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WATCH: This is what remains of the lost village of Godwick

PUBLISHED: 06:30 08 August 2019

The tower from the ruins of All Saints Church still standing at the new visitor trail around the lost village of Godwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The tower from the ruins of All Saints Church still standing at the new visitor trail around the lost village of Godwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

It was once a busy community with a pretty church, reliance on farming and a fine Elizabethan manor house.

Owner James Garner, right, with David Robertson, archaeologist, centre, and Ian Groves, landscape historian, at the new visitor trail around the lost village of Godwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYOwner James Garner, right, with David Robertson, archaeologist, centre, and Ian Groves, landscape historian, at the new visitor trail around the lost village of Godwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Fast forward to 2019 and the lost village of Godwick - south of Fakenham between Tittleshall and Whissonsett - lies completely deserted.

Earthworks, the Great Barn and the ruins of the old Godwick Hall and All Saints Church are the only remaining signs of civilisation.

The Great Barn at the new visitor trail around the lost village of Godwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Great Barn at the new visitor trail around the lost village of Godwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Godwick is certainly not alone in having been abandoned, but very few of Norfolk's several hundred deserted medieval villages have been preserved so well.

And now, following a successful bid for EU funding, a new trail has been launched to help visitors soak up the history of this evocative landmark.

Owner James Garner at the tower from the ruins of All Saints Church at the new visitor trail around the lost village of Godwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYOwner James Garner at the tower from the ruins of All Saints Church at the new visitor trail around the lost village of Godwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

James Garner, owner of the site and the current Godwick Hall, said: "Godwick was once a small village, but it was never a particularly thriving place and it was very difficult to cultivate the land and make a living here.

"In 1597 a new landowner - Sir Edward Coke - built Godwick Great Barn which runs over the end of the village's main street, so that was pretty much the change that ultimately led to its demise.

The eastern side of the Old Hall, photographed before it was destroyed in a 19th century fire. Picture: Johnson family album, Norfolk Museums Service/Norfolk County CouncilThe eastern side of the Old Hall, photographed before it was destroyed in a 19th century fire. Picture: Johnson family album, Norfolk Museums Service/Norfolk County Council

"This visitor's trail is all about explaining to people what the landscape represents. Historically it's very important and what we've tried to do is piece the interesting Godwick story together."

Godwick - an Historic England scheduled monument - was populated until the 1600s, but poor harvests and wet weather in previous centuries had triggered a gradual demise.

The church tower remained almost complete until 1981, when its eastern wall collapsed. Picture: Johnson family album, Norfolk Museums Service/Norfolk County CouncilThe church tower remained almost complete until 1981, when its eastern wall collapsed. Picture: Johnson family album, Norfolk Museums Service/Norfolk County Council

Many villagers stayed put for as long as was feasible, but the last finally moved on when working the heavy soils finally proved too much for them.

However, unlike a great many of the county's forgotten settlements, the landscape was not extensively ploughed for cultivation.

Intrigued visitors and fascinated historians can, as a result, walk comfortably along the meandering streets where villagers once trod.

"This is one of the best-preserved deserted villages that I've come across," added David Robertson, of East Anglia Archaeology. "Not many of those that survive are easy to see, only a few are open to the public and even fewer have information readily available.

"Godwick ticks all the boxes and if you've got an interest in our region's history there is a lot to learn here."

- The Lost Village of Godwick is open to the public from dawn to dusk every day except Wednesday and midday onwards on Saturday.

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