Travel west down the quiet road from Swaffham through gentle farmland and dark sinister forests, through remnants of scarlet poppy fields and twisted pines and on until you reach the quiet village of Beechamwell. There you find a large village green surrounded by cottages, a church and pub also a shady tree with a bench.

Beechamwell is an ancient place. In the Dark Ages an earthwork called Devil’s Dyke was built, which remained the parish boundary until 1879. Prehistoric tools, Roman coins and Saxon jewellery have all been found in the area.

The Domesday Book, however, mentions not one, but two villages, “Wella and Bitcham”. The remains of Wella have been found near the ruins of All Saints’ Church on the outskirts of the present village. The ghost of Diana and her dogs is said to haunt All Saints’ Church and certainly owls hoot eerily on moonlit nights.

Two further redundant churches point to a larger population in the past. St. John’s remains just as a tower standing in the middle of farmland, and at Shingham, woods and meadows surround St. Botolph’s with its beautiful Norman doorways and pretty green copper roof.

In those days Beechamwell must have been a meeting place, as the stumps of two medieval crosses show where regular markets took place, at the crossroads and on the village green.

Photos supplied by David Mason

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