History Walk 4: the footpath from Black Street to  houses on the former Common edge at Cess i.e. from TG455185 to TG439178

The footpath from Black Street at TG455185 to TG439178.  It would have been originally used by people who lived in the properties on the edge of the Common to go to the Church


Physical Character and Historical Ecology


The footpath starts from opposite the ancient entrance to the churchyard.  It goes between the walls of the gardens of adjacent properties.  The width at the start is about six feet but it soon narrows and becomes only about three feet wide and about six feet above the level of the adjoining road; this is because it passes through an area which was redeveloped into a housing estate in the 1990s.  On the north side is the boundary fence of the old Baptist Graveyard.  After that the path follows the pavement fronting the bungalows along Oak Tree Close until at the western end of the estate it goes round some garages to the adjoining field.  There it goes along the north edge of the cropped field with a mixed hedge on the north side.  This mixed hedge is along the boundary edge of the adjoining school field where new species have been planted among older ones.


At TG453183 the path goes steeply down a bank to join Sandy Lane which at this point is about three feet below the level of the adjoining fields and is about six feet wide.  The track (Sandy Lane), which is shown as ‘Private Road’ No. 9 on the Enclosure Map of 1812, continues south west from this point between sloping banks until it reaches buildings where it becomes about 15 feet wide as it reaches Cess Road. 


The path continues by dog-legging left & right across Cess Road from a point almost opposite the end of Sandy Lane, heading westwards past the front wall of a 19th century house across a field to a gap in a hedge.  From there the path goes diagonally north-west across the next field to the boundaries of the gardens of the houses which were, before the Enclosure, on the edge of The Common.  This narrow field path – about three feet wide would have been the route to the Church for the residents of these houses.  Along this path for centuries they would have carried their babies for Baptism and their dead to the churchyard for burial and couples would also have walked along here to be married at the Parish Church. 


This narrow path continues straight along between fences and through the premises of what is now a Strawberry farm and skirts the garden of a house until it reaches a crossing track at TG439178.


There is no indication either on the ground or on old maps that it was a wider track than the footpath seen today, yet this would also have been the route to the Tithe Barn which at one time existed at about TG440178, where Rectory Farm is now situated.  The Tithe Barn would have been where the produce given as tithes would have been stored.  The Rectorial Tithes were from the 12th century due to the Monastery and Priory of Norwich Cathedral, as in 1160 Roger de Gunton gave the advowson of Martham to Norwich Cathedral.  After the dissolution of the monasteries, permission to receive the tithes was granted by lease to various local landowners until the Martham tithes were commuted to a money payment in 1842.  At some time after that the Tithe Barn fell into ruin and was demolished in the 20th century.

1. The start of the path from Black Street with the old mounting stone

2. Approaching the gap into Sandy Lane

3. Looking south west down Sandy Lane at TG452183

4. Further down Sandy Lane

5. Looking back from same point as 4.

6. The end of Sandy Lane where it reaches Cess Road

7. Looking back up Sandy Lane from Cess Road at TG446178

8. The path going west at TG446178, across the field from Cess Road to a gap in the hedge

9. The path continues from the gap in the hedge seen in photo 8 above

10. The path continues from the distant point seen in 9.

11. The approach into the Strawberry Farm

12. The path as it approaches the Strawberry Farm

13. The path goes through the Strawberry Farm

14. The path continues through the Strawberry Farm

15. The path goes round the edge of the garden of a house

16. The path meets the crossing path at TG439178 which goes north to Repps Road

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