Blo' Norton

Coordinates: 52°22′30″N 0°57′28″E / 52.375018°N 0.957870°E / 52.375018; 0.957870
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Blo' Norton
St Andrew's parish church
Blo' Norton is located in Norfolk
Blo' Norton
Blo' Norton
Location within Norfolk
Area4.62 km2 (1.78 sq mi)
Population270 (2001 Census)
• Density58/km2 (150/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTM0179
Civil parish
  • Blo' Norton
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townDiss
Postcode districtIP22
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
WebsiteBlo' Norton Parish Council
List of places
52°22′30″N 0°57′28″E / 52.375018°N 0.957870°E / 52.375018; 0.957870

Blo' Norton is a village and civil parish in the Breckland district of Norfolk, England, on the River Little Ouse, about 6+12 miles (10 km) west of Diss. The 2001 Census recorded the parish population as 270 people, living in about 100 households.[1]

Early history[edit]

Blo' Norton's unusual placename is reputedly derived from ‘Blae’, itself derived from Old English and Old Norse words meaning both ‘cold’ and ‘blue’. The ‘blue’ could refer to the woad plant that grows in wetter areas and is a source of traditional blue dye. ‘Norton’ is a settlement on the north side of the river. The first record of 'Blo' added to the name is in 1291, which in Middle English may have meant 'bleak and cold or exposed' or it may have derived from ‘blae’ meaning blue, perhaps from the growth of the woad plants from which a blue dye can be obtained.[2]

Bill Bryson mentioned the placename in his book Notes From A Small Island. The name was also briefly featured in an episode of the Channel 4 television show So Graham Norton.

There is evidence of people living in the area from Anglo-Saxon times, and perhaps from the Romano-British period. Aerial photographs show outlines of buildings and tracks that may be from the Romano-British period, near to Blo' Norton Hall.

Parish church[edit]

The Church of England parish church of St Andrew was built in the 13th century, remodelled in the 14th century and restored in 1879. It is a Grade II* listed building.[3]

The west tower has a ring of six bells. Thomas Osborn, who had bell-foundries at Downham Market in Norfolk and St Neots in Cambridgeshire, cast five of the bells including the tenor in 1794. John Warner & Sons of Cripplegate, London cast the treble bell in 1892.[4]

Blo' Norton Hall[edit]

Blo' Norton Hall

Blo' Norton Hall is a timber-framed, moated Tudor manor house at the end of an avenue of lime trees west of St Andrew's church. It was enlarged in Elizabethan style in 1585. It is a Grade II* listed building.[5]

In the summer of 1906 Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) stayed at Blo' Norton Hall. The visit inspired her short story, "The Journal of Miss Joan Martyn".[6][7]

Blo' Norton and Thelnetham Fen[edit]

South of the village and along the river is the Blo' Norton and Thelnetham Fen Site of Special Scientific Interest, an important calcareous fen wetland site supporting rare plant species including black bog rush Schoenus nigricans and saw sedge Cladium mariscus.[8] The Little Ouse Headwaters Project manages part of this area as well as surrounding wetland areas such as Hinderclay Fen and Suffolk Wildlife Trust also has a reserve on part of the site.[9][10]

Prince Frederick Duleep Singh[edit]

Prince "Freddy" Frederick Duleep Singh (1868–1926) lived at Blo' Norton Hall for the last 20 years of his life and is buried in St Andrew's parish churchyard. For this reason Blo' Norton is part of the Anglo-Sikh Heritage trail.

Frogstock festival[edit]

The village used to host the Frogstock festival, which was established in 1995 as a local music festival in answer to the perceived over-commercialisation of festivals such as Glastonbury. Frogstock was last held in 2011.[11]

War memorial[edit]

Blo' Norton's War Memorial is located at the junction between Church Lane and The Street, and the takes the form of a stone cross with an octagonal base. It was unveiled on 7 November 1920 and was funded by donations from local charities and the people of Blo' Norton.[12] It holds the following names for the First World War:

And, the following for the Second World War:

  • Corporal William A. Ruddock (d.1944), 7th Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment
  • Leading-Aircraftman William H. Valentine (1905–1942), No. 2771 (Air Defense) Squadron, RAF Regiment
  • Gunner T. Kenneth Cook (d.1943), 179th (Anti-Aircraft) Regiment, Royal Artillery

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes". Norfolk County Council. Archived from the original on 11 February 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  2. ^ "Blo Norton" (PDF). Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  3. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Andrew (Grade II*) (1077440)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  4. ^ Dawson, George (8 April 2011). "Blo' Norton S Andrew". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  5. ^ Historic England. "Blo' Norton Hall (Grade II*) (1077439)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  6. ^ Squier, Susan M; DeSalvo, Louise A (Autumn–Winter 1979). "Virginia Woolf's The Journal of Mistress Joan Martyn". Twentieth Century Literature. 25 (3/4, Virginia Woolf Issue): 237–269. doi:10.2307/441323. JSTOR 441323.
  7. ^ "Blo' Norton". Literary Norfolk. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Site Name: Blo' Norton and Thelnetham Fen" (PDF). Natural England. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 May 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  9. ^ "Our sites". Little Ouse Headwaters Project. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  10. ^ "Thelnetham Fen". Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Frogstock Festival". Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  12. ^ Imperial War Memorial. (2022). Retrieved November 6, 2022.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]