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About 2000 years ago.

The area was probably wooded, especially on the clay lands which would have been difficult to cultivate.Ellingham's sandy soils would probably already been cleared as it provided easier ground and it seems likely that early settlements were on the rise of land between Dockeney and the Beck.Kirby Cane had the advantage of more fertile soils and greater security from marauders.
First settlements were probably clearings in the forest near natural water sources


Ellingham and Kirby Cane became part of the great Roman Empire. There is thought to have been a road from Kirby Cane running towards Reedham ferry, but as roads locally were built of compacted gravel, very few have survived the plough. The strongest presence seems to have been in the first and second centuries. There have had local finds of a Roman Dolphin brooch and coins of the era. Evidence of Roman building, but there are indications perhaps of a dwelling on the Geldeston side of Leet Hill.

AD 170-190

There was certainly a settlement of potters on the valley edge near the river in Ellingham who made flagons and bowls, but specialized in making mortaria.
These were mixing bowls which had hard stony material fired into their bases so that food could be ground in them. Three potters have been identified; Regalis, Lunauc (is) and one who used a herringbone stamp.

This can perhaps be considered as Ellingham's first industrial site. It seems we were in contact with the rest of Roman Britain, and thereby, with the Roman world. When the new Christian religion began to replace the Roman gods, it spread to our shores, and, though they were persecuted until the reign of Constantine (312), no doubt there were many Christians in Ellingham by the end of the Roman era.


AD 430-880

About this time the area became the 'ham' (homestead) of Ella's people.We don't know if Kirby Cane had a Saxon name before the Vikings came, or probably a community made up of Ella's extended family with their whether it was part of Ella or some other Saxon's domains.

Wenha was the first king (unrecognised) of East Anglia in 550 and it remained a distinct kingdom for the next three hundred years until King Alfred united England under his rule. By the -7h century, Christianity had been reintroduced under King Sigbert (c 630AD), so we may have had our first church building about then, probably a simple wooden structure , or even just an open air cross around which village meetings were held. It seems more than likely that this was on the same site as our present churches.

The kings of East Anglia were known as the Wuffings, after Wuffa, the first recognised king, who reigned approx 571 - 578 AD
His grandson Redwald is almost certainly the king whose magnificent ship burial was discovered at Sutton Hoo near Ipswich in 1939.

Kirby also probably gained its present name then; Kirkja (or Kyrka) means church Scandinavian origin. Because this region came under Viking rule and obeyed its laws, it was called the Dane law. We gained something of the Danish culture, but missed the revival of learning, which happened under Alfred's reign elsewhere.



From this date there were new raids. The English paid huge Danegeld to the Vikings to prevent attacks. In 1011 it was a massive £48000

King Cnut divided England into four parts-, Northumbria. Mercia, East Anglia and Wessex, all except the latter (which he kept for himself) having an earl over them. Thorkell the Tall (Cnut's viceroy) ruled East Anglia and was still in charge in 1019. There was peace that outlasted his death in 1035.

Kirby Cane. The principal manor here was held by the abbey of St Edmund at Bury to which it was given by Emma, mother of Edward the Confessor, who married Etheldred, King of England by whom she had Edward and afterwards married Canute. She probably gave it in 1020 when Canute was a great benefactor of the abbey.



Kirby Cane
Kercheby / Kerkebey: Earl Hugh; Radfrid from St. Edmund's who held before and after 1066; Ralph Baynard. 2 2/3 churches, 1½ mills. 4 cattle.
Church with a Saxon tower. This was the entry in the 1066 Domesday Book

There seems to have been a settlement in the north of the parish called Erwellestun, next to the parish boundary with Hales to the west of Litchmere Lane. The name suggests a Viking 'tun', as does 'gate' in the names of its three streets, Estgate, Brechegate and Chirchegate.
It existed until around 1311. It does not get a mention in the Domesday Book as a separate entity.

Ralph Baynard was one freeman of the King
There were 2 small holders and a slave. 2 plow of arable, 2 oxen, enough woodland for 2 pigs, 3 acres of meadow.
8 freemen had fold-rights and patronage in 20 acres, 2 ploughs of arable and 1/2 acre of meadow. These later became the Fitz Walter fee, and then passed on to Bartholomew Sanz-aver and Roger de Hales.
The fact that the woodland is expressed in terms of the number of pigs, which could be kept in it.Which, suggests that the woodlands were not being coppiced, since pigs would have destroyed the young shoots in coppice. Kirby Cane had about 30 households, which were worth taxing.

Our part of South Norfolk was one of the most densely populated parts of the country at this time.

A massive earthquake affects the whole country on 11th August 1089

Ellingham and Kirby Cane's peasants would by this time have settled into the feudal hierarchy.  The lord was at the top, paying the king through his own, and his tenants military service in return for his lands.
The Villeins were next. They paid rent (in money or kind) for between about 25 and 100 acres,
The next down was the Bordars or cottagers who had smallholdings of about four acres.             
Lowest of all were the serfs, who were little more than slaves. 
There were still Sokemen, who were often independent craftsmen, such as millers, or smiths. They could sell their property and move if the), wished. But still had some obligations to the lord of the manor


At this period it seems likely that the common and the open fields of Ellingham and Kirby Cane already existed.  The common would have been bounded by deep ditches and thick hedges to prevent animals wandering onto arable land. In places these boundaries are still visible.               
At the end of Mill Road near the playing field there was a gate, the Bud Et? Gate, the field behind the garage was called Bud Piece. There was another gate between Dairy Farm and Dockeney called West glebe Fa" gate leading into the island of arable strips (the open field) amidst the sea of common grazing.

Edward III imposed a tax (called tenths and fifteenths) Ellingham paid £4-14s-0d, one of the higher paying parishes in the hundred. Kirby Cane paid £5-8s-0d during this tax, somewhat more than Ellingham in 1334

Black Death reached Norfolk in 1349 with great mortality during this first outbreak. Local victims are buried in the meadows beside their church.
It may have been responsible for the decline of the settlements though equal in ice-age which caused harvest failure and wide-spread famine. The population crash caused by the Black Death, farm labourers were able to demand higher wages and lower rents. The sea level rose again, causing the flooding of the empty peat pits.

An underlying social unrest broke out in 1381 causing an uprising when a tax of a shilling was levied on every person over the age of 14 years. The insensitive attitude of the collectors caused further resentment and riots broke out in East Anglia, notably at Bury St Edmund

During the 14'h century, moats became a popular status symbol, and it was probably at this time that the medieval hall at Kirby became partially surrounded by a moat. Being mainly for show, rather than defensive, they were often only on two or three sides of the building and often doubled as fish ponds.

All Saints Church

All Saints Church in Kirby Cane is one of 124 existing round-tower churches in Norfolk. It was built in the early 1100s. It is believed it may have been built before the Norman Conquest of 1066.

The Porch was added in the late medieval period. It is a Grade I listed building.


St Mary's Church Ellingham

It is thought St Mary's church was built in middle or late 13th century and is situated close to the river Waveney and Ellingham water mill.  The Porch is believed to be medieval.
The Tower appears to be built in the 13th century. The brick extension on the south side was added in 1800s for a staircase.
There are 5 Bells. The tenor is from 1647, the treble from 1876, and the others are from 1977, 1629 and 1596.