Old Hall over the years has been in many different forms including St Mary’s Abbey (1849-1940) and The Franciscan order of Friars Minor (1945-1973)
During these times both the Nuns and the Friars created the cemetery as you see today, and as not accessible to the general public, gives an air of mystery to this peaceful and truly beautiful spot at the top of Rectory Hill.
In the mid 1800’s Edward Godfrey (ex Lord of the Manor) had owned 625 acres of land at Old Hall and of which the nuns originally bought fifty acres, adding another twelve acres just two years later in 1857. This additional 12 acres all within the triangle bounded by Rectory Hill and Flatford Lane meant they could expand the farm and garden, so with the help of a Mr Purton they introduced their first haycrop and laid out the Cemetery which continued to be cared for by the Friars who succeeded the nuns.
Mr Purton also increased activity on this strip of land and built a new cowshed, stables and outbuildings some which still remain today, he planted trees and had beehives, rabbits, pheasants and pigeons as well as a donkey, pigs, Chickens, sheep and a horse.
In 2003 the unnamed remains of 136 adults and Juveniles from the period 1291-1539 were reinterred in this graveyard. Excavated by Northampshire archaeology from St Faiths Lane, Norwich where the Greyfriars Friary had stood in former times, their presence within the friary precints indicates that all were part of the Franciscan family.
The Greyfriars Precinct, King Street, Norwich. Friars Minor, Franciscans arrived in Norwich in 1226 and were established on the site in 1285. They started building work in 1288. The friary was dissolved in 1539 and the buildings were demolished in 1565.
The remains were found during excavations in 1991/1992/1997/1999
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The land, (not part of the Old Hall Estate), is almost unchanged today and farmed by Kate Stannett with her menagerie of animals including some rare breeds.
Please do get in contact if you have any additional information and can add to this story.