The Village of Billingford
Nestled in the beautiful and peaceful countryside of mid-Norfolk is the village of Billingford and civil parish in the Breckland district of Norfolk, England, on the River Wensum. The full name translates from Old English as 'the ford of Billa's people'. Ideally situated between the market towns of Dereham and Fakenham, on the B1145, which is a route which runs from King's Lynn to Mundesley, and just 16 miles from the Cathedral city of Norwich, the North Norfolk coast is just a 35-40 minute journey by car. Within a short driving distance there is an abundance of pubs, restaurants and tea rooms, serving local produce and beers.
Steeped in history, a Roman settlement is known to have existed here on the banks of the River Wensum. Many artefacts have been discovered in and around the site from pottery and metalwork to a cemetery, field systems and a number of buildings. On 15th August 1947 during a dredging operation in the River Wensum close to Billingford, a Roman cavalry helmet from c225 AD was discovered in the nearby village of Worthing. The helmet depicts an eagle head as its crest and was probably made in the Danube Valley. It is regarded as the finest example of a Roman helmet found in the U.K. and can be seen in the Norwich Castle Museum. The Roman camp itself was located on the hillside south east of Riverside Farm in Worthing with a wooden bridge over the River Wensum that led to Billingford. The helmet was found buried in the river sediment amongst the remains of the wooden posts of the bridge. On the other side of the river and within the village of Billingford are the Roman burial ground and the Fen Causeway, an important Roman road, which passes through the south of the Parish.
The Church of St. Peter's stands on a hill to the north of the village. The earliest part of the Church is the baptismal font, which is 13th century. The present building itself is largely 14th century and built of flint. It has an unusual octagonal west tower, one of only a half dozen or so thought to exist in Norfolk. The church is a Grade 1 Listed Building.
Beck Hall, Bec Hall or Bek Hall is a Grade 11 Listed 18th Century Farmhouse. It was build on the site of a former medieval "hospice/hostel" adjacent to the Chapel of St. Paul. The hospice was founded by William of Bec (or Beck): records go back before 1224 (in the reign of King Henry 111). The hospice was dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury. An early resident of Bec was Alanus Elfwold (1248). The hospice (moated) was on the main road between Norwich and Walsingham and was intended for the lodging for a single night of 13 poor travellers as they made their pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. The hospice eventually became a residence and may have been leased by The Church authorities before the Dissolution of the Monasteries. In the second half of the 15th century at least 3 generations of the Curson (or Curzon) family, descendants of the Kedleston family, held Beck Hall in Norfolk. With the dissolution in the mid 16th century the property was granted to Sir John Perrot. There have been many eminent owners of Beck Hall over the years including the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Edward Coke, "1552 - 1634" who purchased the property in 1606 from Sir John Perrot and subsequently inherited by Sir Edward's descendants, the Earls of Leicester. Sir Thomas Coke "1697 - 1759" set about rebuilding the Hall to the building that is seen today, and his initials T C are formed by tie-ends to both gable ends of the property. It is this Sir Thomas Coke that built Holkham Hall, one of the finest country estates to be found in the U.K. In middle age, Sir Henry Beddingfield "1613 - 1684" preferred to live at Beck Hall rather than in his estate at Oxburgh Hall, which is now owned by the National Trust. Over the centuries Beck Hall and its land remained in the forefront of agriculture and was leased to tenant farmers. In recent years it became a privately owned working farm, but the fields were, over the course of time, sold to other local farmers who still work the fields to this day and Beck Hall was sold on once again. Although it is no longer a working farm house, Beck Hall remains privately owned. It was made a Grade 11 Listed Building in 1951.
Billingford itself was once part of the Holkham Estate who lands were far reaching then the 25,000 acres that remain part of the estate today. East End Farm, Manor Farm and other properties in the village were known to still be owned by the Holkham Estate until the 1960s and 1970s. These properties are now in private ownership. In the 19th century 55 acres of land to the north west of the village was made available to the people of Billingford in what is known as a "poor relief charity" set up by the Holkham estate alongside other land owners under Acts which sought to make some public compensation for land enclosures which were widespread during those times. The concept of a poor relief charity was to ensure that the poorest rural residents had a source of food and other essential amenities to help them through the toughest of times and hardest of winters. Today in the 21st century, the poor relief charity continues to play a very important role for many towns and villages across the country. Billingford is proud to continue its tradition in helping its most vulnerable residents by means of providing with a winter fuel donation.
