History of Tacolneston

The origins of Tacolneston go as far back as 600 AD. The name of the village has changed since then from Tacolueston to Tacolnestone and finally to its present name of Tacolneston (pronounced “tacolston”).

Mention of the village was made in the Domesday Book in 1085. As is now, Tacolneston was essentially farmland with a population of about 150 people.

Before the Great Plague the population had grown to over 350 people or 70 to 80 families. By 1352 this number had shrunk to about 35 to 40 families; about half of the population was swept away by the plague.

By 1845 the population had grown to 518. The largest landowner at that time was Sir John Boileau who owned Tacolneston Hall.  In 1866 a school was in existence in a house now known as Woodpeckers on Hall Road with a roll of 46 children. By 1877 Tacolneston National School opened in its present building and by 1883 had 80 pupils.

In December 1894 the first move towards a Parish Council being created by way of a meeting on the 5th December of that year and some 9 days later the first Parish Council meeting took place. In 1959 there were moves made by the Parish Council to provide a Village Hall, but it was not until1974 that another scheme for providing a Village Hall met with greater success. Shortly before this the Parish Council held a meeting in which over 60 parishioners attended (if only this happened today!); The matter under discussion was the installation of Pavement Lighting in the new development areas of the village but the proposal was heavily defeated. Also at this time the “main road” through Tacolneston village known as The Turnpike was officially re-named
Norwich Road.

Tacolneston without doubt is “famous” for its Mast and the original one (not the present one) was erected in1956.  Long before then, another of today’s landmarks, All Saints Church Tacolneston was built.  The first Church to be built in the village was around 1300 and All Saints Church was built around the 16th century.

Another well-known landmark in the village is The Pelican Inn. Records show that in 1845 a shopkeeper sold beer in the village; in 1868 a public house called The Warren Arms opened on the site of the present day Pelican Inn and Stable Door Restaurant.

Today Tacolneston is fortunate to also have 2 shops in the village, which were opened in 2006; these shops replaced the Village Shop and Post office and Fish and Chip Shop, which had closed the previous year.

Tacolneston is without doubt an attractive village with a population in excess of 700 people. While much remains of old Tacolneston, the village has expanded in the last 40 years. Sport and Leisure facilities also play a part of life in Tacolneston. The village boasts a Football and Cricket Club as well as The Woodlands Club (formerly Woodlands British Legion Club.

Project to research the history of Tacolneston undertaken by the
Norfolk Historic Buildings

The project to look at Tacolneston and its environment continues to progress. Much of the documentary work is based on sources at the record office, including the sale of the village in the 1920’s by the Boileau family and the 1845 tithe map. Some owners retain their own deeds, which also offer useful records of ownership. One of the challenges of the documentary work has been the prevalence of the name Browne within the village. During the 19th century the Boileau’s bought many properties from the Brownes including 60 Norwich Rd, White House Farm and the Manor House.

We have now visited over 40 properties in Tacolneston parish, plus approximately ten others in the nearby villages. Most of these date from 16th and 17th centuries although we have seen some later and some earlier houses. Many of the houses have changed over the centuries. At St Mary’s Farmhouse the main room had no ceiling and was open to the roof when first built. Tacolneston Hall began as a 16th century house of three rooms. It then had two Elizabethan wings added before further extensions led to the Georgian appearance we see today. The 19th century school house now called Woodpeckers was originally a 17th century property which had all the external walls replaced with clay lump walls, presumably when it was converted to a school house by John Boileau.

  One of the most interesting finds so far has been the number of timber framed chimneys in the village. When we began the project we already knew of one at 44 Norwich Road, which had retained some of the timbers despite being replaced by a brick chimney in the 17th century.  We have since discovered that they were once quite common in this area, although some of the evidence can be quite fragmentary and uncertain. The Pelican public house and Warren Cottage both had timber chimneys, now altered by later brick additions.  The best example is at Hill Cottage.

For the purposes of dendro-dating there has been difficulties with finding timber that is grown slowly enough to provide enough growth rings for dating purposes. At one property in the project a post had only 15 rings.  For secure dating Ian Tyers, who is taking the wood cores for dating needs a run of around 50 years. He suggested this timber must come from a managed and well-fertilised source of woodland. He has also found a lot of non-oak timbers such as Elm and Ash. As there is no database for these woods it is not possible to use them for dating. Were these other timbers taken from hedgerows? Was there a shortage of oak or perhaps Elm and Ash were considered equally useful. There is some evidence that the better houses contain more oak, this would tend to suggest it was a sparse and more expensive material. In some houses oak is used externally with elm inside, where the hardness and longevity of oak was perhaps not considered so vital.
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