Mermaid Inn, farmer and nurseryman Punchard William farmer, machine owner, guardian, and overseer Raikes Mrs Martha the Hall Read Charles carpenter Read Samuel blacksmith Reeve George market gardener Sampson Stephen sexton Woods John farmer Woodward Tom Kirk schlmr & organist
Copyright © Pat Newby.