Attached here is an interesting document regarding the Billingford Scheduled Ancient Monument
Our village boasts a village hall, which is available for hire, and a playing field. The playing field was originally known as a "the Pasture". This land and East End Farm were put on the market by the Holkham Estate in the mid 19702s.
The Chairman of the village hall committee, at the time, Mr Sidney Lake, known locally as Sid, saw this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase a piece of land in the centre of the village for the use as a playing field, which will benefit the village greatly. Mr Lake's proposal was subsequently supported by other members, in particular Mr & Mrs Richard Bradley and Gladys Dobbs. who were all instrumental in ensuring that the playing field was to be made available to all residents, when setting up the playing field charity, and agreement. Holkham Estate was paid £1,700 for the purchase of the land, which at the time represented very good value and good fortunate for the village. This has proven to be a great asset to the residents of Billingford and is conveniently adjacent to the village hall itself.
Billingford is also the birth place of the celebrated cricketer Peter Howard Parfitt. He played for Middlesex between 1956 and 1972, and was the Club's Captain from 1968 - 1970. He represented England in 37 test matches between 1962 and 1972, scoring 7 centuries. At the end of his career, he had scored 26,924 runs in 498 first-class matches, an average of 54 runs per match. Peter Howard Parfitt also played for Norwich City Reserves, but his greatest success was from playing cricket.
If you see the Billingford village sign, you will see the Roman helmet, cricket bat, stumps and ball and the Church Building amongst other symbols painted on it, revealing the village's rich heritage.
According to the 2001 census it had a population of 223 in 91 households, increasing to a population of 253 in 106 households at the 2011 Census.
Billingford Parish Council
The Parish Council now has four members and there are three vacancies. Councillors represent the village on various matters. So anyone interested in joining the Parish Council contact the Clerk. A Parish Council is the third tier of local government, after Norfolk County Council and Breckland District Council.
The parish council meets bi-monthly, on a day suitable to the majority of the Parish Councillors, in the Village Hall, with the meeting starting at 7.00 p.m. The Public is very welcome to attend the meetings. At the meetings a variety of topics are discussed, including Planning Applications. Anyone interested in attending the meetings should check the notice board and website, which will display the Public Notice showing the venue, time and agenda. The Parish Council now has a part share in a SAM2 speeding sign, which is sited in the village occasionally. There is also an active Community Speedwatch group. The Parish Council maintains a notice board, 3 dog bins and has recently renewed the play equipment. It also maintains 2 street lights and informs the Highways Department of issues that need their attention.
Important documents are display on this website and on the Notice Board.
Billingford Parish Councillors
Currently there are 2 vacancies on the Parish Council. Anyone interested in joining, please contact the Clerk. There is some information on the Home Page regarding necessary documents for anyone interested in applying.
The current Parish Councillors are:-
I have lived in Billingford all my life and have been married to Carolyn since 1982. We still live in the same house, Dunlyn, with our 2 adult sons. We also have a married daughter and 2 grandsons. since leaving Hammonds Grammar School, in Swaffham, in 1973 I worked until very recently as an accountant in various industries. I am now retired. In my younger days I have played football and cricket in the village and I still help out our table tennis team making up the numbers when required. I have also run Junior Football sides in the village when my sons were of that age. During the summer months my whole family is heavily involved with Dereham Cricket Club. I am very passionate about our village and I am trying to push forward this website, church yard grass cutting, upgrading of the playing field equipment, litter picking, making more us of the village hall and promotion of other village activities and facilities.
Tel. No. 01362 668853
or 07789 178441
Mobile Tel. No. 07769 657511
Mobile Tel. No. 07908 102509
Mr Gordon Bambridge
Tel. No. 01603 880557
Mr Bill Borrett
Tel. No. 01362 860200